Ahhh! Finally a chance to go to some cooler weather and get through a day of testing and camera work with a single change of clothes during the day. Florida is not called the Sunshine State for nothing. Great dream, but Florida’s weather decided to follow us to Lake Geneva’s beautiful shoreline and Bret Chilcott’s lineup for us. Like they say, the humidity is what makes it so bad in the south. Yeah.
Cobalt boats are built in Neodesha [Nee-oh-de-shay], Kansas named by the Osage for the meeting of the waters. Apparently the small town atmosphere and neighborly feeling is good for boat building. In fact, they don’t build them they craft them. This privately held company puts its product and its customers in highest regard. I have heard that from many, but felt it from few. My calls to Bret were all met quickly and with professionalism. We went into the shoot feeling we had a lot to do and very little time to get it done. Bret, Director Marketing and Export Sales, made it much easier to get the job done. He explained they put the customer first and went more than the extra mile to get the job done. His crew proved that with the support and hospitality we received. It is hard to explain, but I could clearly feel that this was not a show for cameras, but was how they treated everyone.
My first boat to test was the 220 Bowrider. She is reinforced with Kevlar, has a sharper entry angle, reversed chines and lifting strakes and pushes her bow down with the extra extended running surface which act as though they are trim tabs fixed in position. LEDs light her interior at night for less power consumption, more visibility for safety and longer lasting bulbs. They have even thought about how intake vents get eaten up by the UV and now make theirs from a long lasting metal mesh.
Their optional electric anchor light is really slick. Besides not having to worry about storing it away when not in use and trying to find it when you need it, a flick of the switch has it sending out an S.O.S. to get help for the other guys you find in trouble on the lake (you likely will not have to use it for yourself!). This boat also has a neat keyless gas cap. It pops up like the hide-a-way cabinet knobs on many cruisers today. Through hulls are long lasting stainless. All hardware that carries through the hull is backed with aluminum backing plates.
Up front the anchor locker has a rubber liner that is now molded and fitted to save the fiberglass in the anchor well. The rub rails are stainless steel but have a vinyl bumper under them to spread the stress of bumping the slip. This keeps the rail useful and looking good for a long time. The bow area is well cushioned and the filler cushion fits neatly onto the support bars that have slots molded into the benches for solid support. Bow cushions are hinged which means you will not have to worry about them flying away in the wind. The wrap around windshield is really super. They have a patent pending latch to keep it open when you want, and have super strong stainless support bars that support the weight of most anyone who tries to use the windshield as a gymnastic device with the windshield open. A folding walk through door completes the seal from the cold air late in the year.
The companion and helm seat have a flip up bolster. The companion seat storage area also hides the optional satellite radio antenna. The helm is outfitted well also. The steering wheel is Italian Leather wrapped. They use only circuit breaker protected switches and the switches are sealed from the weather.
Between the seats is a large floor locker for diving and swim gear. No plywood is used in the floor, only vinyl-honeycombed nidacore that is 1-inch thick. The seating is non-expanded vinyl and the color penetrates the entire thickness. It carries a two-year warrantee and looks very much like leather.
The engine lifts either manually or with electric motors. All areas where you would have fiberglass-to-fiberglass contact are padded with rubber bumpers to keep the area quiet. They even use a bumper to baffle the area between the engine and cockpit areas.
You can add an insert to increase the size of the rear sunpad. If you like to ski, add on the optional patent pending ski pylon and/or wake board tower. The swim platform covers the outdrive which increases safety, but you still should not board a boat with the engines running.
We tested three engine combinations for the 220, so be sure and check out the other two so you can determine the one you like best. She is 22’0” long with a trailerable 8’6” beam. The MerCruiser 496 Mag HO with Bravo III outdrive was a sweet ride, and she cruised at 2500 rpm, which turned us out at 27.5 mph. At this speed she burns 7.6gph from her 50-gallon tank, which equates to a fine day of boating up to 163 miles. As I said earlier, she was quiet with only 82 dBa at this speed. Opening her up to top end was tricky on a tightly controlled lake, but we did manage to see 59.8 mph at 4850 rpms. She is ready and able to run with the big dogs on the ski circuit. Her hole shot was only 3 seconds and time to 30 mph was just 7.2 seconds.
If you want a speedy boat for family fun that is backed by a company with an excellent customer service ethic, then the Cobalt 220 Bow Rider should be on the short list.
By Capt. Bob Smith
Cobalt 220 Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Cobalt 220 is 50.1 mph (80.6 kph), burning 18.65 gallons per hour (gph) or 70.59 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Cobalt 220 is 26.9 mph (43.3 kph), and the boat gets 4.33 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.84 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 195 miles (313.82 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 270-hp Volvo Penta 5.0 GXI.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.