Sea Ray 540 Sundancer
(w/ 2 x 640-hp Caterpillar 3196 diesel inboards)

Already a member?
Login with your email address

Not yet a member?
To get full access to videos, test results and FREE Newsletter join now.
Join

Text Size: AAA
Sea Ray 540 Sundancer
Sea Ray 540 Sundancer
Sea Ray’s 540 Sundancer is a stylish express cruiser that delivers a smooth ride with the same speed and power package as the 500 Sundancer. The 540’s performance is due to her level ride, big chines and balanced center of gravity. Overall, she’s light to the touch, nimble in the turns, and a good-looking cruiser with no hard exterior lines.

Key Features

    A centerline transom locker stores all the docking gear and a second locker has a hot/cold shower. With the push of a button, the curvy aft lounge extends forward and flattens out to make a sunpad. In fact, all the hatches on the boat have either, gas, hydraulic or electric-assist struts on them. A wetbar to port has all the amenities, including a U-line icemaker, cold-water sink, cooler, and trash bin. Up at the helm, standard equipment includes a four-station intercom with cellular-phone interface, plus a Raytheon VHF, Nav 398 GPS/Loran and Tridata digital instrument. Down below the 540 has a two cabin, two head layout. An in-line galley in the salon comes complete with full-size refrigerator/freezer and most every appliance you could want, including a washer/dryer. Contact: Sea Ray Boats, Inc. 2600 Sea Ray Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37914, Phone: (866) 244-0862, www.searay.com.

Specifications

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Specifications
Length Overall 57' 8 Dry Weight 39,000 lbs
Beam 15' 11 Tested Weight N/A
Draft 3' 11 Fuel Cap 6' 7''
Deadrise/Transom N/A Water Cap 150 gal
Max Headroom 6' 7'' Bridge Clearance N/A
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.

Engine Options

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Engine options
Std. Power 2x535-hp Detroit Diesel 6V 92TA diesel Inboards
Tested Power 2 x 640-hp Caterpillar 3196 diesel inboards
Opt. Power Various Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar up to 776-hp each

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Line Drawing

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Photo Gallery

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Sea Ray 540 Run.jpg Sea Ray 540 Sundancer SeaRay540-helm.jpg
Experience a fast and luxurious ride.

The 540 is an impressive cruiser with live-aboard accommodations. She’s an elegant boat that is bound to make a statement wherever she goes.

Feel like the captain of a starship.

The helm offers full instrumentation with many gauges, bezels and electronics equipment. From here the captain has a good line of sight in all directions and everything on the helm is within easy reac

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Sea Ray 540 galley.jpg Sea Ray 540 Sundancer SeaRay540-salon.jpg
Look at all this counter space!

The galley on the 540 has a full-size refrigerator, three-burner cooktop, microwave/convection oven, large sink and tons of counter space. Take a look at all these cabinets and drawers.

This sofa is capable of seating seven!

The salon has a long wraparound sofa that covers the entire starboard of the boat. It’s elegant yet at the same time very useful. With the removable salon table in place it also acts as a dinette are

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Sea Ray 540 interior.jpg Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Searay540s-line.jpg
Retreat to a luxurious stateroom.

The master stateroom has many quality features and offers an island pedestal bed. When it’s time to retreat for the night you also have your own private entertainment center complete with TV/VCR and

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Captain's Report

By BoatTEST.com staff





Every year, Sea Ray hosts an exclusive gathering at its Merritt Island, Florida plant. Known as the Yacht Rendezvous, this two-day event is a kind of get-together for select Sea Ray owners and potential buyers, but it's much more than a social occasion. In fact, it's Sea Ray's way of personally introducing its best customers to its biggest yachts, which currently range from 43 to 63 feet. Guests are invited to board, inspect, and run the yachts, and since the Rendezvous is held right at the plant, Sea Ray's team of engineers and designers are on hand to make sure that no customer question goes unanswered. With all these resources available, I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Sea Ray's newest yacht--the 540 Sundancer--came to be.

Prior to boarding the 540, I discussed the design concept with project manager Arnie Dingman. "The new 540 is a step between our 500 DA and 580 Super Sunsport," said Dingman, "but in designing her, we were not going to play that game of modifying hulls and decks. We did a lot of work on this new hull to get a soft ride, and we wanted the 54 to have the same speed and fuel consumption as the 50, but with the same engine package." Given the fact that the 540 is nearly five feet longer and 4,500 pounds heavier than the 500, Dingman and lead designer Charles Brown had their work cut out for them.

"Everything about the boat was a team effort," said Brown, "and what we were trying to achieve was a strong, muscular look. You want softness in a design today. Just look at automobiles--there's a much more fluid look to them. The smoother they look, the more attractive they are." And so, a quick glimpse at the 540's exterior shows the design team's vision. There are almost no straight lines on the boat. The transom is slightly rounded, the radar arch curves gracefully forward, and even the raised foredeck blends gradually with the wide sidedecks that surround it. And to maintain a smooth exterior profile, there is no bow pulpit jutting into space--just a neat anchor roller that's integral with the hull.

You board the 540 in one of two ways depending on the docking situation. If she's alongside a fixed pier, a handy little step pops out from the hull, and it's two molded steps down into the cockpit from there. For floating docks, just step right onto the integral swim platform and walk through the portside transom door. Out test boat featured the optional TNT hydraulic lift platform, which is a great for stowing and launching personal watercraft.

All of your docking gear stows neatly in a centerline transom locker, and a second locker has a hot/cold shower, TV/phone connections, water hookups, and even more stowage for smaller watersports items like masks and fins. All hatches here--and in fact, throughout the boat--have gas-assist rams for easy handling, and two Glendinning Cablemasters eliminate the need to snake-wrestle the 75-foot long, 50-amp shorepower cords.

Gas, hydraulic, and even electric-assist items are found throughout the yacht, and a great example is the convertible cockpit lounge seat. With the push of a button, the curvy aft lounge extends forward and flattens out to make a massive sunpad for two. A second curved lounge faces aft, creating a huge conversation area in the cockpit. This lounge is also a good place to relax in the shade, since it's protected by the bimini or optional hardtop.

As you'd expect from a luxury cruiser like this, you don't have to go far for refreshments. A curved wetbar to port has all the amenities, including a U-line icemaker, cold-water sink, cooler, trash bin, and optional Norcold refrigerator. Yet even with all its curves, the cockpit is arranged so you can walk in a straight line from transom to companionway door, and this is a welcome arrangement when you're hauling a week's worth of groceries aboard.

The cockpit is also the access point for the 540's engine room. You reach it through an in-sole hatch, and it's one of the more unique engine rooms I've ever seen on an express cruiser. Unlike most boats, the 540's E/R has no closed bulkheads or separate compartments below. Instead, it's one big, open area, stretching from the 640-hp Caterpillar 3196 main engines (which are two feet apart!) all the way back to the rudder posts. Even with a big 12.5-kW Westerbeke genset on the centerline, the space is exceptionally clean, well-organized, and easy to move around in (it's even carpeted). The only improvement here might be labels for the various lines and manifolds, but I appreciated the easy access to filters, dipsticks, and strainers. The standard oil-change system and fresh-water washdown hose are welcome bonuses here.

Back up top, you'll find the ultimate in decadence with an optional air-conditioning system that cools the helm and cockpit. The helm itself consists of a two-person benchseat next to a single Captain's chair to starboard, and the layout makes you feel like you're skippering the Starship Enterprise. The dash wraps around from the 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock positions, and though it's complete with plenty of room for flush-mounted electronics, some of the rocker switches are slightly behind the helmsman, which is a slight inconvenience but not a safety issue. Standard equipment here includes a four-station intercom with cellular-phone interface, plus a Raytheon VHF, Nav 398 GPS/Loran, and Tridata digital instrument. Complete, factory-installed navigation packages from Raytheon or B&G are available as options, and given the 540's 450-mile cruising range, my guess is not too many will leave the plant without them.

Across from the helm to port is the companionway door, and in all honesty, as you look below you'll know in an instant whether the 540 is right for you. With a long walkway that leads from salon steps, past the galley to port and then past the curved lounge to starboard, the 540's salon is a single, wide open space. And according to media services manager Mike Hungerford, "The 50 is much more compartmentalized, while the 54 is very open. What turns somebody off on the 50 will be a big benefit to them on the 54."

Like the 50, the 540 has a two cabin, two-head layout. But unlike the 50--which has the master stateroom in the forepeak--the 540's master is amidships and lower than the salon, with an entrance just to starboard of the companionway steps. This central location provides a smoother ride while underway, it's lower in the boat so it's more stable, and Hungerford adds, "You don't hear that wave slap at night."

This stateroom--like the rest of the boat--features exquisite cabinetry with either a cherry- or bird's eye-maple veneer. Most impressive are the curved drawer fronts which maximize drawer space in the cabin, and Hungerford says, "This is like the hand-crafted furniture you'd see in your house!" (Truth be told, it's a lot better than what's in my house.) Regardless, accommodations here include an angled queen-sized berth with stowage below, and a private, ensuite head with separate shower stall--all of it first-class.

Meanwhile, the curved, in-line galley in the salon has a full-size GE refrigerator/freezer, along with nearly every electrical appliance you can think of including built-in blender and coffeemaker. Forward and to starboard is one of the longest sofas I've ever seen on a boat, capable of seating seven. Though it's not particularly well-laid out for group dining, it does convert (electrically, of course) to an extra-wide double berth.

And wrapping up the picture below decks, the forward stateroom--with its pentagon-shaped island berth--offers complete privacy for another couple or the kids. Though it doesn't have direct access to the second head with separate shower (it's located just abaft the forward cabin and is accessed from the salon), it does feature a Splendide 2000 washer/dryer combo, so you don't have to schlep laundry or live with wet towels during extended cruises aboard.

When you start adding up heavy-duty gear like house-sized appliances, four-zones of air conditioning, and a 12.5-kW genset, you usually end up with drab performance in the end. But luxury aside, performance is probably the most surprising part of the 540's story. "It's a quick planing hull," says Brown, "and a lot has to do with the level ride, big chines, lifting strakes, and balanced center of gravity."

With a pair of 640-hp Cats, the 540 turned in an eye-popping top speed of 37.5 mph, and that not only beat Sea Ray's own expectations for the boat, but the performance range of the 500 DA as well. And believe it or not, she still hit 36 mph with 25 people aboard! She is amazingly light to the touch, and nimble as well. When you crank the wheel over at speed, she shoulders-down into a turn with a 20-degree bank angle, and she's quick enough to run through a slalom course of lobster pots like a boat half her size. There is no big wake either (a testament to a well-designed running surface and good balance), and though there is a slight delay when you apply full power, the turbos kick in around 1300 rpm and she's up on plane and running in just 7.5 seconds without tabs. I also appreciated the Cat's computer-controlled engine system, which lets you maneuver smoothly around the docks in low idle with no bumps, grinds, or grumbles.

So if you're searching for a beautifully styled express cruiser in the 50-something range, Sea Ray's new 540 just might fit your bill. She's got the room to move, the power to move, and curves in all the right places.



Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Test Result Highlights

  • Top speed for the Sea Ray 540 Sundancer is 37.5 mph (60.4 kph), burning 61.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 232.78 liters per hour (lph).

  • Best cruise for the Sea Ray 540 Sundancer is 26.9 mph (43.3 kph), and the boat gets 0.84 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.36 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 453 miles (729.03 kilometers).

  • Tested power is 2 x 640-hp Caterpillar 3196 diesel inboards.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels
go to our Test Results section.


Standard and Optional Equipment

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Standard and Optional Equipment

Standard = Standard Optional = Optional

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Warranty

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Warranty Information
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.

Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Price

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer Price
Pricing Range $834,794.00
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.


Members must log in to view the test results section.