The Cruisers Sport Series 208 Bow Rider was designed to provide owners who only need a small boat with the fit-and-finish of a premium boat of a much larger size. She's built to the same exacting standards as other Cruisers Sport Series models that extend all the way to 32' (9.75 m). That is simply company policy.
This design feature is quite unusual in boats of any size or cost because of the increased difficulty and expense in molding. But for this builder it is worth the expense because of the sleek and racy look that it gives the boat in a remarkably subtle way. ●
Standard Colored Hull.
Going hand-in-hand with the hull striations is a color gel coat which helps reflect light to make the striation effect work. ●
Quilted 3-Tone Upholstery.
Most boats have 2-tone vinyl upholstery and some even three, but rarely in this size boat and virtually none have the classy diamond upholstery accent patterns found in the CSS 208. ●
Extended, Extra-Large Swim Platform.
The 208 has what is probably the largest swim platform of any 20-footer on the market. It is made up of both an integral-to-the-hull platform, plus a bolted-on extension that is standard. ●
The CSS 208 has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, plush bucket seats, and a raised back sun cushion that makes into a chaise, among other things.
With the Volvo Penta V-8 270 turning an SX drive with a 21'' pitch propeller we reached a top speed of 51.7 mph at 4545 rpm. At that speed were burning 17.9 gph giving us a range of 91 miles. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 30.8 mph. That's the reduced the fuel burn to only 7.2 gph and the 208 could keep that up for 4 hours and 24 min. and 135 miles while still maintaining a 10% reserve of fuel.
The 208 exhibits similar handling characteristics to most other sportboats in class in that she has very quick handling. Because of her relative lightweight (3,100 lbs./1,406 kgs.) she tends to launch over waves rather than slicing through them, again this is something to be expected in class. She has a 14-degree bow rise upon acceleration with the horizon remaining in plain sight. She comes up on plane in just over 3 seconds and advancing the trim to the one quarter position on the gauge will have her in her optimum cruising attitude. She leans 12-degrees into the turns and stays solid on the turn rather than exhibiting any chine walk or tendency to slide off the turn. She has excellent midrange acceleration and bleeds off very little speed in the turns. When taking power off she settles back into the water stern first.She has an 18-degree deadrise at the transom which is a good compromise for this size boat which will be used mostly on inland lakes and rivers. We tested her on Sturgeon Bay, which is an arm of Lake Michigan, on a normal day and found her to be comfortable in the mild chop.
Sportboats that are 20' (6 m) and smaller are often considered to be "entry level" by their builders and therefore are built to as low a price-point as possible to maximize sales. Cruisers takes a different approach with the 208. It assumes that its customer wants the same fine quality of fit-and-finish in a 20' as would be wanted in a larger boat.
Cruisers realizes that just because someone wants a 20' boat does not mean they also want to skimp on amenities and fit-and-finish. For that reason, it uses the same materials in the 208 as are used in its larger boats. Likewise, the same work force that builds the 32' CSS flagship, also builds the 208. In that way standards of quality, fit-and-finish and attention to detail are the same in Cruisers' smallest boat as in its largest and most expensive one. Cruisers' policy is self evident when getting aboard the boat. This is not a low price-point and she does not look like one either.
Classy diamond patterns are usually not found in 20' (6 m) sportboats, but Cruisers gives the 208 the same attention to detail seen in its larger vessels. Note the molded-in striations on the side of the console which mirrors the design theme on the hull sides.
The bow features the usual under the seat storage but also has padded bolsters all around in order to enhance the versatility of this space. An optional two-piece filler cushion ($350) will turn the entire bow into a sun pad. UV resistant marine-grade vinyls are used in the upholstery and quilted lumbar accents the upscale look of the 208. Stainless steel grab rails are provided forward. Speakers are mounted into the bulwarks. The storage space in the dual consoles is accessed by lifting up the forward-facing seat backs.
There is no dedicated anchor locker in the bow, something that most builders in this size range have traded off for more and better seating in the forward cockpit. One of the under-seat lockers can be used for ground tackle.
The cockpit features the classic sportboat layout of two seats forward and aft bench seat across the stern. What is not so usual are the two well-designed, highly-padded bucket seats with bolster (that stays up without being held), and cut-out back for ventilation. The bucket seats swivel around creating a comfortable conversational atmosphere when facing aft. There is accommodation for in-deck storage located between the seats. The wraparound windshield extends well back into the cockpit adding to the safety of the cockpit depth.
Sun pad and Swim Platform
The sun pad on the 208 flips up on the starboard side to reveal a walkthrough aisle from the swim platform to the cockpit. This section can be supported with a flip backrest to turn the sun pad into a chaise lounger facing to port. This is an unusual feature in a boat this small.
The swim platform is huge and is one of the most unusual features of the CSS 208. Cruisers recognizes that a sportboat is for, well…sport. And to that end has created a very large swim platform that becomes a staging area for swimming, skiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing. It can also be used as another place for laying out in the sun (just add a beach towel), or just be a great place to hang out with legs dangling in the water while the 208 is at anchor or beached.
The platform incorporates an integral section to the hull and a bolted-on extension as standard. We like this design because the platform extends well beyond the lower units when they are in the down position. With this design, swimmers will not touch the lower unit when they slide off the stern to get into the water.
Because the platform extends so far aft and is so low, the 208's designers have thoughtfully canted in the platform on each side. Since the pivot point of the boat is far forward, when the boat leaves the gas dock the platform will not hit it. Also, when putting the boat into a high-speed turn the swim platform will not drag in the water on the inboard side.
The Engine Room
The sun pad abaft the cockpit bench seat lifts easily with the help of two, gas-assist struts. The standard engine is a 4.3 L 220-hp sterndrive from Mercury Marine or a 225-hp 4.3 L engine from Volvo Penta. Optional power is a 260-hp 5.0 L MerCruiser or a 270-hp 5.0 L engine from Volvo Penta.
The MSRP price of the Cruisers Sport Series 208 Bow Rider powered by a MerCruiser 4.3 L 220-hp sterndrive is $50,630. The MSRP for the 270-hp 5.0 L Volvo Penta sterndrive system is $53,950.
There are not many premium boats in this size range but the CSS 208 Bow Rider is certainly on a par with the few that are there. Obviously the strong suit of the Cruisers Sport Series 208 Bow Rider is design and styling, primarily, and secondarily, is her remarkable watersports playground on her stern.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Cruisers Sport Series 208 Bow Rider (2014-) is 51.7 mph (83.2 kph), burning 17.90 gallons per hour (gph) or 67.75 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Cruisers Sport Series 208 Bow Rider (2014-) is 30.8 mph (49.6 kph), and the boat gets 4.28 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.82 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 135 miles (217.26 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 270-hp Volvo Penta V8 270 SX.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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