For 2018, Robalo has updated the R222 ES to the R222EX Explorer.
The Robalo R222EX Explorer is a center console fishing boat first, and she has all of the necessities including an aerated livewell, 5-gallon-bucket storage, fishbox with overboard drain and plenty of rod holders. But add a few options and she's also a large and comfortable family day boat suitable for towsports, harbor hopping or a picnic on a remote beach. Top speed with a Yamaha 200 four-stroke was 43.4 mph in our test runs, and best cruise was at 3500 rpms and 21.4 mph, where she got 4.1 mpg.
|Length Overall||21' 6'' / 6.55 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||2.8 sec.|
|0 to 30||7.7 sec.|
|Props||15M -14 1/2 Reliance|
|Load||2 persons, 1/4 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||79 deg., 68 humid.; no wind; seas: calm|
1x 200-hp Yamaha 4-stroke
Mercury Four Stroke 150XL 25" Mechanical 150HP
Mercury Verado 200XL 25" Digital 200HP
Mercury Verado 250XL 25" Digital 250HP
5 Yamaha Engine Options from 150-250-hp
Robalo is very clear about their mission for the R222EX Explorer —“Family, Fishing, Value.” More specifically, they’re looking to combine the practical features of a fishing vessel with the comfort and luxury demanded of a family excursion boat. A boat versatile enough to feel at home catering to the fishing or family utility, and back to the other when the situation demands it. Let’s take a look at how she stacks up.
- • Adjustable Bow Table/ Casting Deck. A microcosm of what the R222EX Explorer is trying to accomplish, the bow section can be outfitted with an adjustable cocktail table in the footwell of the seating. Lower it down to be flush with the seating, and the area is now a perfect bow casting platform for fishing. Family, fishing, value.
- • Yamaha Command Link Gauges. Yamaha’s digital gauges provide real-time, accurate readouts on information like engine function, fuel consumption, trim levels, and battery voltage. Intuitive design and created to weather the elements.
- • Center Console Day Head. A long day on the water with the family basically requires bathroom facilities for all on board, and the R222EX Explorer takes that concern away ably with a simple, effective head accessed from the forward side of the center console.
- • Aft Livewell. The aft bench seating section lifts to give access not just to 5 gallons of bucket storage and service for the engine—there is also a 16 gallon livewell that is a huge plus when fishing.
- • Hydro Lift Extended Running Surface. The R222EX Explorer’s hull design utilizes an extended running surface, which allows the “v-plane” to continue aft of the transom. This creates superior stability under nearly every driving condition. The quick plane time it provides helps with fuel consumption, and the tight aft hull corners gives the boat precise cornering abilities.
- • Mercury Four Stroke 150XL 25" Mechanical 150HP
- • Mercury Verado 200XL 25" Digital 200HP
- • Mercury Verado 250XL 25" Digital 250HP
- • Yamaha Four Stroke F150XB 150HP 25" Mechanical
- • Yamaha Four Stroke F200XB 200HP 25" Mechanical
- • Yamaha Four Stroke F200XCA 200HP 25" Digital
- • Yamaha Four Stroke F250XCA 25" 4.2L V6 250HP Digital
- •Blue LED underwater lights
- •Garmin VHF Radio
- •Steering Wheel Control Knob upgrade
- •Trim Tabs with indicators
- •Bow cocktail table with dedicated storage
- •Bow filler cushion
- •Freshwater Shower
- •Stainless Steel Ski Tow
- •Trailer - Aluminum Tandem Axle with Aluminum Wheels
- •Trailer - Aluminum Tandem Axle with Galvanized Wheels
- •Bimini Top with boot
- •Canvas T-Top
- •Fiberglass T-Top
- •T-Top Electronics Box
Many bow sections contain some level of versatility in their design, and the R222EX Explorer is no different. What is different is that very often the tools of this versatility—removable cushions, tables, and so on—are only available as add-on options. Not so with the R222EX Explorer. The bow has a “U” shaped seating section, and the removable seating cushions and removable backrests are both standard.
There is further versatility that falls under “add-on option” as well, however. The cocktail table that can mount in the footwell of the “U” shape is optional and highly recommended, as it can lower to be flush with the seating, which creates a great forward casting platform when fishing. An optional filler cushion can be installed along with all the seating cushions to make this into a lounging sunpad as well.
Storage in the bow comes via port and starboard lockers under the latched seating as well as a below deck storage space and forward a large anchor locker. The bow is lined with plush bolsters and guiderails along the gunwales as well. Stereo speakers and cup holders further refine the space and its capabilities.
Just aft of the bow seating section is the center console, with its forward-facing jumpseat. The seat has plush cushioning, making it a bit more comfortable than other more perfunctory console seats. The front and sides of its base have heavy-duty grabrails as the jumpseat is part of the outward-swinging access door to the R222EX Explorer’s head.
The jumpseat is also a perfect distance away to participate when the bow cocktail table is installed, expanding the entertaining space nicely in design.
The RR222EX Explorer’s head is not expansive, nor is it a fully walk-in space. Instead, the door opens to reveal a step-down for access and use, with just the head itself inside. The head is electric and comes with an 8 gallon holding tank with your option to include overboard discharge or not.
Moving aft we noted the bolster cushions in the gunwales continue the length of the boat, which is a great feature when leaning over and wrestling with a catch. On the aft side of the center console is, of course, the ship’s helm.
The dash is simply and concisely laid-out, with a compass at the top of the console, space for touchscreen readouts just below, stainless steel and weatherproof toggle switches flanking these, the Yamaha Command Link gauges, stereo system control just to port of the steering wheel, digital throttle just to starboard. The steering wheel is stainless steel and can be optionally upgraded with a control knob as well. Just below the dash is lockable glovebox storage.
The captain’s chair is more of a leaning post, with double-wide bench seating and two flip-up bolsters. The upholstery is soft but weather-resistant. On the aft side of the leaning post are five rocket-launcher style rod holders above a 72 qt cooler that sits in a cooler slide—dedicated storage to keep it from rattling around while the boat is underway and a slide for pulling it out from under the helm seat and easily accessing.
The cockpit on the RR222EX Explorer is self-bailing with integrated drain fittings. The decks are “diamond lustre” non-skid and there are stainless steel toe rails in the gunwales. To port and starboard, mounted in the gunwales as well, are stainless steel rod holders, two to each side. The stainless steel grabrails on the gunwales extend back from the bow to about parallel with the helm station.
The transom seating is upholstered, like the rest of the boat, in premium vinyl with “nano-block technology.” The seat extends from the port side across to the start of the starboard stern access door. It lifts to reveal the boat’s 16 gallon livewell, a 5 gallon bucket storage spot, and more general storage space as well. The transom seating backrest hinges up for access to the bilge area. The starboard side of the transom, as mentioned, has a small stern access door that sits in place in a groove and opens with a small lift and push.
As an outboard-powered boat the R222EX Explorer’s swim platform is not a large space, but does give enough room to use as comfortable platform for playing in the water. The platform has a three-step telescoping boarding ladder that sits flush under a latch. Raw water washdown access is right on the starboard bulkhead, with two stainless steel grab-rails for lifting one’s self up and back onboard.
The R222EX Explorer can also be optionally outfitted with a stainless steel tow line for further watersport enhancement.
The R222EX Explorer comes with the following options in power:
The Robalo R222EX Explorer has a LOA of 21’6” (6.55 m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m), and a draft of 34” (86.40 cm). With an empty weight of 3,700 lbs. (1,678 kg), a quarter-tank of fuel and two people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 4,255 lbs. (1,930 kg).
With the single 200-hp Yamaha 4-stroke turning a 15M 14½ Reliance prop, we reached a top speed of 43.4 mph at 6100 rpm. Her best economic cruise was reached at 3500 rpm and 21.4 mph. It was at that speed that her 5.3 gph fuel burn translated into 4.1 mpg and a range of 330 statute miles, all while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boat’s total fuel capacity.
As for her handling, she has Robalo’s Hydrolift hull, which consists of the rounded keel, two running strakes and a rounded entry to the slightly reversed chine. This had us coming up on plane in 2.8 seconds, accelerating to 20 mph in 4.9 seconds and continuing through 30 mph in 7.7 seconds.
She comes up on plane with a 10-degree bowrise and quickly settled into her 5-degree bow-high cruise attitude. Yet again, we had flat calm conditions across the state when we tested so we can’t comment on how well she handles rough conditions, but we did notice that no matter how hard we tried to induce pounding as we crossed our camera boat’s wakes, she was having none of it. In turn tests she tracked well with just a slight grab to the turn. Hard maneuvering had her ventilating the prop a bit but normal operations showed no adverse effects at all, not even chine walk.
Options to Consider
Robalo lists prices on the base R222EX Explorer boat starting at $42,695.
Robalo lists a 10 year limited hull warranty as standard on the model’s webpage.
Robalo’s mission to appeal to both the fishing and family outing is certainly evident—one can absolutely do both with this boat and be very satisfied. With some option-selection savvy, the R222 shouldn’t short you in pursuit of either type of excursion. That being said, the R222 is definitively more a fishing boat than a family excursion one. The R222 has the somewhat spartan feel that many fishing vessels offer, and the tighter layout means it won’t be ideal for parties of much more than 4 or 5. There is certainly value to be had in looking into the R222, but instead of viewing it as a boat 50/50 split between fishing and family, best to see it closer to 65/35 in favor of fishing expeditions.