The mission of the 350 SLX is to be the ultimate day-boating premium bowrider. To that end she can comfortably seat about 20 adults (if we count the aft facing rumble seats that should only be used when not underway) in three venues, two with tables. At once she becomes a spectator boat, a platform for picnics, cocktail parties, BBQ dinners, and, if desired, a watersports platform. She has an optional overnight sleeping cabin for one person, or possibly a couple who would like to snuggle up. Her most important mission is day-boat entertaining. She can utilize larger power plants than the standard twin 300s, up to twin MerCruiser 380-hp 8.2 MAG engines. With Sea Ray’s proprietary Quiet Ride technology, noise levels should be kept to a minimum. In any case she is large and luxurious.
The Sea Ray 350 SLX has a LOA of 34’6” (10.5 m), a beam of 10'6" (3.20 m) and a draft of 37” (94 cm). With an empty weight of 13,000 lbs. ( 5,897 kg), 40 gallons (151 L) of fuel and 2 people onboard we had an estimated test weight of 13,660 lbs. (6,196 kg).
With the twin 300-hp 350 MAG engines turning BIII outdrives with 24" pitch propsets, we reached a top speed of 47.2 mph at 5250 rpm. At that speed we were burning 50.2 gph for a range of 135 miles. Best cruise was reached at 3000 rpm and 21.1 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 14.7 gph, which the 350 SLX could keep up for 9 hours and 48 minutes and 207 miles while still retaining a 10% reserve.
Time to Plane.
We had a quick time to plane of 2.9 seconds, reached 20 mph in 4.4 seconds, and 30 mph in 6.2 seconds. Given the size and weight of the boat, this time to plane number is remarkably quick and it means that the 350 SLX can easily be a popular tow vehicle for skiers and wakeboarders.
With such a heavy boat for its size and her 21-degree deadrise at the transom, the 350 has a naturally solid ride. Crossing wakes and the light chop on test day revealed a steady boat with no tendency to throw water back into the riding areas. She responds well to the helm, leaning roughly 11.5-degrees into the turns.
Our test boat was fitted with the Mercury
for easy maneuvering around the dock. This is consistently such a good system that I can see why it’s become so popular, especially with those hesitant to move up to a larger boat. It gives precise digital instructions to the drive units and the 350 SLX responds well to the gentle inputs of the stick allowing docking into the tightest spaces with no cause for concern or worry.
A New System.
Our test boat was also fitted with the
Dynamic Running Surface
(optional for $3,423). This is a system of tabs that are flush against the stern of the hull. The system works, if desired, automatically to correct for variances in trim both laterally and longitudinally as well as minimizing bowrise on acceleration. It can also be operated manually to make personal corrections, such as dialing in a wake for wakeboarders, or just re-trimming the boat for optimum performance.
on this system are vast given my short time using it. With that said, I liken it to the joystick system where the human interface is minimized for the sake of easing boat handling. Now with the joystick, I can see why this would be preferred. Not everyone can dock a boat and even those that can need help when conditions call for it.
With trim it’s not so difficult. Rocker switches on trim tabs are self evident and clearly labeled “bow up” and “bow down” leaving no room for ambiguity. Most also have LED indicators to show the positions of the tabs. With this done automatically, there is certainly less effort put to the operations of the boat, but it’s not really much effort to begin with.
Testing the DRS.
When coming up on plane, I naturally brought the drive trim up to put the 350 SLX into her optimum running angle. But then the DRS automatically put the trim right back down again, leveling the boat. I reached down and moved the trim on the system manually and it stayed there just fine. That seems counter-productive to me.
Now using the system to balance the load is another story, especially on a boat with the capacity that the 350 has. Most of the seating is clearly over to the port hand side and that creates an imbalance that the system will easily correct. But again, I could do it myself with trim tabs. So is the automatic DRS system for me, an experienced test captain? Not really. But for a newly-minted boater that who wrote a check for a 35’ bowrider? Perhaps. Certainly anyone writing a check for this boat isn’t going to balk at another $5k for this system.
Major Standard Features
All new model for 2014--
Sea Ray has clearly shifted gears to provide more premium-level aspects to its boats. No place is this improvement more evident than in the 350 SLX seating design, construction, styling and upholstery. After all -- everyone uses the seats no matter what else they might do on the boat, and Sea Ray has decided to make them look and be up-scale.
On boats -- just as in cars, planes, trains and most any other conveyance -- people like to sit facing forward. It is in our DNA. In a boat designed for 18 people to sit while underway, a full 11 can sit facing forward. We can't think of any other boat -- under 125' (38 m) -- where this is possible.
This feat has been cleverly done by admitting that cushions in a 90-degree corner have little value, recognizing that the most important thing to sitting is to securely cushion the buttocks rather than the whole human thigh, and finally to also provide forward-facing chaises instead of aft-facing ones (except on the sun pad over the engine box).
Color, Style and Design.
Banished from the vinyl upholstery pallet is what we call "gel coat white". In its place we find a deep, rich dark Cognac vinyl contrasted by a light tan and accented with black. This color scheme is carried on throughout the boat from the bow to the aft-facing stern seating. Thigh, upper back and side supports are proud and firm, much like what one finds in BMW seats where firmness takes precedence over squishy-soft seating. Baseball stitching is used on all double seams. The Sea Ray logo is heavily stitched in black. All armrests and bolsters are in dark tan.
Multiple Gathering Areas.
One of the deciding factors when designing any large boat is the incorporation of gathering areas, and the more the better. The 350 SLX has three distributed about the boat that will accommodate up to 18 people, all while still providing plenty of room to move about. Let’s take a look at them individually--
The bow has an obvious “wow” factor with a mix of earth tones highlighting its features. Wraparound bolsters match the coloring of the headrests and armrests. The three-tone upholstery and optional teak decking creates a classy and upscale look that is deserving of the queen of the fleet. Two different tables are offered, a fiberglass version (standard), an upgrade to teak; and one or two tables are available, or a hydraulically actuated table that converts the area into a sun pad. searay_350slx_roomybow_2014.jpg Four people sitting forward with plenty of room for more in this roomy bow layout. And no one is clamoring for space. The closeable walkthrough windshield and air dam will keep the (younger) kids safely locked to the other side behind the “do not disturb” sign that we might attach.
The 350 SLX features a huge, L-shaped seat that wraps around the aft port cockpit and opposes a dual seat directly across. Dual observer seats to port pivot around to further increase the cockpit seating making a truly party-worthy arrangement. One of the more unique features of the cockpit is the optional electrically-actuated table that rises from its stowed position, flush with the deck. How many times have we all gone searching for a place to stow the cockpit table? Here’s a clever solution. Our test boat was fitted with an optional teak cockpit sole, but a snap-in Berber carpet comes standard.
Moving aft we come to another place to relax, and it can handle a crowd. The aft sun pad lifts to reveal a triple-wide aft facing seat that makes an ideal place to relax while on the hook. It also serves as a natural place to be when the kids are in the water so a watchful eye can always be present. The materials are first rate with the same soft-touch marine-grade vinyls and plenty of lighting to take the good times into the sunsets and beyond.
Submergible Swim Platform and Step
At the stern of our test boat was an option that we think is pretty cool, and so do all of the 350 SLX customers so far. A switch to the side of the transom walkthrough activates the hydraulic swim step creating a cool place to relax as well as a much more friendly way of entering and exiting the water. This swim step is a clever addition and much thought went into its design.
To prevent the 350 from powering off while the step is in the lowered position, there is an engine kill switch that is deactivated only when the step is in the full up position. Magnetic switches handle this task.
While she’s not necessarily classified as an overnighter, there’s little doubt that Sea Ray kept that option in mind when designing the 350 SLX by providing an optional berth upgrade accessed from what would be the helm storage access to the side of the helm console. The console door is opened, and a latch just abaft releases a deck hatch that automatically rises to expose steps into the compartment/berth. With this option, she can accommodate a very friendly cruising couple overnight. Go ahead and enclose the cockpit in isinglass and another berth area can be created in a pinch for the kids to “camp out”.
As well equipped as the 350 SLX is, a few options will easily put this boat over the top and make her into one of the hottest boats on the lake or harbor. When we carefully consider options we ask ourselves if the item will enhance the perceived value or looks for the boat, or will it add to the vessel's utility in an amount commensurate with its costs. Here is a list of things we would add to make the 350 SLX the cat's meow--
Two-tone Hull Gel Colors Available
($2,154). As far as we're concerned this is a "must" and it costs less than 1% of the price of the boat, yet doubles its perceived value on the water, in our opinion.
Teak on Swim Platform and Walkthrough
($1,769). Teak on the swim platform greatly enhances the classy look of this boat. A teak cockpit deck is also available ($4,154) but we do not feel as strongly about this as it is not so visible from the outside. For those lucky souls where price is no object, have at it and see below.
Grill for Wet Bar
($2,462). This small expenditure greatly increases the utility of the boat. Now the owner can have a cookout during the day with hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids. At night on a sundown cruise, heat-up pre-made hors d' oeuvres on the grill.
VacuFlush Toilet for Head Compartment
($1,000). Now, everyone from little Mary to grandpa will feel comfortable spending a long day on the water.
Cockpit Table with Teak Overlay
($1,154). Pardon us, but we simply feel that a fiberglass table looks tacky on a quarter-of-a-million dollar boat. On the other hand, we don't see the necessity for the hydraulically rising table that comes up from the cockpit sole ($10,769), nor do we think the slightly added utility is worth nearly 11k. (See below for a different view.)
Bow Side Table with Teak Overlay
($1,485). People love to sit in the bow and have drinks or lunch and a table makes that activity so much more civilized. For people planning on a lot of day boat entertaining, we would order two tables, one for the port side and one for starboard.
($1,000). We think all boats this size should have a VHF radio. At first this might seem a bit pricy, but it includes a 3.5' (1.06 m) stainless steel antenna, stainless steel ratchet mount, and installation. It also puts the dealer on the hook for making sure it works, rather than having to deal with a third party vendor.
($1,308). Every open boat should have one to cut down on UV degradation and to keep the birds out, if nothing else.
Anchor, Stainless Steel
($923). Every boat needs an anchor and while they don't have to be stainless steel, nothing sets off the bow of a boat like the SLX more than a polished stainless steel anchor.
Total BoatTEST.com Recommended Options:
$13,255. That certainly isn't much for options that will greatly enhance the look and use of the 350 SLX.
The base price of the 350 SLX with twin 300-hp with Bravo III drives and digital throttle and shift controls is $274,786. This price might help explain why the 350 SLX's sales have been so good.Add the options that we feel are necessary to maximize the look and use of the basic investment and we come to $251,855, plus freight and dealer prep.
Going Whole Hog on Options
For those who can easily afford it, it is fun adding "wow-factor" options as they make the boat more exciting and more awesome to landlubber friends with whom it is fun to dazzle and impress. Further, some of the options we lift off our list can significantly "add utility" for certain people or greatly enhance the boat's utility for certain applications -- such as cruising canvas to make the boat more comfortable in the shoulder seasons and when it rains. Follow is a list of those options, some of which will be a "must" for some people--
Added Utility Options--
Axius Joystick Control
($23,462). Boaters concerned about docking, or who want less experienced members of the family to participate more in the piloting experience, this can be a good investment, and it certainly adds utility.
Twin 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 L engines with Bravo III
($18,451). 160 more horses will likely get the 350 SLX through the 50-mph barrier, for those who are concerned about such things. They will also get the boat up on plane faster when she is heavily loaded.
Shore Power 30 Amp Service
($1,846). For those planning on doing a lot entertaining at the dock, particularly those with the cruising canvas package, this makes real sense. 50' (15.24 m) of cord is included along with a battery charger/converter and galvanic isolator.
SmartCraft VesselView Display
($1,531). This is Mercury's vessel and engine diagnostic system and display.
5" Remote-Controlled Spotlight
($846). This light can come in handy at night traveling, coming into the yacht club mooring field looking for a float, or docking.
($3,321). Gramps will appreciate this option if he is nominated for anchor duty.
Extended Cockpit Sunshade
($7,692). Depending upon the use of the boat this can almost be a required item. For those with fair skin who want to spend serious time on the boat, or for those who are planning on having lots of guests aboard, particularly older ones, this sun shade is worth every penny. Also, when the day is hot there is nothing like being in the shade and enjoying a light breeze.
3540 Bow Shade System
($762). Ditto from above, guests will love it and few boats have it yet -- but its coming.
Canvas Package for Hardtop
($2,000). The standard hardtop because the skeleton upon which to hang cruising canvas and isinglass, thus extending the useful season for this boat. It also has the added advantage of protecting guests if a summer squall should spring up un announced. It can even be used at the dock when having cocktails aboard and a breeze comes up or there is a slight chill in the air.
Chartplotter -- e95 Raymarine
($1,477). Not all 350 SLX boat owners will need this but for those who do, Sea ray makes it easy to have one.
Added "Wow Factor" Options--
Hydraulic, Teak Overlay Cockpit Table
($11,231). In the down position there appears to be no table in the cockpit, only a triangular-shaped teak section on the cockpit sole. Then, at the touch of a button the triangular section rises and becomes a cockpit table. It is very cool and ranks high in wow appeal. Some people say they don't want to be walking where they are eating, but Sea Ray has thought of that and provides a canvas cover for the table top when it is down.
Teak Cockpit Sole
($4,154). For the above table to work it must be imbedded in a teak sole.
Automated, Submersible Swim platform and Step
($5,385). This is a fun device that takes a page from multi-million yachts. Children and…well, pretty much everyone else will enjoy it, particularly on a hot summer day.
Helm Berth Upgrade
($2,077). A door opens in the helm console revealing a small bunk adequate for one person and with a small filler cushion, perhaps two quite literally in a pinch. This space should in no way be equated to a cabin. Without the upgrade it is a large stowage space.
Ensign Pole Base
($269). No boat should leave dock without one.
($1,000). These lights are guaranteed to draw a crowd on the dock and under the dock as well.
Enhanced LED Exterior and Interior Lighting
($1,838). This was something started years ago on megayachts and has now drifted down the food chain. There is no denying that lights on a boat, if properly handled, look cool and romantic at night.
We’ve been consistently impressed with the SLX lineup, and now with this latest addition, we can say that we think this boat is "exciting." We say that because not only is there a general quality upgrade in the new 350 SLX, but even more important, this is an all-new boat with lots of original thinking that provides lots of very practical functionality.
In our view from both a styling, materials functionality and pricing standpoints she provides stiff competition for similar-sized European-style day boats that are far more expensive. For those who want a day boat this size and for whom money is no object, we say load her up with all of the options and turn the folks at the yacht club or marina green with envy. She certainly polishes up the image of Sea Ray.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sea Ray SLX 350 (2014-) is 47.2 mph (76 kph), burning 50.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 190.01 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Sea Ray SLX 350 (2014-) is 27.8 mph (44.7 kph), and the boat gets 1.4 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.6 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 205 miles (329.92 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Standard Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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