Chaparral 257 SSX Review
Best of the Best
As soon as you feast your eyes on the beautiful Chaparral 257 SSX, it will quickly become apparent that you are looking at one of the most premier 25’ bowriders in the entire industry. Chaparral released the 257 SSX a few years ago, and it set the industry standard for both exterior styling and interior features. Let’s dive right in and take a closer look at this awesome bowrider from Chaparral.
The first thing that jumps out at us when viewing the 257 SSX from the exterior is the sculpted hull sides and aggressive lines that seem to be the perfect blend of sport and class. Many of the boats in this size offered by the competition tend to have very simple lines, which make the boat much easier and cheaper to build for the manufacturer. Chaparral recognized that buyers for a premium boat of this size want to stand out from the crowd, and that’s exactly what the 257 SSX does. Chaparral offers several gelcoat patterns as well. The original option was the wide-band colored hull sides with a painted power-line graphic. In 2016, Chaparral added the Eclipse Gelcoat option. This gives the boat full color sides & bottom, along with a painted boot stripe in the color of your choice.
The Chaparral 257 SSX has a large, extended swim platform which is molded into the hull and deck. Many manufacturers use a bolt-on platform. This is also cheaper to build and can be added to old designs they want to give a face lift. Chaparral built the 257 SSX from the ground up with this integrated platform. We love the clean look of this design, not to mention the strength and great finish that comes along with it. Other features we like at the transom include the trim tab option with indicator lights on the dash, along with the transom stereo controls & fresh water shower.
Chaparral is the owner of the most award-winning hull design in the industry, so it’s no surprise that they incorporated this design into the 257. It’s called the Extended V-Plane Hull, and it has many benefits. This design takes the point where the outdrive mounts to the transom, and extends the hull further back on each side. This design makes for a very flat takeoff with very little bow rise. It helps keep the boat on plane at lower speeds along with increased fuel efficiency. The Extended V-Plane hull also basically gives the 257 a longer running surface, therefore providing a smoother ride.
The Chaparral 257 SSX has one of the most innovative seating layouts we have ever seen in a boat of this size. Several of the seats move and adjust to allow you to configure the boat exactly as you like depending on how many people are in the boat and what your intended use is at the time
The aft seating area in the 257 features back-to-back seating which is a very popular feature in boats currently. The rear facing seats give you a place to sit on the swim platform when anchored or strapping on a wakeboard. These dual seats are electronically controlled and with the push of a button fold flat and recline into a rear-facing lounge setup. This is very popular design in pontoon boats, but the seats are typically fixed into the lounge position with can be a negative for some people. The ability to keep the seats upright or fold them into loungers gives the boater the best of both worlds, all in one boat.
The innovative designs of the 257 SSX continue as we step into the cockpit seating area. The port side bench is a 3-position seat. It can be locked in a side position behind the port captain’s chair which gives the passenger on the rear bench plenty of legroom. It can then be slid backwards connecting to the rear bench which creates an L-Shaped seating layout. You can also rotate the seat 90 degrees which creates a unique layout which is great to face the rear bench and mount the table between the two seats. This creates a booth-style setup. We love the way this boat meets the needs of so many diverse types of boaters with its multiple layouts.
The driver’s helm is one of the best-looking designs we have seen on any boat of this size. It is a full fiberglass helm with a woven vinyl wrap on top of the dash. We recommend you go with the optional Garmin Color GPS in the center of the dash along with the dual analog gauges on the sides. The Garmin is an easy to use touch-screen GPS that comes pre-loaded with all the inland lakes (or coastal areas depending which model you choose.) It will give you tons of valuable information such as channel markers, hazard areas, gas docks & attractions. The Garmin will also give you a depth & speed reading at all times.
On the side of the driver’s helm is a fold-out bow walk-thru door. This door, when opened, will block off the bow of the boat and help keep the cockpit area much warmer on those cool mornings or evenings. Behind this door is a secondary storage door which turns the entire helm into a dry-storage area for larger items.
The passenger helm on the Chaparral 257 SSX matches the styling of the driver’s helm. It is also a door which opens to the enclosed head/changing room. We find on many boats with an enclosed head that the door tends to be a bit of an eyesore. Many boat manufacturers use a very plain, fiberglass door that doesn’t flow very well with the styling on the rest of the boat. Chaparral did a great job of disguising this door and making it match the drivers helm. The door includes the same vinyl-wrapped top as the drivers helm and includes a lockable glove box.
Enclosed Head/Changing Room
Although many boats in this size range do include an enclosed head, they tend to be very small and difficult to enter. Chaparral wanted to make this head as functional as possible. They created a head door which opens the front, top and side for easy entry. As we step down into the room, it is very deep and big enough for an adult to use with ease. The 257 SSX comes standard with a porta-pottie. If you plan on using the head, we recommend upgrading the the Vacuflush or Electric Head options. This will give you a holding tank as well, similar to what you find in an RV. If you plan to use the changing room more for storage, then you can just remove the standard porta-pottie which will create another great dry storage area.
The Chaparral 257 SSX has a traditional wraparound seating area in the bow, but it’s above average in design as well. The first, and probably most important design feature, is the depth of the seating area. Some boats of this size tend to be shallow in the bow, which is not ideal for passengers especially when boating in rough conditions. The bow on the 257 sits high out of the water and gives you a profound sense of security. Chaparral has installed 2 larger, stainless steel handrails and full wraparound backrests for comfort as well.
Under the front-center seat is a built-in cooler with a drain. This seat is removable and features a non-skid lid underneath for the cooler. This works great for a step down from the front boarding platform. You don’t have to step on the vinyl when entering and exiting the boat from the front. On the top deck is a large, nonskid platform with a lid. Under this lid you will find an anchor locker and fold-out boarding ladder. The navigation light on the bow folds away to remove any potential tripping hazards.
The Chaparral 257 SSX is available with several different engine options, ranging from 300hp-380hp. Although more power is always better in our eyes, we find the 350hp option from Mercury to be the best bang for the buck on this boat considering the power-to-weight ratio. All of these engine options from Mercury will come standard with the Bravo 3 drive. This drive gives you a great holeshot no matter which motor you choose. Top speed relative to engine choice will range from the upper 40’s to the mid 50’s. The 257 SSX is a very deep boat with a sharp deadrise, so it handles rough water with ease. It performs like a smaller boat though, as it is very agile in turns and at takeoff. The 257 SSX is a pleasure to drive. It excels at everything from taking a relaxing cruise to towing a wakeboard or tube.
As you can probably tell, the Chaparral 257 SSX is a boat that we fell in love with from day 1. It has so many features that put it head and shoulders above the competition. If you are in the market for a premium bowrider in this size range, we highly recommend the 257 SSX. Once you take a closer look, we think you will find that nothing else on the market compares. For more info on this great boat, check out Chaparral’s website.