THE CHAPARRAL 256 SSi
>THE CHAPARRAL 256 SSi
PUTS A PREMIUM ON COMFORT
AS THEY COME
Test boat provided by Sun Country Marine, Phoenix.
THE CHAPARRAL 256 SSi PUTS A PREMIUM ON COMFORT
By John Gerra
e’re not exactly sure what a kit or a caboodle is, but we’ll
go with the antiquated parlance of yesteryear and confirm that Chaparral has thrown both into its 256 SSi.
The 26-foot, 5-inch boat is the poster child for the bowrider that
The 256 SSi’s monochromatic interior is easy on the eyes, and
you can rest assured that the boat’s tasteful upholstery and
graphics won’t look dated in just a few years. The boat has a timeless look to it that is sure to increase its resale value.
One of the growing trends in top-of-the-line bowriders is a telescopic ladder that is built into the bow, allowing swimmers in a
hurry to board the boat from the front. The 256 SSi’s ladder stows
neatly out of the way and gives you complete walk-through
access from bow to stern, so you’ll never have to put a soakingwet foot on the boat’s plush upholstery.
A rounded V-shaped settee takes up most of the bow, and a set
of cupholders is built into each side of the settee, so passengers
reclining at the bow can enjoy a libation while the boat is under
way. An optional pedestal table serves the settee, making it a great
place to sit around and play a game of cards on a lazy summer
The 256 SSi’s walk-through windshield is nicely sloped, aiding
both visibility and the overall look of the craft. The piece is solidly
built, like the rest of the boat.
Chaparral has ingeniously managed to have its cake and eat it,
ACCESS IS KEY — The center section of the aft
sunpad is removable, creating a walk-through
transom and making it possible to get to the
dual stowage compartments hidden beneath.
>> WHAT IT IS:
A pleasingly plush bowrider that
puts comfort first.
>> WHAT IT ISN’T:
A luxury lightweight that only
offers the basics.
too, with the design of the boat’s passenger
console. Whereas most consoles of this
type have either a built-in glove box or a
head compartment, the 256 SSi’s console
has both. The door to the head compartment has the glove box built into it, so the
entire unit folds out, allowing for access to
the head inside.
A screened opening portlight and a
portable head are both standard, and a
pumpout is available as an option. Even if
you don’t want a head, this compartment
still makes a great place for stowing great
gobs of gear.
Chaparral has striven to give the 256
SSi’s helm console a big-boat feel that’s
reminiscent of a cruiser. The dash features
an optional mahogany wheel, a molded-in
armrest and clearly identified accessory
rocker switches. Chaparral has also given
the helm a new look via its innovative fourin-one gauges, which are packed with the
valuable information a skipper needs.
Swiveling bucket seats serve the helm
and passenger consoles. The seats are very
comfortable and feature flip-up bolsters.
A small refreshment center with a
built-in cooler, a sink and storage is abaft
the captain’s seat, and a J-shaped settee
runs from the stern side of the refreshment
center to the stern of the cockpit, along the
inside and finishes abaft the passenger
bucket seat. A pair of cupholders is built
into each side of the settee, similar to what
was done at the bow.
The 256 SSi has a convertible sun
lounge abaft the J-shaped settee. The
cushions at the center of the lounge (as
well as the one on the settee) can be
removed, creating walk-through access
when desired. Moreover, the lounge’s side
cushions are hinged and flip up to reveal a
pair of sizable transom storage lockers.
An integrated swim platform is located
at the very back of the boat. Chaparral has
given the platform a built-in telescopic
boarding ladder, and the company has
made sure the platform is big enough for
wakeboards and kneeboards.
There are all sorts of great options on
the boat, including bow filler cushions, a
bow table, a compass, a custom anchor,
pull-up cleats and a through-hull exhaust.
All of the boat’s hatches have a recessed
drainage channel that prevents water from
draining into compartments, and all of the
drink holders have bottom drain tubes
that drain into the bilge.
ONE HOT RIDE
Our test of the 256 SSi
took place on Lake Pleasant,
a little outside of Phoenix,
Arizona. The water was
very flat on the day of our
ride, and we had two adults
and half of a tank of fuel on
With a 6.2L MerCruiser
stern drive powering it,
the boat was quick out of
the hole and very responsive. The ride was spectacularly smooth at low
speeds, and the noise level in the cockpit
remained less than 90 dB when the engine
was running below 2,500 rpm.
At top speed, which was 49.6 mph on
our tester, the sound level was just over 100
dB, which is good and the 6.2 liter engine
was more than up to the task of providing
good acceleration. Tight turns are very
doable at higher speeds, thanks to the
boat’s sharp 22.5-degree deadrise, but we
did notice some cavitation when coming
out of turns.
The boat jumps to plane in 7 seconds
and sprints from 0 to 30 mph in 9 seconds.
Both numbers are about what we’d expect
of a boat this weight with this power package. The boat’s approximately 4,950
pounds provide a very solid ride.
GET ’EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT— A mahogany
steering wheel is available as an option; the
refreshment center includes a built-in cooler, a
sink and storage; a telescopic boarding ladder
is built into the bow; and a removable cooler
is hidden underneath one of the aft settee’s
Our 6.2L MerCruiser had the Bravo 3
drive and a prop with a 26-inch pitch. We
liked the 6.2L with the 256 SSi, but if you
really want to kick the power up a notch,
the boat is available with an engine as
powerful as 425 hp. If we had our druthers,
though, we’d stick with the 6.2L, for its relatively better fuel economy and lower
If we had to describe the ride aboard
the 256 SSi in one word, it would be
“smooth,” so if you take nothing else away
from this test drive, let that be it. The boat
was solid at all times, and there was never
a hint of shuddering.
Other highlights on the 256 SSi that we
haven’t even touched on yet are its very
solid construction, fine fit and finish,
high-end hardware and quick-release
Bimini top. In addition, the boat has
breakers in its circuits instead of fuses, and
the easily accessible contacts are connect-
ed to the battery for easy jumps.
Perhaps the SSi in the 256’s name
stands for “So, So indulgent,” because the
boat offers about as much as one could
ever hope to find on a bowrider. Boaters
looking for a decadent runabout that puts
comfort above all else will find a kindred
spirit in the Chaparral 256 SSi — and with
power options available up to 425 hp, the
boat is definitely no wimp. GO
Chaparral Boats Inc.; (229) 686-7481;
www.chaparralboats.com. Circle 7 on reader
service card, page 105
>>TESTED: CHAPARRAL 256 SSi
Chaparral Boats Inc., P.O. Drawer
928, 300 Industrial Park Blvd.,
Nashville, GA 31639; (229) 6867481; www.chaparralboats.com
LENGTH 26 ft., 5 in.
BEAM 8 ft., 6 in.
DRAFT (down) 3 ft.
WEIGHT (APPROX.) 4,950 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY 80 gals.
MAXIMUM POWER 425 hp
BASE PRICE $59,850
ENGINE PACK AGES AVAIL ABLE:S
(test engine in italics)
350 MAG MPI Bravo 3/300 hp
MX 6.2L MPI Bravo 3/320 hp
496 MAG Bravo 3/375 hp
496 MAG HO Bravo 3/425 hp
5.7 Gi MPI DuoProp/280 hp
5.7 OSi DuoProp/280 hp
5.7 GXi DuoProp/320 hp
5.7 OSXi DuoProp/320 hp
8.1 Gi DuoProp/375 hp
8.1 GXi DuoProp/420 hp
> Visit goboatingamerica.com for a complete list of engine specs and packages.
Portable head, color-coordinated
canvas top, fiberglass cockpit liner,
aft filler cushion, woodgrain dashboard, galley (w/sink, faucet, ice
chest, storage and pressurized
fresh water), self-bailing cockpit,
table w/filler cushion, Bimini top
w/windscreen and boot.
OPTIONAL FEATURES: l
Macerator, pumpout porcelain
head w/holding tank, bow table,
snap-in carpet, compass, bow filler
cushion, tilt steering, mahogany
steering wheel, through-hull
exhaust, depth indicator
w/through-hull transducer, transom stereo remote.
AT OPTIMUM CRUISING SPEED
AT TOP SPEED
AT TOP SPEED
SPEEDS AS TESTED