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Chaparral 297 SSX (2019-)

1 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO

Brief Summary

Standard features on the stylish new Chaparral 297 SSX include Dual Garmin 741xs GPS map/sonar units inset into a glass dash, LED pushbutton switches, double-stitched upholstered consoles, head with vanity sink, folding Bimini and more. An electric folding arch for wakesports is among several upscale options. A dual battery setup with crossover switch ensures plenty of power not only for starting, but also for powering the sound system for many hours.

Key Features

  • Sunbrella color-coordinated Bimini top with windscreen and boot
  • Twin Garmin 741xs GPS map: Includes 7" color display with touchscreen, bluechart G2 coastal and lake VU HD inland mapping, and built-in HD ID sonar
  • Enclosed fiberglass head compartment with LED lighting, opening portlight, and Porta-Pottie
  • Aft bench seating with "Power Slide" system convertible from full bench to sun lounge
  • Insulated bow ice chest with overboard drain
  • 36 quart carry-on cooler with dedicated storage
  • Cockpit table with dedicated storage and side mounted bases in cockpit and bow
  • U-shaped aft seating with hinged cushions

Test Results

650 4.1 3.6 1.6 2.6 2.3 238 207 74
1000 5.9 5.1 2.4 2.5 2.1 221 192.4 77
1500 8.3 7.2 4.3 1.9 1.7 174 151.6 76
2000 9.3 8.1 7 1.3 1.2 120 104.7 89
2500 16.9 14.7 9.7 1.8 1.5 158 137.1 85
3000 25.5 22.1 12 2.1 1.8 191 166 88
3500 32.8 28.5 16.9 1.9 1.7 175 152.3 87
4000 39.3 34.2 23.6 1.7 1.4 150 130.3 90
4500 44.1 38.3 28.5 1.5 1.3 139 121.2 91
4850 48.1 41.8 32.7 1.5 1.3 132 115.1 95
5000 50 43.5 34.3 1.5 1.3 131 114.1 96


Length Overall 29' / 8.84 m
Beam 9'
2.74 m
Dry Weight 6,200 lbs.
2,812 kg
Tested Weight 7,405 lbs.
3,359 kg
Draft Up 23''
0.58 m
Draft Down 38''
0.97 m
Deadrise/Transom 22 deg.
Max Headroom Open
Bridge Clearance 8'
2.44 m
Weight Capacity Yacht Certified
Person Capacity Yacht Certified
Fuel Capacity 100 gal.
379 L
Water Capacity 15 gal.
57 L
Total Weight 7,405 lbs.
3,359 kg


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Acceleration Times & Conditions

Time to Plane 4.1 sec.
0 to 30 10.1 sec.
Ratio N/A
Props 24p B3
Load 3 persons, full load, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
Climate 86 deg., 78 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: -1

Engine Options

Tested Engine 1 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO
Std. Power Not Available
Opt. Power 1 x 350-hp Mercury 6.2L DTS 2.20-Bravo 3
1 x 380-hp Mercury 8.2L DTS 2.00-Bravo 3X
1 x 430-hp Mercury 8.2L HO DTS 2.00-Bravo 3X
Three Volvo Penta optional engines from 350-hp to 430-hp

Captain's Report

Chaparral 287 SSX running

When powered by a single MerCruiser 380-hp sterndrive with Bravo III dual propellers, the 297 SSX hit a top speed of 50 mph (80.5 kph).

Mission Statement. Chaparral designed the 297 SSX to be a luxurious, spacious bowrider that can entertain a crowd during a long day on the water. She competes with premium models from other brands. New on this model are taller hull sides that provide a deeper cockpit, which families with small children will appreciate. Also, Chaparral has upgraded the interior styling with stylish upholstery colors and textures. Available power options include dual-prop sterndrives from Volvo Penta and MerCruiser up to 430-hp.

Chaparral 287 SSX birdseye

With the seating in the bow and extra-large cockpit, the 297 SSX is yacht certified for its capacity rating, which is rare for a boat that measures less than 30’ (9.14 m) long.

Major Features

  • Convertible Aft Lounge. The aft sun lounge can be laid flat or in chaise lounge-style, or can be converted for aft- or forward-facing travel in a variety of positions.
  • Glass Dash. Upgraded dual Garmin 741 xs 7” touchscreen displays provides all the navigation and engine information a captain could want or need. Standard also is Bluechart G2 Coastal and Lake VU HD Mapping and built-in HD ID sonar.
  • 9’ (2.74 m) Beam. The 297 SSX has one of the widest beams in class which makes the cockpit more spacious, improves the ride, and gives the boat a big-boat feel.
  • Integrated Lumbar Support for Bow Seats. Chaparral is already well-known for paying attention to ergonomics, and these seats raise the bar even further.
  • Premium Upholstery. Multiple tones and textures used in the upholstery throughout the boat enhance the luxurious feel. Vinyl upholstery has straight and true hand stitching.
  • Fly-By-Wire. Every 297 SSX is equipped with digital throttle and shift controls as standard equipment.
  • V-Plane Stern Quarters. The hull extends beyond the transom on port and starboard sides, adding buoyance in the stern and slightly more running surface, which makes the boat faster on plane and more stable at low speeds.
  • Higher Freeboard. The higher freeboard allows the boat to have a deeper cockpit and is dryer in sloppy conditions.
  • Bimini Top, Standard. The 297 SSX has a windscreen and comes in several colors.
  • Kevlar in Keel. A layer of bullet-proof Kevlar is laminated into the keel for grounding protection and hull rigidity.

Features Inspection

The Helm. Chaparral says the biggest upgrade for the 2017 297 SSX is the Glass Dash that features two 7” (17.8 cm) Garmin touchscreens. A captain can have his course on one screen and engine information displayed on the other. The helm has the look and feel of a luxury automobile with its deep eyebrow and double French-stitched upholstery. All the accessory switches illuminate with LED lights and the engine controls are digital.

Chaparral 287 SSX twin screens

Twin screens at the dash eliminate the need for conventional instruments and a compass.

Chaparral 287 SSX steering wheel

The tilt steering wheel features fine leather grips and a free-floating logo in the center.

Chaparral 287 SSX throttle and shift

The digital throttle and shift are comfortably positioned to starboard with the stereo control pad just ahead.

The Cockpit. The beam of the 297 SSX is 9’ (2.74 m), which makes it one of the widest in class. This allows the cockpit to feel -- and actually be -- more spacious, making it easier to move around. To add to the entertainment possibilities, the driver’s and companion’s extra-wide seats swivel so their occupants can turn around and join the conversation.

A lounge to port starts just abaft the port bucket seat and wraps around to the passageway to the stern, and to starboard there’s a three-person bench that houses a carry-on cooler. Outboard in each gunwale are speakers and cup holders. The leg for the cockpit table is a side-mount, not in a hole in the sole.

Chaparral 287 SSX lounge

An L-shaped lounge that wraps around to port has space for at least five people to sit comfortably. Note the side-mount for the table.

Chaparral 287 SSX starboard lounge

Chaparral ensures that passengers on the starboard lounge will be comfortable by including a padded backrest on the gunwale. The cooler stays in place because of a raised lip in the sole.

Chaparral 287 SSX portable table

Clip the portable table into position and, voila, there’s an inviting spot to enjoy a snack, lunch, or cocktails.

Cockpit Storage. In a clever design, Chaparral makes the most of the 297 SSX’s under-deck storage in the cockpit. The cockpit/bow table stores in a tub that slides outboard beneath the deck to port, and there’s space in a drawer that slides out of sight in similar fashion to starboard. This is what we call “storage-in-storage.”

In addition to the cooler beneath the starboard lounge, there’s a locker in the base of the forward seat and the bottom cushions to port raise on hinges to reveal open lockers with rubber mat lining inside.

Chaparral 287 SSX storage underneath

In addition to all the open deck space, the 297 SSX has intelligently-designed storage under the deck to take advantage of the boat’s extra beam.

Engine Compartment. The single 8.2-liter big block is installed with through-bolted mounts to the stringers. Twin batteries are outboard to port, secured in the proper trays, and to starboard we found the automatic fire-suppression system.

Chaparral 287 SSX engine

Only MerCruiser offers an 8.2 Liter engine, which can deliver 430-hp. Because the engine has greater displacement than any other available, it has more low-in torque which makes it easier to get wakeboarders up on plane.

Chaparral 287 SSX engine room

Because of the boat’s 9’ (2.74 m) beam, the engine room has more space for storage both port and starboard.

The Aft Lounge. It would be tough to find a more versatile aft lounge than the one on the 297 SSX. It can fold out flat for soaking up the rays. The aft of the four cushions can be tilted up to create a forward-facing chaise-style lounge. The same can be done with the forward-most cushion if people want to sit up facing aft. This would be a good spot for parents to hang out while the kids swim.

Chaparral 287 SSX aft lounge

The aft lounge can be set up as forward- and aft-facing benches with common backrests.

Chaparral 287 SSX stern lounger

Here we see the stern lounger in the forward-facing chaise position. Note the stainless steel hand hold at the left of the picture on a raised fiberglass fixture. This is unusual in boats of this size and is a luxury feature made possible because of the wide beam.

Chaparral 287 SSX chaise lounge mode

The 297 SSX in aft-facing chaise lounge mode; an ideal position to have when at anchor.

Chaparral 287 SSX flat stern seating

In this image, the stern seating is made completely flat for sunning. Note the rear-facing jump seat to port which adds utility.

The Stern. Adjacent to the aft lounge, there’s a passageway to the swim platform that closes with a gate. In addition to the aft section of the adjustable sun lounge, there’s a single seat to port. Just below it is the stereo remote control and freshwater fill. To reduce the possibility of tripping, the cleats on the swim platform are pull-up style models, and conventional cleats that stick up full-time for cross-tying are up on the angled section of the extended bulwarks.

The swim platform measures 2’8” (.81 m) fore to aft and there’s a stainless-steel grab rail with an integrated ski-tow fixture on the trailing edge. Swimmers will like holding on to this rail. In the aft starboard corner, a hatch stays open on tension hinges so the four-step ladder can be deployed.

Chaparral 287 SSX watersports

The swim platform of the Chaparral 297 SSX is purpose-built for launching water sports of all kinds. With the addition of a towel, it becomes another sun pad.

Chaparral 287 SSX soft mat

With the soft mat underfoot, the swim platform will be easy on bare feet as well as boards and skis.

Chaparral 287 SSX tension hinge

In the passageway to starboard, the gate has a tension hinge and opens in to a dedicated slot. Just aft is the fuel fill and below is the pull-out shower.

Chaparral 287 SSX battery

Just ahead of the passageway gate, the battery switches, jumper posts, and circuit breakers are easy to reach when entering the boat.

Chaparral 287 SSX ladder

Tension hinges also hold up the hatch for the four-step boarding ladder, which is aft to starboard on the swim platform.

Port Console/Head. When one of the passengers needs to answer nature’s call, he or she can do so in the port console. The head has a large door that opens wide to make it easy to step down into the compartment. The boat comes standard with a Porta-Potti and owners can upgrade to a pump-out model or an electric head. There is also a stainless-steel sink and an opening port.

We like that the door closes with two latches to ensure it stays secure when the boat is running in rough water. One new feature on the 297 SSX is that the glove box is to port of the head hatch instead of being integrated into it. On the other side of the bow passageway, there is storage in the helm console.

Chaparral 287 SSX hatch

This is a well-designed hatch to the head because the overhead and side cutaways are deeper than we normally see. This makes getting in and out of the compartment far easier.

Chaparral 287 SSX hatch open

With the hatch to the head wide open, even portly guests can enter and exit the head with ease. The glove box is at left in a stationary location.

Chaparral 287 SSX latches

An extra latch ensures that the head door stays closed. This is a thoughtful belt-and-suspenders approach that we like.

Chaparral 287 SSX electric toilet

Our test model had the optional electric toilet. The stainless-steel sink and opening port come standard. Note the wood on the cabinet and decking which give the 297 SSX a classy feel.

Chaparral 287 SSX helm console

In the helm console, there’s storage in a pull-out drawer above, something that is handy and quite unusual. A lockable compartment is below.

The Bow. Moving forward, there is a door that swings out to close off the cool morning breezes. Forward, the area is laid out with a focus on passengers reclining against the backrests and stretching out their legs. New on this boat: Chaparral designed the seats with lumbar supports to enhance comfort. Outboard in each gunwale are grab rails, cup holders, and storage trays. There’s a side-mount fixture for the portable table in the bow positioned so three or more people can have access to it.

Chaparral 287 SSX bow seat backrests

Passengers should like the 1’8” (.51 m) tall bow seat backrests and the deep feel of the forward-most seating area.

Chaparral 287 SSX lumbar support

The lumbar support and folding armrests add an extra element of comfort for bow passengers.

Chaparral 287 SSX table

The table clips in place in the bow so the kids can enjoy lunch.

Bow Storage. For storage, the port and starboard bottom cushions in the bow raise on scissor-style hinges and stay up on their own. Under the forward cushion is a cooler, and in the foredeck, our test model was equipped with the optional windlass and galvanized anchor.

Chaparral 287 SSX bottom cushions

When raised, the bottom cushions stay up on their own to make it easier to retrieve gear.

Chaparral 287 SSX cooler

The cooler under the center bottom cushion in the bow is insulated and drains overboard.

Chaparral 287 SSX filler cushion

A center filler cushion turns the bow seating into a large sun pad.

Chaparral 287 SSX anchoring system

We like the through-the-stem anchoring system. Note the anchor cleat under the hatch, something that many builders don’t include these days. Storage is port and starboard, with the center line seat above an insulated compartment that can be used as a cooler.

Performance Numbers

Top Speed. We tested the 297 SSX with a 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO Bravo III spinning a 24” (61 cm) pitch propset. With three people on board, a full tank of fuel, no freshwater, and our test equipment, our test boat weighed an estimated 7,405 pounds (3,359 kg). We hit a top speed of 50 mph (80.5 kph) at 5000 rpm.

Best cruise came at 3000 rpm where the boat ran 25.5 mph (41 kph) and burned 12.0 gph (45.4 lph), which translated into 2.1 mpg (.9 kpl), giving the 297 SSX a range of 191 statute miles (307 km) -- 10 percent of the boat’s 100-gallon fuel capacity in reserve.

In acceleration tests, she planed in 4.1 seconds and ran to 20 mph (32 kph) in 6.9 seconds and to 30 mph (48 kph) in 10.1 seconds.

Consumer Caveat. Since the Bimini top comes standard, we tested the boat with it fully deployed. Because of the added windage in the open position, it undoubtedly slowed the boat slightly.

Chaparral 287 SSX running port

The 297 SSX is a versatile performer that cut through waves and aced all our maneuverability tests with ease.

Handling. Digital shift and throttle and steering made the 297 SSX a docile boat to drive. With her 22-degree deep-V bottom, she slices through waves and provides a comfortable ride. When we put her through hard turns, the six propeller blades bit well and never ventilated as she came around in about one boat length.

The 297 SSX will scrub speed in a hard turn, so keep applying throttle to keep her on plane. When we drove from a seated position, we noticed some bow rise when coming on plane, so use plenty of power to get the bow to drop quickly. Once the boat levels off at its cruising speed, visibility through the windshield will be unobstructed.

Chaparral 287 SSX acceleration

For towing duties, the 297 SSX had plenty of punch out of the hole, planing in 4.1 seconds.


  • • $118,697 with a single 350-hp MerCruiser 6.2L DTS Bravo 3 with catalyst
  • • $126,665 with a single 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2L DTS Bravo 3X with catalyst
  • • $135,451 with a single 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2L DTS Bravo 3X with catalyst
  • • $122,208 with a single 350-hp Volvo Penta V-8 EVC-E DP with catalyst


5-year premium-level component warranty. Lifetime hull warranty.

Options to Consider

  • • Electric Folding Arch Tower in Black or White ($12,969)
  • • Cockpit and Bow cover ($1,769)
  • • Mooring Cover ($1,354)
  • • Premium Package ($674) -- Includes docking lights, pull-up cleats, bow scuff plate, transom stereo, transom tilt switch and air pump
  • • Pumpout Porta-Potti ($377)
  • • Electric Head ($1,391)
  • • Electric Head with Overboard Discharge ($2,437)
  • • Stainless Steel Transom Shower ($434)
  • • Wetsounds Stereo System Upgrade ($785)
  • • Bowrider Filler Cushion ($917)
  • • Cockpit Carpet ($1,223)
  • • Swim Platform Mat in Silver or Teak ($2,389)
  • • Moving Prop Alert System ($486)
  • • Polished Stainless Steel Anchor for Windlass ($683)
  • • Automatic Fire Suppression System ($683)
  • • Underwater Lights ($800)
  • • Trim Tabs with Indicator Lights ($1,228)
  • • Windlass ($3977)

Chaparral 287 SSX Bimini top

We can see the optional folding tower with the integrated Bimini top being a popular option.


The Chaparral 297 SSX is a premium sportboat and is very much in the top tier of boats in her class. With a 22-degree deadrise and her 9’ (2.74 m) beam, she will be about as comfortable in a chop as any boat in class. Her fit-and-finish is superb and we were hard-pressed to find anything aboard that we would change.

Because of her higher freeboard, not only is she appropriate for lakes and rivers, she can also serve as a fine boat in coastal waters.