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.
- • 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- • $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)
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.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Chaparral 297 SSX (2019-) is 50.0 mph (80.5 kph), burning 34.3 gallons per hour (gph) or 129.83 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Chaparral 297 SSX (2019-) is 25.5 mph (41 kph), and the boat gets 2.1 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.89 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 191 miles (307.38 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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