SLX 280 Outboard launched for burgeoning US recreational market

by | 3rd July 2023 | Ship & Boat International, Recreational

Home News SLX 280 Outboard launched for burgeoning US recreational market
The SLX 280 Outboard was designed to bring some yacht-style opulence to the day boat market

SLX 280 Outboard at sunset

Designed for optimum onboard space, and boasting state-of-the-art tech for steering and troubleshooting support, Sea Ray’s SLX 280 Outboard series looks set to make quite an impression in leisure boat circles this summer

The US recreational boat market has done a convincing job of shrugging off the world’s troubles, and is attracting new participants and customers on a regular basis. Market research firm Arizton predicts that this sector will reach US$26.18 billion by 2027, up from the US$16.26 billion recorded in 2021, representing expected growth at a CAGR of 8.26%. The analyst credits the roll-out of more intuitive-to-use marine technology (such as joystick docking and automatic trim controls), alongside a boom in the US tourism sector, as the main catalysts of this upturn.

It’s a market that pleasure craft builder Sea Ray is targeting with its recently launched SLX 280 Outboard. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee – one of the states to have witnessed a particular upsurge in water tourism of late – the company has established a number of boat lines, including the SLX series for those who want a “modern, athletic” and sporty design, with sleek exterior lines, while retaining a high degree of comfort and luxurious finishes throughout, Sea Ray opines.

Keith Yunger, Sea Ray president, comments: “Last year we introduced the SLX 260…our latest model maintains the sleek styling and premium features found on the 260, but with more space and additional amenities that help boaters enjoy a day on the water.” As of late April, the SLX 280 Outboard was available to order in North America, and it is likely that global orders will be possible from 2024.

Expanded sunpad

Sea Ray says that the SLX 280 Outboard has been crafted for maximum space and comfort “from bow to stern”.

The quest for more space also informed the design of the cockpit, which features “deeper seating” for enhanced ergonomics as well as seamless storage spaces – the best example perhaps being the cockpit’s floor compartment, which can be used to stow wakeboards, water skis and other water sports gear when not in use. The L-shaped bench seating offers more storage space below.

As customisation is a big part of the builder’s business philosophy, Sea Ray adds: “The cockpit can be upgraded with a drawer-style refrigerator and an end table equipped with an inductive charging station, dry-storage compartment and cup holders.”

The boat features a U-shaped bow, which could serve as the boat’s “socialising spot”, complete with lounge-style seating with foldable arm-rests. The bow is ringed by a vinyl-wrapped, stainless steel safety rail. The transom, meanwhile, hosts an expanded sunpad with an integrated cooler and a compartment for the storage of inflatables and water toys, as well as USB outlets, a two-way acrylic door and an optional fold-down boarding step. A four-step, stainless steel ladder provides easy access between the transom swim platform and the water.

The SLX 280 Outboard’s layout was devised for as much onboard space as possible

The SLX 280 Outboard’s layout was devised for as much onboard space as possible

Dedicated ‘bundles’

Another option is Sea Ray’s electric Power Tower, as featured on previous SLX series builds: an all-in-one extendable sunshade and tow point for water sports enthusiasts, which can be adjusted upwards and downwards (to shield passengers from extreme sun and rain, and to get the boat under bridges) via a switch on the transom. Fully deployed, the Power Tower increases the boat’s air draught to 3m, reducing to 1.72m when retracted.

One of Sea Ray’s popular offerings is the provision of dedicated ‘bundles’ that customers can pick and choose according to their preferences. “The Power Tower can also be enhanced with Fusion Signature Series speakers and LED RGB-W colour-changing lighting via our Wi-Fienabled Entertainment bundle”, Sea Ray says, hinting at the SLX 280 Outboard’s potential as a party boat.

Other options include: the Comfort bundle, which would see the bow area converted into a sunpad with the addition of a teak table and filler cushion; the Anchor bundle, comprising a stainless steel anchor and a windlass with rope and chain; the Lighting bundle, for LED coverage of everything from the hull to the cupholders; and the Essentials bundle, which includes cockpit and tonneau covers, six quick-connect fender clips, and a flagpole with a base and US flag. This latter bundle also includes SeaDek’s glue-down, non-skid flooring solution.

There is also a Water Systems bundle for customers seeking a pull-out sprayer on the transom and a freshwater pressure system with 12V pump and filtration. With regard to customisation, should the SLX 280 Outboard’s standard arctic white exterior not hit the mark, buyers can order the boat in onyx black, rally red, grey or varying blues and greens. Similarly, various patterns are available when it comes to deck and swim platform flooring design.

User-friendly propulsion

The SLX 280 Outboard is powered by twin Mercury 250 Verado engines, enhanced with joystick piloting and Mercury’s integrated SmartCraft technology, Digital Throttle & Shitt (DTS) controls and optional Dynamic Running Surface – all intended to make the boat as easy to steer and dock as possible. The outboard arrangement is sufficient to grant the boat a cruising speed of up to 27knots at 4,000rpm, increasing to 43knots+ with the throttle wide open.

This user-friendly approach is augmented by helm features such as Simrad’s Dual Digital Dash (also included on Sea Ray’s Sundancer 370 Outboard model), which includes standard 9” touchscreen displays, upgradable to 12” models at the customer’s request. Using these, the cox can keep tabs on the Mercury engine data while also overseeing active trim control and monitoring and accessing a chart plofter and depth finder. The suite additionally integrates CZone’s digital switching tool for comprehensive monitoring of onboard systems, and users can adjust the onboard colour of the LEDs via this interface.

As is now becoming a trend in the pleasure vessel segment, where craft and shipboard accessories can easily push up prices to hundreds of thousands of dollars, SLX 280 Outboard owners can connect to the boat’s onboard management system via Android or iPhone, using Mercury Marine’s Bluetooth-enabled VesselView Mobile platform. This makes it possible for the owner, cox or crew to monitor all engines, customise data points and receive alerts if one or both engines encounter problems.

Twin Mercury outboards enable the boat to achieve 45knots when travelling flat-out

Twin Mercury outboards enable the boat to achieve 45knots when travelling flat-out


SLX 280 Outboard Length, oa: 9.58m, 10.01m (with anchor)
Breadth: 2.74m
Draught: 0.89m (outboard down), 0.56m (outboard up)
Weight: 3.65tonnes (dry), 4.69tonnes (water-ready)
Deadrise: 21°
Engines: 2 x Mercury 250 Verado
Output of each engine: 186kW
Cruising speed: 25-27knots
Full speed: 43-45knots
Range: 290km (cruising speed)
Tank capacities
Fuel: 511litres
Water: 76litres (with Water Systems bundle)

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