Searay 280 SLX – Bowrider

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Sea Ray 280 SLX

With luxurious seating for up to 15, the Sea Ray 280 SLX has lots of room to party.

New Zealand Sea Ray dealer, Sports Marine have just landed their first 280 SLX, which follows last year’s sale of the stunning, 350 SLX, one of the largest production bow riders made. The 280 SLX is very much a smaller version of the 350 SLX and is certainly a head turner. While the 280 SLX comes with just about everything you need in the standard package, you can add more. Upscale options include a hydraulically actuated swim platform and an articulating Bimini/watersports tower and the Dynamic Display “glass cockpit” on the dash, among many others. Leather-wrapped grab-rails are standard, as is plush, diamond-stitched and embroidered upholstery.

Sea Ray developed the 280 SLX to provide families looking for a big luxurious bowrider and a do-everything boat in a single-engine package. She comes well equipped for water sports or cruising and can handle up to 15 people and all their carry-on gear. Options such as a submersible hydraulic swim platform and an award-winning power tower that folds down with the push of a button further enhance the 280 SLX’s versatility.

The Bow

Since the 280 SLX is a big bowrider, let’s start with her bow. The seating area measures 1.88m across the backrests on the consoles and 1.17m across forward. The side lounges have 1.27m of cushion fore to aft so passengers can stretch out. Outboard gunwale trays contain speakers and have 12-volt power plugs. There’s a bracket to mount a table forward and a filler cushion is an available option. 

The 280 SLX’s bow has good storage capacity starting with the anchor locker beneath a hatch in the foredeck. There’s a large locker in the sole that opens on a gas strut and the forward seat bottom cushions can be pulled aside to access small compartments. The side lounge bottom cushions lift up on scissor-style hinges that hold them up so crewmembers can use two hands to deal with gear being stowed or retrieved. The locker in the starboard console is big enough for an adult to crawl inside and there are removable panels that provide access to helm rigging.

The Cockpit

The center section of the windshield opens to make it easy to move aft into the cockpit. Close the windshield and the passageway beneath it with a bi-fold door and you have protection in the cockpit from onrushing winds. Behind the passageway door is a locker that’s home to the optional electrical system switch panel. To starboard in the cockpit, the helm is available with an optional digital Dynamic Display that looks like it belongs in a private jet. 

It provides all engine, audio and navigation information on a 31.2 cm touchscreen. The steering wheel is on a tilt helm and just ahead, Sea Ray hides the battery switch, which is a good idea for easy access and security. Just to the left is the control for the Rockford Fosgate stereo and to the right are the accessory switches, the digital throttle/shift control and the buttons for the electronic trim tabs.

The 250 SLX’s helm seat is a doublewide model with fold-up bolsters for the driver and a companion so either can travel in a seated or standing position. It adjusts fore and aft on a slider and there’s an angled footrest on the helm console. Across from the helm to port, the console opens to provide entry into the 280 SLX’s private head compartment. The hatch locks for privacy and inside is a sink with a pull-up faucet and shower clip and a portable toilet.

he head is a finished fiberglass liner that will make it easy to keep clean. Outboard of the head entry hatch is a stainless-steel bottle rack and a glovebox lined with soft rubber mat and equipped with a 12-volt plug.

Across from the helm, there’s a single swiveling bucket seat just abaft the port console. Outboard in the gunwale is a grab rail and one of the ten stainless cup holders aboard the 280 SLX. Behind the bucket seat, a large lounge wraps all the way aft to the passageway to the stern.

To starboard, abaft the helm seat, is a lounge with a dedicated spot for one of the boat’s two carry-on coolers underneath the cushion. Owners can add the optional drawer-style refrigerator under the forward half of this seat. Sea Ray uses the same scissor-style hinges we found on the bow seats to raise the cushion on the port lounge. Skis and boards can be stashed in the in-sole locker between the helm and companion’s seats. It has dual locking latches and opens on twin gas struts.

With the push of a button, the aft section of the cockpit lounge raises on a power ram to provide good access to the 280 SLX’s engine and the fuel tank, which is just ahead. Pull out the bottom cushion in the corner of the lounge and the twin batteries are secured in plastic trays in their own compartment.

The Stern

Passengers can make their way to the 280 SLX’s stern recreation area via a passageway to starboard. There is a storage compartment beneath a hatch in the sole and we’d like to see Sea Ray install a gate to close off the area. Our test model had the switches for the optional watersports tower and hydraulic swim platform in a small cabinet in the passageway.

The swim platform has plenty of space to sit and strap on a board and to keep the topsides uncluttered. The four-step ladder secures underneath. If the boat is equipped with the hydraulic swim platform, the drive trims down when the platform is lowered into the water. The stern seat measures 1.75 m across and has ratcheting backrests that let users customize their position.

For the base price of $NZ???????, the standard boat comes with a 350-hp MerCruiser 6.2L ECT Bravo 3 with digital throttle and shift. For an extra $NZ???????, an owner can upgrade to the 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT or for $NZ?????, the 430-hp, 8.2 MAG HO ECT engine. Landed price in New Zealand with the standard engine option and a load of extras was $NZ269,000.

Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride and its Tuned Transom are part of a system that the manufacturer designed to reduce noise and vibration in all its boats. A boat without the system averages 86.2 decibels, while a boat equipped with Quiet Ride averages 79.4, according to Sea Ray.


The Sea Ray 280 SLX is a big luxurious bowrider that should appeal to families that want the passenger space of a deck boat, but with the ride and performance that comes with a V-bottom. She comes at a luxury price and with a pretty comprehensive list of standard equipment. At a dry weight of 3,183 kg and a beam of 2.74 m, she’s a little wider than standard but this should not present a problem when trailering.

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