Crownline Boats has built its reputation on comfort and innovation in hull design, making bowriders, cabin cruisers, wake boats, and center consoles in the competitive powerboat market.
When potentially purchasing a Crownline boat, the prospective owner needs to know: Are Crownline Boats good?
Here’s How Good Crownline Boats Are:
Crownline Boats is a solid mid-tier manufacturer, whether offshore fishing, wake sports, or family recreation. Their boats tend to be heavier than the competition, but they have a good reputation for performance due to their unique F.A.S.T. Tab hull design.
A Brief History Of Crownline Boats
The company was founded in 1991 in Whittington, Illinois, with fewer than 25 employees and no dealers at all.
Their first boats proved popular, and they soon signed up dealers and established a distribution network.
The first five years of the company were very successful, and they quickly outgrew their original facilities. They moved production to a larger location in West Frankfort, Illinois.
The company experienced steady growth until the 2000s, when the entire marine industry slowed down. During this time, new owners took over, and disagreements between them and some of the leadership team caused a rift, and some leaders left the company.
In 2008, the economic downturn affecting the industry for nearly a decade caused Crownline to shut its doors. The company was shut down and went up for sale.
The company repaired its reputation and began innovative design work, such as the F.A.S.T. Tab hull. The 2010s saw the company firmly reestablish itself in the marine industry, with over 90 dealers in their global network.
In 2021, Crownline agreed with Mercury Marine to exclusively distribute Mercury engines on their boats, beginning with the 2022 model year.
How Reliable Are Crownline Boats?
Every boat manufacturer likes to highlight their unique aspects to set their brand apart from the others in the minds of potential customers.
Crownline is no different in this, and their F.A.S.T. Tab hull is an intriguing bit of engineering.
F.A.S.T. stands for “Fin-Assisted Safe Turn.” The design principle here is that the vented chines on the hull’s surface aerate the water to reduce drag, and the tabs prevent handling quirks that are often associated with chines.
Practically, this means that the hull bites into turns and is very responsive to trim. Also, the aeration helps the boat get onto a planer quicker, and it seems to glide for a bit after the power is throttled back.
This is very important given the heavier hulls that Crownline produces, which they acknowledge. The heavier hulls go back to their philosophy of designing to function rather than a price point.
Luxurious recreation is the primary design philosophy, rather than all-out speed performance. They tend to be a bit heavier with more amenities than many comparable brands and the thick fiberglass used in building the hull.
How Durable Are Crownline Boats?
The fiberglass construction in Crownline boats is very thick. This is one of the factors that makes the hulls heavier than their competition.
Currently, Crownline does not use any wood at or below the waterline in its construction. This is a change from their previous construction method.
Wood is still used in some of the deckings. Crownline has one of the best warranties in the industry. The hull, stringers, transom, and deck are all covered for the boat’s life for the original owner.
Almost everything else on the boat is under a 5-year warranty, including the upholstery. Being a luxury boat, upholstery has always been a focus of the company.
One thing that has a lesser warranty is the gel coat. The warranty on cosmetic gel coat cracking is 18 months.
Crownline likes to say that their standard features are other brands’ standard options. Air conditioner/heater, an automatic fire extinguishing system, large touchscreens, wet/dry speakers, and durable upholstery are standard on most models.
This adds not just to the boat’s overall durability but also the value down the road.
One interesting comment from an owner concerning the durability of the boat that sums up many owners’ views was:
“This boat is built like an Aircraft Carrier. It can take a beating. I accidentally ran over some rocks, and the boat just kept on going as nothing happened.”
[Source: Consumer Affairs]
What About Older Crownline Boats?
In talking about older Crownline boats, we’ll delineate them as those made before the company temporarily shut down production before 2008.
The early models from the 1990s and early 2000s are generally well-regarded. Many of the design principles and the quality mindset they are known for now applied to the early days in which their reputation was established.
In the 2000s, though, some problems began arising. Some of the hulls from this time developed a reputation among owners for riding roughly in chop or waves of most sizes.
There was some inconsistency in the fiberglass quality during these times, as well. Some damaged boats showed that the resin did not completely saturate the fiberglass, making it brittle.
One owner discovered this as his hull brushed up against a dock, crushing the gunwale and revealing the poor fiberglass work.
The company also used balsa coring in those days.
While there is legitimate debate on wood coring, the fact is that if it is properly encased in fiberglass, it will not be a problem. Still, given the occasional problems in construction oversight the company seemed to be having in the 2000s, it is not a surprise that some individual boats had problems with the coring.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Crownline Boats generally tries to keep parts available for boats made within the last 5 years.
They do not sell parts directly to customers for do-it-yourself repairs; instead, they guide the customer to the dealer network to obtain these parts repaired through certified service centers.
For replacement parts older than five years, Crownline Boats encourages owners to contact two different providers. The company provides discontinued stock; these retailers have actual O.E.M. parts from Crownline Boats.
The first of these companies is greatlakesskipper.com, which is a major online retailer of replacement boat parts.
The second company is Bud’s Discount Marine, which operates online through its eBay store.
If an owner is still unable to locate a particular discontinued part, their best bet at that point is to visit the Crownline Boats owners’ forum, crowniehq.com. These are active forums, and many inquiries for older parts here meet with success.
What Are Typical Problems With Crownline Boats?
A common complaint about Crownline is the rough ride as the chop picks up.
The F.A.S.T. Tab system alleviates this largely, but given the heavier hull and higher freeboard several models have, it still comes up occasionally.
One problem that shows up in online searches is cracks in the gel coat. Most of these are cosmetic and do not let water past, but some owners have an issue.
While Crownline has a very good warranty, some online complaints about the difficulty in obtaining certain warranty work, examining specific claims, most of the problems seem to be in communications with the dealers in the network.
As Crownline generally does not communicate with owners directly, miscommunications seem to be at the root of many issues.
Going over recent complaints about the company, there seem to be many small issues in the finishing, like poor hatch hinges and some speaker issues. Most of these are on smaller models.
Most of the commentary on forums is very positive concerning Crownline Boats. There are no consistently reported problems that would be considered typical, outside of some poor dealership relations.
How Long Do Crownline Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Based on all available evidence, a boat from Crownline will last as long as a boat from any comparable brand.
They generally overbuild their hulls (as they ignore building to a price point), so the durability of the fiberglass is not a problem.
The one possible exception here is some of the models built in the mid-2000s before the company briefly shut down. There are reports of poor fiberglass work during this period.
If you are purchasing a Crownline from this period, you should get a marine survey done (but that is usually a good idea, anyway!).
The caveat, as usual, is that any boat can fall apart if the owner does not properly maintain it, but given the thickness of the hull, Crowlines can probably take a little more owner abuse than average.
Do Crownline Boats Hold Their Value?
Crownline Boats seem to hold their value very well, better than the average of their competition.
A 2015 21 S.S. sterndrive model cost $46,730 new in that year. Currently, that boat has an average resale value of $38,200. That is a depreciation of 19%, which is favorable.
A 2015 330 SY, a 33-foot cabin cruiser, cost $256,610 as a new boat that year. Now that model has an average resale value of $217,500, which is a depreciation of 15%.
This is a very favorable rate of depreciation.
Are Crownline Boats Still Being Made?
Crownline Boats are being made in their West Frankfort, Illinois facility.
They currently make 34 models of boats, all with some degree of customization through colors and options.
They make 11 models of outboards and 12 models of sterndrives, all in the 19- to 30-foot range. The outboard models start at $39,995, and the sterndrives start at $47,995.
They have a line of wake surf boats, which run from 22 to 28 feet and start at $74,995.
They have 3 models in their Cruiser line, which spans 26 to 35 feet in length, and they begin at $109,995.
Finally, the company makes 5 models of center consoles, ranging from 20 to 28 feet, and they begin at $49,995.
Crownline Boats has had many ups and a few downs in its 30+ years of existence.
They have established a solid reputation as a reliable mid-tier brand focused on luxury and comfort.
Looking at that price range, a new or used Crownline will generally be a good choice if your focus is a relaxing day on the water with your family and friends.