Traditionally powered by small to mid-sized stern drives, deck boats took a big hit in the early 2000s after severe emissions regulations imposed by the EPA significantly drove up engine costs, pricing most deck boats right out of the market. But with the subsequent development of new low-emission outboards, deck boats are back in a really big way.

One manufacturer that’s leading the deck boat revival is Starcraft, as evidenced by its all-new MDX series for 2017. Stretching 21 feet, 10 inches in overall length and with a spacious 102-inch beam, the top-of-the-line MDX 211 is sized just right – it’s compact enough to be easily trailered, yet roomy enough to make you think you’re in a much larger boat.

The MDX 211 is a fresh design with some nice surprises, starting with a full-width swim platform – a feature you rarely see on outboard-powered boats. For a family runabout that will see its share of mid-day swims, this is a great feature that’s unique in the market. Look carefully and you’ll note there’s even integrated fender storage to boot.

A full-width swim platform on an outboard-powered deck boat? Yes indeed.  Starcraft's MDX 211 has more than a few lovely surprises.

A full-width swim platform on an outboard-powered deck boat? Yes indeed. Starcraft’s MDX 211 has more than a few lovely surprises.

The swim platform is finished in Starcraft’s Marine Mat soft-touch surface, which provides a comfortable, durable non-slip surface that doesn’t get hot in the summer sun. Across the transom is a near full-width, rear-facing bench seat  that’s interrupted only by a small transom pass-through with a safety gate on the starboard end. The seat back adjusts to form a comfy sun pad, if desired, and there’s a a ski tow pylon in the transom.

The cockpit offers a wide-open floor plan which seats 12 people comfortably. A soft L-shaped lounge spans the transom and continues along the port side to where it meets a small console across from the helm. Of course, there’s a mountain of storage space in the seat bases, and a dedicated storage spot for a removable 36-quart cooler under the stern seat.

The little port-side console features a solid-surface countertop, complete with a sink, faucet and two integrated beverage holders. It’s a sweet arrangement, and again unusual in a boat of this type.

The little port-side console features a solid-surface countertop, complete with a sink, faucet and two integrated beverage holders.

The little port-side console features a solid-surface counter top, complete with a sink, faucet and two integrated beverage holders.

The comfortable wrap-around seating continues forward of the console, encircling the boat all the way forward and around to the helm. Up front, a broad bow platform with a non-skid surface, anchor locker, and a fold-down bow boarding ladder is a great feature. A wrap-around stainless steel grab rail provides an extra margin of security for passengers seated up front while the boat’s underway.

The driver gets to enjoy a stylish helm console with the speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, volt gauge and switches for the lights and other accessories positioned within direct sight. A small windshield does a surprisingly effective job of keeping the breeze off, while the driver’s seat – complete with flip-up bolster – not only swivels, but slides on its base to adjust for drivers of all sizes. Tilt hydraulic steering is a nice touch. A standard AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary port for an MP3 player drives four marine-grade speakers in the seat bases for great sound.

The helm is stylish yet simple, capped by a super-comfortable sport steering wheel.

The helm is stylish yet simple, capped by a super-comfortable sport steering wheel.

A large in-floor storage locker gobbles up bulky toys like water skis, fishing rods and wake boards, while a small metal base plate accepts the standard, removable pedestal-mount table. Overhead, the MDX 211 even comes with a standard Bimini top.

Being a Starcraft, the MDX 211 is built to last, and fully protected by Starcraft’s Lifetime Plus 6 warranty that guards the hull for life and the major components for six full years.

The wrap-around seating goes right to the helm console. There's a ton of storage space in the seat bases too.

The wrap-around seating goes right to the helm console. There’s a ton of storage space in the seat bases, too.

Although it is rated to accept outboards of up to 200 horsepower, our review boat was rigged with a brand new Evinrude E-TEC G2 150 HO. This all-new-for 2017 engine is the cleanest-burning outboard in the world, and that’s not just according to Evinrude – that’s based on actual engine certification data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s quiet, it goes like a rocket, and you’ll never smell another exhaust fume again. Talk about a good match for a family boat.

The Evinrude E-TEC G2 150 HO is a good match for the MDX 211.

The Evinrude E-TEC G2 150 HO is a good match for the MDX 211.

Starcraft’s MDX 211 is a versatile deck boat that does a lot of things well. With the availability of new economical outboard power, it’s a good bet we’ll see a lot of these boats out on the water this summer.

Starcraft MDX 211 Specs

Length: 21’ 10”
Beam: 102”
Dry Weight: 2,715 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 44 gal.
Passenger Capacity: 12
Maximum Power: 200 hp

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