Pioneer 222 Sportfish Review

Pioneer's new 222 Sportfish exudes quality

SF web exclusive boat home

SF web exclusive boat home

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Even from a distance, the clean, classic lines and open, fishy layout of the new 222 Sportfish from Pioneer Boats beckoned me near. And the closer I looked, the more I liked the 22-foot center console, as the fit and finish proved uncompromising in quality. The fiberglass work was immaculate: Joints fit tightly, the undersides of all hatches were gelcoated, and the bilge and console interior featured full liners. This was my first encounter with a Pioneer boat, and based on my first impression, I hope to climb aboard more in the future.

TARGET MARKET: An easy tow with a half-ton truck, the 222 Sportfish is ideal for saltwater anglers who want the flexibility to fish the blue water or the bays, and occasionally enjoy watersports with friends and family. Best of all, this boat can do it all while enjoying outstanding fuel economy. Powered by the new DF300AP from Suzuki Marine, the Pioneer 222 attained 4.25 mpg at about 31 mph, albeit in calm water with a light load. Our top speed was nearly 53 mph, convincing me that the 222 is no slouch when it comes to performance.

FISHIEST FEATURES: The leaning-post-style helm seat has four rod holders built into the backrest, as well as a 32-gallon live well with a latching clear-acrylic lid incorporated into the seat base. You'll also find stainless-steel toe rails in the cockpit for angler security in rough water, with coaming pads along both gunwales to protect your thighs. The optional T-top with hardtop features an electronics box, seven rod holders and twin aft-facing spreader lights. The console's helm has plenty space to flush mount a 15.5-inch multifunction LCD display.

THE LAYOUT: Anglers will love the transom design because it maximizes cockpit space astern for fishing, yet also retains a full bulkhead to help keep following seas out of the boat. To help ease the task of cast-netting for bait or fighting a fish around the bow without snagging a line, the stainless-steel bow rail is recessed into the gunwale and the two pull-up bow cleats remain flush when not in use. An elevated bow deck offers extra height for throwing a net.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: The 222 offered a dry ride in two- to three-foot waves, its deep-V hull knifing smoothly through head seas and responding smartly to the Teleflex Sea Star hydraulic steering and Suzuki digital throttle. The all-composite, hand-laid fiberglass hull also felt remarkably solid with nary a rattle or creak. I found the hull very sensitive to trim-tab adjustment – you don't need much tab to influence the attitude or balance. If you're comparing top-quality, well-finished trailerable center-console boats, there's now another name to add to your list – Pioneer's 222 Sportfish.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 22 ft. 1 in.

BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in.

DRAFT: 1 ft. 2 in.

DEADRISE: 20 deg.

WEIGHT: 2,400 lb. (w/o power)

FUEL: 105 gal.

MAX. POWER: 300 hp OB

SUZUKI 300 HP FOUR-STROKE

TYPE: V-6

DISPLACEMENT: 245.6 cid

MAX RPM: 6,300

HP/LB RATIO: 0.497

GEAR RATIO: 2.08:1

WEIGHT: 604 lb.

ALTERNATOR OUTPUT: 54 amps

MSRP as tested: $65,699

PERFORMANCE AT A GLANCE

TOP SPEED: 52.9 mph

TIME TO PLANE: 5.4 sec.

0-30 MPH TIME: 10.4 sec.

BEST MPG: 4.25 @ 31.3 mph (4,000 rpm)

MAXIMUM RANGE: 446 miles

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Pioneer's new 222 Sportfish offers a smooth ride and superb handling.Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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The 222 Sportfish from Pioneer Boats can handle outboards up to 300 hp. Our test boat was powered by Suzuki's new DF300AP with digitial throttle and shift.Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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Our test boat attained amazing fuel efficiency, achieving 4.25 mpg at 31.3 mph. With a 105-gallon fuel tank, that equates to a maximum range of 446 miles.Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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The cockpit of the Pioneer 222 Sportfish is remarkably large, thanks to a transom design that maximizes deck space in the stern.Jim Hendricks
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An optional T-top for the 222 features a hardtop with built-in spreader lights and seven rod holders on the aft edge.Jim Hendricks
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The helm of Pioneer's 222 has abundant space available for flush-mounting one or more electronic multifunction displays. Our test boat featured Teleflex Sea Star hydraulic steering and Suzuki's digital throttle and shift system, as well as Lenco trim tabs.Jim Hendricks
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Flip-up jump seats in the stern quarters create additional seating for crew, but also quickly fold away when the fishing action turns serious.Jim Hendricks
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The pod-style base of the leaning-post helm seat incorporates a 32-gallon live well with a clear-acrylic lid. The anodized aluminum frame of the backrest features a quartet of rod holders.Jim Hendricks
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A removable cooler forward of the center console doubles as a forward-facing seat with a backrest. There's also a step-down head compartment inside the console, accessed by a door on the port side.
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Anglers will appreciate the stainless-steel grab rail recessed into the bow gunwales of the 222 Sportfish. A voluminous anchor locker resides the forepeak.Jim Hendricks