Quite a number of 26x owners swear by them. I owned 1995/96 model for a year, and had a lot of problems with it. I had to make a lot of modifications to the boat to make it suitable for the type of sailing I wanted to do, and to fix some of the problems. In the end, I decided I was throwing good money after bad, and that the boat would never be able to do what I needed it to do. I needed a boat that could handle extended coastal cruising throughout the Sea of Cortez. The Mac 26x was not that boat.
I have never posted a real review of the 26x publicly, though I have emailed a number of people, because I didn't want to alienate current 26x owners. However, this boat gets brought up a lot, so I guess its time. Please note that the following review is strictly my personal opinion.
My evaluation of the 26x is this: The 26x is, at best, a compromise. It attempts to be both sailboat and powerboat, but does neither very well. It is a decent lake cruiser, but I do not feel it is adequate for anything beyond very short range, protected coastal cruising in salt water. Let me preface some of what I am about to write, by saying that I have heard that a few issues have been addressed by MacGregor in recent models (I will mention these as I go), but my evaluation of the boat has not changed dramatically.
Living space: This is the 26x's greatest strength. It has the most interior living space I've seen on a trailerable 26 footer, and it has standing headroom. It also has a very large, comfortable cockpit.
Accommodations: I separate this from living space, because I have some real criticisms here, and this is one of the areas you have to put a lot of effort into to make the Mac acceptable. There is a lot of sleeping space, and under-the-seat bulk stowage, but other than that, there isn't much else. The head is just a very tiny room to put a porta-potty, and is pretty cramped. This wasn't a big problem for me, I'm only 5' 8", 150 lbs, but it can be an issue for some people. There are no real water tanks. The "fresh water system" consists of hand pumps connected to cheap $5 collapsible water jugs that are not secured. The quality of the hand pumps is very low, by the way, mine leaked and one broke clean off and had to be replaced. I replaced the cheap water jugs with a 15 gallon Plastimo tank and deck fill. There is plenty of sleeping space, but the cushions are very thin and the apholstry work is shoddy at best. The fiberglass pop-up dinette table is too thin, it flexes and mine became curved over time. The interior liner is paper thin and this makes securely attaching things rather difficult. The head door is made of laminated particle board, and mine warped so severely, it had to be replaced. None of the wood in the boat (which is used for stowage covers, cushion backs, the head door) is marine grade (or even decent grade) plywood. On my boat, the tile counter work on the galley (tile????) was really poorly done. The big, one piece fiberglass companionway hatch board is a pain in the rear to stow.
Ventilation is very poor. You will have to add some opening ports, because there is a lot of air volume in the boat, and circulation is really needed. An opening port or vent in the head is an absolute must.
Sailing performance: The MacGregor can get some pretty impressive performance off the wind. Its flat bottom will even plane occasionally when under sail in decent winds on a beam. However, its to-weather performance is atrocious. I didn't really understand just how bad it was, until I started actively sailing other boats. The boat suffers from excessive freeboard combined with light weight, so not only is its performance into the wind poor, but it tacks across the wind poorly as well. This is a common complaint even of happy 26x owners, though I know a few who will adamantly deny it. The water ballast system makes the boat very tender, with a lot of initial heel before the boat stabilizes. I did not like the water-ballast valve arrangement on my 26x, but this has been fixed in more recent models.
Powering performance: I had a 50hp Tohatsu engine, the one that Mac was selling with the boat. It turned out that that particular Tohatsu was not well suited for salt water due to fact that its steering hardware was not stainless steel. This is the maximum size engine that the boat is rated for. MacGregor's claim of 25mph (not knots) under power is misleading. That number is based on powering the boat without mast and rigging, with one person and no gear beyond, perhaps, a beer in hand. For every 100lbs you add to the boat, the speed drops by about 1mph. I found that 15-18mph was pretty much tops, depending on how many people and provisions I had on board. It did steer pretty smartly under power, however reverse was not so good. Fuel tankage is provided through one or two 9 gallon EXTERNAL fuel tanks. The 50hp engine will suck that gas up pretty quick if you are speeding around a lot. Don't plan on a lot of range under power.
Steering: This is one of the 26x's weakest "features". The wheel on the wheel steering is way too small. The steering helm, or gear box, is one of the cheapest powerboat helm you can buy, and is, in my opinion, completely inadequate even for a powerboat the size of the 26x, much less a sailboat that has to deal with substantial rudder feedback. I literally destroyed the helm of my 26x in rough weather. I ended up replacing the helm with a heavy duty, steel model (the stock helm is milled aluminum) that could handle just about anything. However, that was a $700 modification! The small dual rudders didn't perform so well, and could not handle substantial following seas at all. NOTE: MacGregor has changed the design of the rudders to improve their performance, though I do not know by how much. Also, they appear to have improved some aspects of the steering hardware, related to the rudder/engine connection (which was quite a problem on mine), but I am not aware of any improvements to the steering helm. They have replaced the crappy cast rudder gudgeons (one of mine broke) with proper stainless steel hardware. One other note: There is no provision for an emergency tiller if the wheel steering fails (which mine did).
Thru-hulls: On my Mac, the 2 thruhulls had no seacocks, and the stems for connecting the hoses were simply fiberglass, molded directly out of the hull. This is an incredibly poor way to implement a thru-hull. The fiberglass stems were way to thin to be safe, and such plumbing should never be made out of fiberglass anyway, too easy to break! In addition, the hoses were connected with only a single hose clamp, and the hose clamps rusted quickly, which was a good indicator of what quality they were. I replaced the hose clamps, and double clamped. What really needed to be done to make the boat seaworth was to either remove the thru-hulls altogether, or cut out the fiberglass stems and install proper thru-hulls and seacocks.
Construction quality: I really got into the guts of the boat, so I think I have a pretty good understanding of how well they are built. Not very well, is my evaluation. As I said before, the liner is paper thin. The hull is only a little better. The hull will flex by simply pushing your hand against it. The deck can flex from just walking across it. NOTE: I have heard that with this years model, MacGregor has changed the design of the deck to reduce flex. I do not know how well the design change works. The fiberglass work in my 26x ranged from barely adequate to really crappy. There were many voids (including a HUGE one in one of the rudders). The thickness of the fiber glass varied enormously, and I'm not talking planned, gradual thickness changes here, I'm talking thin spots were there should not be thin spots.
The trailer: If you buy a 26x, take the $700 credit they will give you on their toy trailer and buy a decent one. The stock single axle trailer is completely inadequate for a boat that size, and it is poorly built.
Value: With a 50hp engine and options, you will spend, right off the bat, anywhere from 22-28k on a 26x. For those kind of bucks, you can get a really, REALLY nice used sailboat that will actually perform like a sailboat and be seaworthy.
In conclusion, you need to seriously evaluate just what you plan to do with your new boat. The 26x can be a fun boat to party on at the lake, but if your plans go beyond that, I think you need to be looking at other sailboats.