You may be in the market for a new boat to replace one that is getting a little tired, a little small, or doesn’t meet your needs. You may be shopping for your first boat and need a little direction about styles, features, and performance that fit into your budget. We are here to help.
Boats come in many different styles from an array of different manufacturers. Navigating the literature, search results, facts, and figures can be intimidating. We have taken our knowledge of the boating world to give you what we believe to be the 15 best boats in several different styles.
Of course, our reviews are not exhaustive. You must do a little work on your own. We can provide an overview of what we consider to be outstanding features and values. From there, you can continue shopping to find the boat that best fits your needs and budget.
Bowriders are undeniably the most popular boat style on the market today. With their open-forward cockpit design, powerful engines, and sleek designs, these boats appeal to families who want performance for various waterborne activities.
Yamaha has packed a lot into a 19-foot boat with the 195S. Considering that the base boat comes standard with two captain chairs, a ski locker, tilt steering and teak-style marine mats, you can already see why Yamaha is a market leader. You also get a Bimini top, tow hooks, and stainless-steel hardware throughout the boat.
The standard Yamaha engine is a four-cylinder super vortex high output engine coupled to a saltwater-rated corrosion-resistant driveline. This package drives a three-blade stainless steel impeller through the 160MM impellor assembly.
Forty gallons of onboard fuel storage means you can boat all day without returning to the marina for fuel. Speaking of convenience, the touchscreen display gives you all the information you need to operate your boat safely and efficiently.
For those who want the best wakeboarding and water-skiing experiences, a folding wakeboard tower is standard equipment, as are windshield mirrors. You can add the optional wakeboard racks to the wakeboard tower for even more convenience. The stern-mounted swim platform gives swimmers and skiers easy access to the water and back to the boat.
Base Price: $47,499
Length: 19 feet 5 inches
The VR6 is the largest bowrider model offered by Bayliner, and it still comes in under $50,000. These boats are designed to run efficiently with the 200 HP Mercury engine. Bayliner’s BeamForward design brings high gunnels to provide a drier ride in heavy seas and more under-seat storage. This design makes a more pleasant and safer ride when conditions become a little rough.
The U-shaped rear lounge area allows the cockpit to become an entertainment area for great days on the lake. You also enjoy an enclosed changing room in this design.
Most boats in the class and size can’t provide this kind of convenience. An integrated swim platform on the stern finishes the classic touches to make the VR6 a true family-friendly boat.
A long list of standard features makes the Bayliner VR6 an outstanding value in bowrider-style boats. Touches like a choice of interior and exterior colors, bucket seats, and the waterproof AM/FM stereo system complete with Bluetooth connectivity give these boats an air of elegance that belies the price.
Base Price: $45,850
Length: 22 feet 7 inches
Glastron GTD 180
Glastron is one of the most recognizable names in recreational boating. This company’s long history of building economical and reliable boats makes it an easy choice for this list. The GTD 180 is a great entry-level boat for families who want to “get their feet wet” with their first boat. These boats offer great value, have a tradition of long life, and provide a wide range of options and upgrades if you want to customize your boat.
You won’t find many boats in the eighteen-foot category with a capacity rating of ten people. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an entry-level boat must be bare-boned. Glastron includes numerous features you might not expect to find on comparable boats costing thousands of dollars more.
Such items as a swim platform, all stainless steel through-hull fittings, u-shaped cockpit seating, in-floor storage lockers, and a horsepower rating of up to 150 HP. Each Glastron GTD 180 features a built-in fuel capacity of 32 gallons, letting you spend hours on the water without worrying about finding a marina with gas. You can add a tow sports package with a removable tow pylon, wakeboard racks, and a wakeboard tower and still be under the $50.000 mark.
Base Price: $35,687
Length: 18 feet
Bay boats feature relatively shallow drafts that make operating in coastal bay areas feasible. These designs also provide the hull formation to venture offshore for reasonable distances easily, bay boats are very popular along the coastal regions with fishermen and families. Bay boats are typically considered niche designs but have rapidly gained popularity.
The design of the Bayliner T20CX offers one of the most spacious bow configurations available on any bay boat on the market. This design delivers safety and a dry ride despite the roughest conditions on the water. The large bow area is easily convertible from a spacious casting area to a comfortable lounge area in minutes.
Both captains and crew alike will benefit from the self-bailing cockpit and the enclosed head compartment built into the center console. Rod storage is built into the gunwales to keep your precious tackle safe and out of the way. Every Bayliner T20X comes standard with a Mercury outboard motor rated for 175 HP to get you where you want to go economically and quickly.
Optional accessories include towing packages, fishing packages and upgrades to almost every system component on the boat. However, the base configuration is more than enough to get you on the water whether you are interested in coastal fishing or family recreation. With a 55-gallon fuel capacity, you can find those distant fishing spots without worry.
Base Price: $43,000
Length: 20 feet 6 inches
Crestliner 2000 Bay
If you prefer a metal boat to a fiberglass model, the Crestliner 2000 Bay is an excellent alternative. The Crestliner Multi Mod-V hull is designed as a modular construction with extruded hull sections, including fore and aft rakes, for extra strength and rigidity. The huge fore and aft casting decks conceal massive amounts of storage space.
These boats are built primarily for fishing but can easily be converted to a family boat for a day on the lake or bay. Two folding jump seats on either side of the rear bench seat provide ample and comfortable space for up to 6 people.
The wide decks provide plenty of room if everyone wants to fish. The flared transom lines make water access easy if your day includes water sports.
Each Crestliner 2000 Bay includes a 115-horsepower Mercury EFI 4-stroke engine and a Karavan trailer. The fuel-efficient Mercury 4-stroke engine will get you where you want to go in the shortest possible time. It can also keep your family happy playing on the water with skis, wakeboards, or innertubes.
However, fishing is where the Crestliner 2000 Bay excels, allowing you to safely access Shallowater or venture through the breakers to enjoy deep water fishing close to shore.
Base Price: $36,168
Length: 20 feet 5 inches
Sportsman Masters 207 Bay Boat
By all accounts, the Sportsman Masters 207 Bay Boat handles and drives like a much bigger boat. This bay boat design incorporates a deep v-hull with generous curves that provide a stable and comfortable ride through waves most boats just can’t handle. The construction of these boats means never having to worry about the hull’s integrity, no matter the seas you encounter. These boats are rated for up to 150 horsepower to provide all the get-up-and-go you need.
The Masters 207 also performs like a much bigger boat with plenty of storage space throughout the boat, under gunwale rod racks, 3 separate live wells, and above-average electronics as standard equipment. You also get dual batteries, a swim platform and an LED interior lighting package that makes your batteries last much longer.
The bow casting deck is complete with cushions to make additional seating. Under the bow deck, you will find ample storage, including a convenient bow anchor locker and a molded anchor catch that holds the anchor securely. Each boat is pre-wired for your trolling motor with connections inside the anchor storage hatch. You won’t run out of room, even carrying a maximum of 7 passengers.
Base Price: $48.670
Length: 20 feet 4 inches
Think bowrider with more deck space. That would be a good description of a deck boat. These water generally have longer interior dimensions and are built to maximize deck space. These are recreational boats, without a doubt. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they are sporting or exciting. These designs can also provide the performance you want for all your on-the-water activities.
If your motive for buying a deck boat is to have an on-the-water entertainment location, you won’t do better than the Bayliner DX2200. Bayliner set out to build a family-friendly line of recreational deck boats, and they have accomplished their goals. The sculpted lines of these boats will appeal to your aesthetics, while the wide V-hull and high freeboard provides a safe, comfortable, and dry ride for anyone on board.
Bayliner puts comfort at the top of the list. Each DX2000 includes a wet bar with a sink, prep area, and grocery locker. An enclosed storage area can be outfitted with a portable head to round out the complete day-long entertainment package. This boat has ample lounging room with companion seating and sun pads for enjoying the summer weather on the water.
With the standard 150-horsepower Mercury EFI outboard, these deck boats provide plenty of excitement for any water-related activity. The convenience of the swim platform, boarding ladder and extension make this the perfect way to spend a day in or on the water. The 55-gallon fuel tank will keep you running up and down the lake all day, entertaining your family and friends.
Base Price: $46,700
Length: 21 feet 7 inches
If you want to buy a lake-ready deck boat package, you need to find a Tahoe dealer. First, Tahoe has a No Haggle, No Hassle national pricing policy. You won’t find markups, dealer deals, or hidden charges.
The price you see advertised for these boats is the price you pay. Second, when you pick up your Tahoe deck boat, you only need to put fuel in the tank and back into the water. Tahoe has so many features that other boat builders consider options that the price seems almost incredible.
Consider the refreshment center that includes a wet sink, a five-gallon freshwater tank and a pull-out sprayer. Or the stowable table can be placed either forward or aft, depending on your preference. Massive storage compartments, a dedicated anchor well, a ski pylon, rod holders, and in-hull ski storage make these boats a dream for anyone who wants to entertain on the lake.
The No Hassle No Haggle price includes a custom-fit trailer and a 150-horsepower Mercury Pro X Four Stroke outboard motor. A swim platform at the bow with a boarding ladder pre-installed also serves as a convenient fishing platform. Drawing only 17 inches of water, the Tahoe 2150 lets you fish many spots other deck boats can’t approach.
Length: 21 feet 1 inch
Glastron GTD 200
Glastron is a premier brand for deck boats. You can easily customize a deck boat from Glastron with three different deck configurations to fill your family’s needs and desires.
You can choose from a single console layout, a dual console setup, or configure dual consoles with a full windshield for the best comfort and protection while on the water. Comfort and safety are always a mainstay factor with Glastron boats.
These Glastron boats are meant for a lifetime of enjoyment and recreation. All deck fittings are stainless steel. The lighting is low maintenance and has low-draw LEDs. Each deck boat has a swim platform at the bow and the stern. The helm features digital readout gauges that include a GPS. You will also find a stereo entertainment system that is Bluetooth-compatible.
Glastron rates the GTD 200 for engines up to 200 HP. The 40-gallon onboard fuel capacity can feed the largest motor you select easily. The basic configuration from the factory gives you a 115 Horsepower Mercury EXLPT Four stroke engine. Every Glastron GTD 200 also comes with a custom-fit trailer to make getting your boat to and from the lake an easy haul.
Base Price: $44,047
Length: 20 feet 3 inches
Did you ever wish you could take your patio to the lake? Pontoon boats offer you much the same sort of atmosphere and opportunities. Imagine a large flat deck space that requires only inches of water to float even when fully loaded, with the comforts of your patio onboard for everyone to enjoy. Plus, you don’t have to invest much money to get these features and functionality.
Harris Sunliner 250
Harris builds its Sunliner pontoon boats with one goal in mind. Your family’s safety, enjoyment, and experiences on the lake should be directly related to the quality of the pontoon boat you own. To this end, Harris puts exceptional quality and style into its boats, ensuring that wherever you put your Harris Sunliner 250 into the water, heads will turn, and memories will be made.
If there is ever a pontoon boat that seems like an extension to your home, it is the Harris Sunliner 250. From the pillow-top upholstery on the wraparound seating to the generous amounts of storage throughout the boat, luxury is the takeaway.
These pontoon boats from Harris have a capacity of 15 – 15 persons and are rated for up to 300 horsepower engines. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your pontoon boat can’t be sporty, exciting, and elegant.
Onboard fuel capacity is a generous 37 gallons, allowing you to cruise all day to your favorite spots with plenty of range left over. You can easily beach these pontoons boats as well. Harris pontoon boats typically need only 12 inches of water to float, and the tough aluminum tubes are perfect for easy beaching.
Base Price: $45,446
Length: 25 feet 10 inches
Sun Tracker Sportfish 20 DLX
If fishing is part of your on-the-water experience, Sun Trackers Sport Fish 20 DLX could be just what you need. A pontoon boat set up for fishing can give you more opportunities and a more comprehensive range of fishing options than a specialized bass boat or a bay boat. You can access shallow water in comfort and style that most other styles of boat can’t deliver.
Each Sun Tracker Sport Fish 20 DLX has under-seat stowage for all your fishing and recreational equipment. In addition, vertical rod holders at the rear sit next to a special tackle storage area that keeps your fishing gear neatly organized and easily accessible.
Two fishing seats round out the package to make your fishing trips comfortable. A 16-gallon aerated live well provides ample space for your bait.
When the family is along for the day, the 10-foot powered Bimini top provides shade and protection, and the Bluetooth stereo system keeps them entertained all day. The aft-mounted L-lounger provides plenty of seating. These pontoon boats are rated for a 10-person capacity and can handle engines up to 90 HP.
Base Price: $33,995.00
Length: 21 feet 11 inches
Seadoo Switch Cruise
Seadoo has an amazing reputation for personal watercraft. Few people realize that this company also offers some of the most innovative pontoon boats on the market.
Seadoo provides a rich package of standard features to make these pontoon boats some of the best values on the market. Unlike the other pontoon boats on our list, the Seadoo Cruise is an inboard engine model with a jet drive.
The standard setup on the Seadoo Switch Cruise is a 4-cylinder gasoline engine that powers a Seadoo jet. The rated top speed of the Switch is 34.3 miles per hour which are quite lively for a pontoon boat.
You can invite up to 9 of your best friends and family to enjoy a day on the lake, and with 29 gallons of onboard fuel storage, you won’t be making constant trips back to the gas pump.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of the Seadoo Switch Cruiser is the endless possibilities you can enjoy in arranging the furniture and fittings. The seating can be easily arranged with the quick detach and attach options to customize the layout of your deck to fit your needs. Add the massive amounts of under-deck storage, and you have a versatile and functional boat.
Base Price: $39,599
Length: 21 feet
Bass boats are more of a niche product than any others we have covered in our list. Serious fishermen have a long list of preferences that make bass boats more geared for fishing than recreational boating. However, it is not unknown for a fisherman to occasionally tie on a tow rope and take the family for a spin around the lake for fun.
Professional bass fishermen want a boat that is smaller, faster, and more maneuverable than their competition. Serious weekend fishermen also want the same features. Skeeter delivers on these wants with the ZX150. Log a choice for professional bass fishermen, anyone can enjoy the benefits and features of these bass boats on their favorite lake.
The Skeeter ZX150 is loaded to make your fishing trip successful and pleasurable. A 28-gallon live well with independent fill, recirculating/drain modes and a pump-out feature keeps bait fresher longer.
A 30 qt cooler mounted forward in the deck keeps you and your fishing buddy well-supplied. Each Skeeter bass boat comes complete with a Minn Kota 70 trolling motor and a Hummingbird 70 helix 5 mounted on the dash.
The ZX150 has two lower pedestal seats mounted fore and aft for fishing. You won’t need to worry about anyone beating you to your favorite fishing hole when you crank up the Yamaha V Max VF 150 engine. The onboard 32-gallon fuel tank will keep you fishing all day long without worrying about a trip back to the marina. You can take yourself and 3 of your best fishing buddies without a problem.
Ranger has a long history with bass boats and an enviable record among bass fishermen for producing championship boats. The Ranger Z185 is an almost perfect blend of performance, features, and price available to every bass fisherman. The solid construction, attention to detail, and unmatched performance make Ranger bass boats some of the most competitive craft on the water.
The Ranger Z185 boasts a 96-inch beam making it one of the widest bass boats on the market, giving you more room to fish. Dual rod boxes have gas-assisted lids with triple seals to protect your valuable tackle when it is safely stored.
Ranger features Minn Kota trolling motors on their boats and fits each boat with a recessed trolling motor pedal. The aerated live wells are timed and divided to make tournament fishing hassle-free.
You won’t be late to your fishing hole. The Mercury 150L Pro XS FourStroke engine will have you gliding across the water in seconds. With 33 gallons of fuel on board, fishing all day without a break is a possibility. The four-person capacity of the Ranger Z185 means that you and your buddies can fish to your heart’s content.
Base Price: $42,995
Length: 18 feet 8 inches
Triton 179 TRX
Triton bass boats look like they mean business just sitting on the trailer. Once they are in the water, there is no mistaking that you are at the helm of a thoroughbred. These watercraft are fast and agile without sacrificing stability or safety. If you are worried about a lack of features, put your fears to rest. Triton seems to have thought of everything to support a day of outstanding fishing.
You can expect your Triton 179 TRX to include bucket seats for you and your fishing partner. The aerated live well can circulate up to 800 gallons of water per hour to keep your catch and bait in the best possible condition.
The gunwale and under-deck storage are convenient and ample to protect your valuable fishing gear. Fishing from the Centric II pedestal seats allows you to enjoy hours of rod time comfortably.
The standard engine from the factory is a Mercury 90 horsepower four-stroke outboard. As an option, you can choose the 115-horsepower Mercury ELPT Pro XS four-stroke engine. A Minn Kota 70 trolling motor rounds out the propulsion systems. The included trailer has a spare tire, waterproof lighting, and ratchet trailer tie-downs.
Base Price: $36,995
Length: 18 feet 6 inches