At less than $25,000, Baja's 20 Outlaw gets you in the go-fast game without suffering a sticker-shock coronary. And it doesn't skimp on the essentials to do it. This boat has the familiar low-profile deck, flat transom, and many of the same components you'll find on larger Outlaws. Racing-style bucket seats, power steering, and a brushed aluminum Dino wheel complete with leathery grip are all here. What's more, it shares construction features with the big dogs. The marine plywood in the transom is the same thickness as what you'd find in the 40 Outlaw.
The 20 Outlaw is built for running at top speed-it seems to come alive when it's up and going on its keelpad. Powered by a standard 260-hp 5.0L MerCruiser MPI, our test boat hit 59.7 mph as it danced across a windswept Sarasota Bay. Go ahead, fling the wheel-this boat corners precisely. But don't worry: It's exciting enough on the high end to give you that running-the-racecourse feel.
To be honest, you simply have to drive the 20 Outlaw at top speed to appreciate it. Don't expect a skiboat's holeshot, though. Like most high-performance boats, this baby climbs, rather than leaps, to plane. It took us seven seconds to hit 30 mph. Chicks dig speed (or so we keep telling ourselves), so just keep it moving.
Baja opted to incorporate a slightly shallower 21-degree transom deadrise on the 20 Outlaw, a nod to boaters' desire to go at top speed. Still, it slices through chop admirably, and the hull's end-grain balsa core construction provides a solid feel upon reentry. Although Baja has made a name for itself with its interlocking plywood stringer grid, the 20 Outlaw's backbone is an integrated fiberglass floor and stringer matrix. This departure is designed to trim weight while maintaining structural integrity.
High Points: There's more than 7' of stowage under the foredeck. Race-style seats are nicely bolstered for support. The hull-to-deck joint is affixed with Plexus, then screwed every 6". Optional extended swim platform is functional without detracting from its go-fast lines.
Low Points: The hull tends to pitch up and down while underway. Optional trim tabs might help settle things down. You may long for drive trim on the control handle, in lieu of the standard dash-mounted switch on our test boat. Sole of the bow stowage area is finished gel coat, but it's basically one big open space. Dividers or tiedowns would keep gear from flying. Same goes for the engine compartment.
Toughest Competitor: At $31,190 with a base 260-hp 5.0L MerCruiser package, Stingray's 220SX also lets you play raceboat without dropping serious coin. Its notoriously fast Z-Plane hull design has inverse, rather than protruding, strakes in addition to a drag-reducing transom notch. Both translate into a 60-mph top speed with the base engine and 70 mph when you max out the power. At 21'6", the Stingray is longer and uses the space to add amenities. Under the bow is a V-berth, sink, Porta Potti, and butane stove.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)........2,900
Minimum cockpit depth........2'8"
Fuel capacity (gal.)........47
Price (w/standard power)........$24,995
Price (w/test power)........$24,995
Standard power Single 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI gasoline stern drive.
Optional power None.
Test boat power: Single 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI Alpha V-8 gasoline stern drive with 305 cid, 3.74" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging a 13 ¾" x 21" three-blade Vengeance ss prop through a 1.66:1 reduction.
Standard equipment (major items) Full fiberglass cockpit liner; Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo w/2 speakers; 4 ss pop-up cleats; auto. bilge pump; power steering; hourmeter; 12v receptacle; anchor holder w/strap; 2-color gel coat.