Today's bowriders are cutting edge and versatile. Collected here are reviews, pictures and videos of some of the best bowrider boats for 2014. Be sure to check back often as we will continue to add models as we test them.
Bayliner Element XL
So beyond affordability, what, exactly, are you getting from an Element? Bayliner pressed its engineers to move beyond the traditional bowrider sensibilities and provide an entertainment platform that would allow a family of four to spend a few fun hours together on the water, focusing on seating over storage, simplicity over gadgetry, and comfort over top speed.
Bryant's Calandra offers a big, deep and roomy feel that you rarely find on a boat this size, with the measurements to match. Check out the massive portside head compartment, tucked neatly into the port console. It’s more than 4 feet long and nearly 3 feet wide, and it offers an almost unheard-of 4 feet of headroom.
Boasting racy lines, rock solid construction, high end luxury and one of the most versatile seating configurations available in a bowrider this size, Chaparral’s new 307 SSX is a must see for any boater seeking "open bow" luxury and performance.
Chris-Craft Carina 21
The Chris-Craft Carina 21 is a boat that combines the best of modern construction with the classic appeal of yesteryear.
On the 220, you still get the sweet performance that Cobalt is known for, and you get many big-boat amenities, such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel at the helm with the Cobalt insignia designed to always spin upright.
We tested in stiff chop, but the Cobalt R3 performed like we’ve come to expect of boats from the Neodesha, Kansas, builder. Its well-built deep-V hull, with 21 degrees of transom deadrise, sliced through the chop with nary a rattle or shudder.
While still in its slip on test day, the Cobalt R5WSS turned the most heads at the marina. Passersby couldn’t help but gawk at its vibrant graphics package (our test model had a red-and-black gelcoat combination) and striking sports tower.
After our day on the lake aboard Ebbtide’s 2460 DC Fun Cruiser, we can say that this boat planed fast and came up flat: We never lost visibility forward. Structurally, this hull is laminated with hand-laid, knitted fabrics, Kevlar, and high-tech coring materials for sound deadening, stiffness and a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Boaters seeking plenty of amenities, rough-water ability, superior corrosion resistance and shallow-water wherewithal should check out the EdgeWater 205CX. It’s self-bailing and unsinkable too, and so it comes with a peace of mind many boaters crave.
The 270 BR may be one of the smallest models in the Formula line, but it shares high-quality, high-performance DNA with its fleet mates. That mirror finish on the hull is Imron paint, not gelcoat. Ditto for the striping, which won’t peel in hot climates like decal striping can.
The 26-foot-6-inch Four Winns S 265 is the newest and the longest and combines the smooth lines and confident handling of a runabout with a low-overhead cabin that’s good for napping, pediatric shade or just stashing stuff.
The advantages of this boat’s closed bow include the shade and privacy of the cabin, plus better wind protection and more rakish lines than those seen on the standard bowrider. Filler cushions cover the cabin footwell and create a berth that’s a perfect nap spot for sun-baked kids. An optional port-a-potty ($180) slides out from a well extending under the deck, which also displaces a ski locker. Headroom is 48 inches, and a large hatch and smoked plexiglass panel allow plenty of light and air belowdecks.
The triumph of Lowe’s Victory 220 is masterful mating of a sturdy, light and nimble aluminum hull to a sleek and spacious fiberglass deck. With its raked windshield protecting the cockpit and the Monster wakeboard tower tempting riders, this boat reaches far into the turf of top sport-boat builders.
A handsome, open-bow runabout with lots to offer for a modest price, the Monterey 186MS has a clean layout, a low-maintenance fiberglass cockpit sole, a handy transom walk-through and a substantial sun pad.
Monterey's 268SS is fully equipped with a spacious head, a Jensen audio system, an available anchor windlass, an easily accessible battery switch and a curved-leg table mounted to the lounge base so there’s no danger of toe-stubbing, and there are no holes drilled in the sole. Plentiful grab rails keep crew secure.
Moomba’s all-new Mondo takes many of its cues from the popular Mojo 2.5, but at 2 feet shorter, it’s in a completely different size class that’s friendlier to size-restricted waterways, smaller tow vehicles and garage storage.
There is little mystery as to why NauticStar’s 243 DC delivered a solid, confidence-inspiring ride during our test. The 243 DC is built with a one-piece molded stringer grid, bonded to the hull with a special adhesive from Plexus. This is a great family boat for tubing, touring or partying in a cove.
LOA: 19'10" Beam: 8'3" Draft (max): 2'7" Displacement: 3,100 lb. Transom Deadrise: 22 degrees Fuel Capacity: 35 gal. Max Horsepower: 225 Available Power: MerCruiser and Volvo Penta gasoline sterndrives to 225 hp More Information:regalboats.com
To say Regal’s 2500 is a dream to drive would be almost selling the boat short. On the water, it handles beautifully, smoothly rolling into the tightest of corners without a hint of bucking or the prop losing its grip.
LOA: 18'10" Beam: 8'0" Draft (max): 1'0" Displacement (approx.): 2,600 lb. Transom Deadrise: 20 degrees Bridge Clearance: 7'0" Fuel Capacity: 31 gal. Max Horsepower: 250 Available Power: Single Rotax jet engine to 250 hp More Information:scarabboats.com
Sea Ray 350 SLX
Sea Ray's 350 SLX is a super luxurious, extra-large bowrider offering a style that's tough to match. High performing, it will provide a safe, yet thrilling open water ride. But it's just as perfect for quiet sunset cruises along the shoreline.
Splendor is typically conservative in colors and graphics, but the 239 SunStar that showed up for our test sported black hull sides with an in-your-face lime green accent color. Look below the bond line — basically the rub rail, where the hull and deck come together — and you may discover another surprise.
Like many bowriders in this size range, the Limited 1918 is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, ready to leisurely cruise one minute, ski and wakeboard the next. As such, its layout is designed to please a variety of masters.
The 210 SCX OB’s bow cockpit is deeper and roomier than the norm. One way Starcraft creates such usable space is by mimicking the design of a pickle fork, keeping the hull lines extending forward into twin tines.
Stingray’s 198LX carries on the brand’s tradition of getting more speed out of less horsepower. With a powerful MerCruiser 4.3 engine, our test boat peaked at an impressive 58.2 mph, planed in three seconds flat, and reached 30 mph in 7.4 seconds.
Supra’s SC450 builds off the success of its line-revamping SA model, a wide-bow board sports monster released last year to much acclaim. The two share many of the same standard features, with the main difference being a more traditional, pointed bow in the SC. The SC’s bow retains much of its sister ship’s deep, functional seating, but bow dip potential is almost completely nonexistent in the SC, no matter how much you weight it. The Roswell Pro Edge tower presides stoically over the lounge in speaker-hanging, board-storing glory.