Please come back tomorrow and vote again
The new Bayliner Element is a radical boat with a radical price point: $11,999 for the base boat, engine and a trailer.
Bayliner is the undisputed king of “gateway” boats; for decades the company has built entry-level runabouts that see duty as the first boat a family buys, loves and uses before presumably moving on to bigger and better. But as sales of the once ubiquitous 16- to 19-foot family bowrider have fallen, the question plaguing most builders has been: How do we get new people interested in boating? With a radical new boat called the Element, Bayliner may have the answer.
Pulling no punches, the 16-foot Element is a simple boat designed to take the sticker shock out of buying a new fiberglass model — so that a family interested in (literally) testing the waters can do so without blowing the bank. Normally, I’d start a review talking about design, comfort and ride and deal with pricing later, but in this case the pricing is the driver — Bayliner is offering a boat, engine and trailer package with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of around $12,000. For financing, Bayliner offers potential buyers a plan that requires zero money down and monthly payments of $150 (based on a 120-month loan at 5.4 percent interest), on par with a cable or cell phone bill. These price points could almost make the Element an impulse buy.
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.
The comfort idea starts below the waterline. Bayliner eschewed the traditional bowrider’s moderate-V hull for an “M” design, which resembles at first glance the cathedral-style hulls made famous by Boston Whaler. But it is more like a trimaran, with the V running down the centerline and two V-shape sponsons outboard with hard chines. Instead of tapering flat aft, as on many cathedral hulls, the sponsons maintain their V all the way to the stern. Bayliner claims this improves stability at rest and minimizes lean in turns — traits its research shows intimidate first-time boaters.