Simple and affordable outboard-powered bowriders are back in style, with Starcraft’s 172 OB Sport a prime example. With seating for eight passengers split between the bow cockpit, twin captain’s chairs and an aft bench, the entire family can spend a day on the water. We expected a kiddie-size bow; what we found was room for a pair of adults to stretch out. Likewise, full-back cushions offer notch-above comfort compared with some price-point model’s money-saving strips.
Stowage below the aft bench is open, covered by a snap-in vinyl curtain. Netted pockets are featured in each in-wale, and the port console glove box includes the requisite MP3 jack. An in-floor ski locker is ready and waiting for water toys, with protective rubber matting to keep them safe.
Buyers in this price range might be looking for a bargain, but they still demand well-rounded performance. Matched to an economical Evinrude 90 E-TEC, our test boat planed in 3.8 seconds en route to a top speed of 36.8 mph. Option up to the max 130 hp engine, or consider lowering the prop pitch for more low-end punch. Handling was nimble and spirited like you would expect on a 16-foot-9-inch boat, giving the 172 a fun-loving appeal.
-Standard JBL radio comes with MP3 port.
-Generous in-floor ski locker swallows toys.
-Opt for the fish package to add rod holders, fishing seats and a livewell.