In Boating's boat tests, when using the tough competitor portion of the review, are you comparing quality or just same length and price?
We try to pick the boat that we feel is the most comparable one in the market to the test boat. All things are considered: quality, size, price, power, layout.
The selection process is more subtle than it might appear. For instance we might start with Acme boats and Apex boats both being of equivalent quality. So you look at the Apex line if boats, and then you discover that they offer a 23 and a 26, but the test boat is a 25.
Conversely, you might say, "well, this is a big widely distributed brand so lets look at another widely distributed brand,"--- only to find out that while price and size are comparable, we don't feel design and/or construction compare.
Then too, you might find that a major player with a lot of resources can build at a certain quality level for a lower price than smaller independent builders. So the boats may be comparable on all counts--except price.
Then you have the "no expenses spared" top-of the line models from the top builders. For these boats, there often is no direct comparison.
I could go on. But suffice to say we use our judgement, running boats and touring plants every week year in and year out to make the best decision on what's the most comparable boat.
Ya ever hear the one about "work?" It goes like this: "There's good work, fast work, and cheap work. You can get any two of them, but never all three."
Selecting a comparison boat for a national audience is kinda like that. And of course it doesn't take one of the most important boat buying elements into consideration: The ability, or lack of ability, of the local dealer to service a boat. Makes a big difference in OWNING the boat, as to BUYING the boat.