Best Runabout Boats of 2015

Reviews, pictures and videos of some of the best runabout boats for 2015.

Runabouts are good at a variety of boating tasks, and provide loads of fun for family and friends. They encompass a wide range of models from deckboats and bowriders to PWCs. Check out some of the best runabout boats available for 2015.Bill Doster Photography LLC
Bayliner Element XR7

Bayliner Element XR7

Bayliner struck gold with its 2013 launch of the Element, an economical, spacious and practical runabout that appeals to first-time boaters. Last year Bayliner came out with the XL version, which upped the standard horsepower from 60 to 90 and the length overall from 16 feet to 18 feet. Now, the company is applying the Element’s signature M-Hull to a whole new concept, the new Element XR7 — a fiberglass boat with the space and stability of a pontoon boat. Bayliner Element XR7 Review
Bryant 233X Surf Edition

Bryant 233X Surf Edition

The Bryant 223X Surf Edition brings wakesurfing to the sterndrive market with a package of features to enhance wake shape and keep the surfer an acceptable distance away from the propellers. The Surf Edition package includes built-in ballast bags, which can hold up to 1,700 pounds of water, and shaped Surftabs. Both ballast and tabs are controlled from the helm to fine-tune wake size and shape. Bryant 223X Surf Edition Review
Inside, the 243 VRX's cockpit embodies everything for which Chaparral’s luxury brand name is known. Families will embrace the generously sized enclosed head. Full wraparound seating makes the vessel a group entertainer. The helm companion bench’s seat back flips forward, creating a full-cockpit wraparound lounge. Chaparral 243 VRX Review
Chaparral 307 SSX

Chaparral 307 SSX

While everyone could use a bigger boat, the concept of “bigger is always better” did not always apply unilaterally. While some boaters moving up from the family bowrider to a pocket cruiser, sedan or express have aspirations to boat overnight, many boaters really just want a much bigger version of an open bow boat to use during the day. Hence we see the most welcome development of the day boat, like the 307 SSX 50th Anniversary Edition I tested, executed to the highest degree by Chaparral Boats. Chaparral 307 SSX Review
Cobalt 200S

Cobalt 200S

The 200 may be the smallest bowrider in Cobalt’s lineup, but by no means should you underestimate it. Call it the younger brother syndrome: It’s always the littlest sibling that sets out to prove it can hang with the rest of the clan. The 200 — and in particular the 200S version we tested — has all of the same fit and finish and many of the same amenities as the bigger Cobalts. Cobalt 200S Review & Video
Cobalt R3WSS

Cobalt R3WSS

The single best adjective you could use to describe the R3WSS is athletic. The boat has a sleek yet muscular profile and aggressive styling that help convert a traditional runabout into a rad tow-sports platform. Like Cobalt’s R5 and R7, the R3WSS can handle its enhanced towing duties with grace. Cobalt R3WSS Review & Video
Formula 330 CBR

Formula 330 CBR

When you step onto a Formula there’s an expectation of crisp lines, precise attention to luxury and comfort, and performance that comes from a company steeped in hot-boat heritage. Formula’s 330 CBR (Crossover Bowrider) boasts all that in a new genre of design that helps define the category of luxury day boat, whether it be for Lake of the Ozarks or Long Island Sound. Formula 330 CBR Review & Video
Glastron GT207

Glastron GT207

The latest, largest jet-powered boat from Glastron, the GT207 is a bigger, beefier version of the GT187, which has proved popular with boaters and underlines Glastron’s focus on offering affordable jet-powered watercraft. Glastron GT207 Review
Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX

Big, perfectly shaped wakes are the calling card of Malibu’s newly redesigned Wakesetter 22 VLX. Featuring a hull designed around the wake and surf crowd, the VLX complements its running surface with a trio of wake-boosting features. Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX Review & Video
With so much action in the boat’s wake, it’s a given that passenger attention is frequently focused aft. The X46’s pickle-fork bow creates a roomy cockpit with sculpted backrests forward that beg occupants to stretch out and face the wake. In the more-the-merrier main cockpit, a gull-wing observer seat extends into a bench that ultimately spans nearly the entire cockpit perimeter. MasterCraft X46 Review
NauticStar 231 Angler

NauticStar 231 Angler

NauticStar pitches the 231 Angler as a craft that will change the way you boat. It certainly offers features to satisfy a variety of masters. Anglers will appreciate the generous 3-foot-6-inch-deep bow casting deck, covered in nonskid. Step into the bow cockpit, remove the seat cushions, and you’ve got a secondary casting deck. Three separate insulated coolers/fish boxes are found below. NauticStar 231 Angler Review
Scarab 165 HO Impulse

Scarab 165 HO Impulse

Whew! What a ride. The mightiest model in the shortest of the new Scarab jet-boat fleet for 2015, the 250 hp 165 HO Impulse proved nimble enough to turn practically in its own length — at wide-open throttle. That the boat offers ample stowage space and a capacity for five passengers is as remarkable as the driving experience enjoyed from its wide-open cockpit. Scarab 165 HO Impulse Review
Scarab 215 HO Impulse

Scarab 215 HO Impulse

The Scarab 215 HO Impulse is a downright thrill to drive. Built to take advantage of the Rotax/Bombardier partnership and the availability of 4-TEC 1503 jet engines, the venerable Scarab was resurrected as a line of brand-new jet boats. Scarab 215 HO Impulse Review
Sea Ray’s 19 SPX breaks from the brand’s traditional bowrider mold. You see it immediately in the edgier curves and molded style lines gracing the hull, but the bow profile showcases the most functional change. Instead of curving to a point, the deck line sweeps gently around the bow in a rounded arc. Sea Ray 19 SPX Review
Sea Ray 350 SLX

Sea Ray 350 SLX

The Sea Ray 350 SLX rides as great as it entertains, thanks to its Axius propulsion and the exclusive Dynamic Running Surface. We took this boat outside the inlet and it handled the mild swell and all the chop and wakes we could find with ease. The twin 300 hp MerCruiser sterndrives pushed us to a top speed over 47 mph, while proving secure and predictable during turns at speed (30 mph). Sea Ray 350 SLX Review
Sea-Doo Spark

Sea-Doo Spark

Starting at $4,999, the two-passenger Sea-Doo Spark is the least expensive personal watercraft on the market. The Spark’s hull and deck are molded from a durable, lightweight composite dubbed Polytec, a mix of polypropylene with long-strand glass fibers. Polytec features a matte finish, a look Sea-Doo plays up with a choice of five colors, including orange crush (orange), bubble gum (magenta) and pineapple (yellow) along with a classic black and white. Sea-Doo Spark Review & Video
Splendor 220 Odyssey I/O

Splendor 220 Odyssey I/O

The new Splendor 220 Odyssey I/O stands as one of the most uncommon deck boats on the market today. Powered by a single 260 hp MerCruiser SeaCore-equipped 5.0-liter MPI V-8 with a Bravo Three drive in Splendor’s specially engineered center pod, this catamaran hull banks inwardly into turns like a V-hull at speed. The same design rides very smoothly in choppy water. Splendor 220 Odyssey I/O Review & Video
Starcraft SCX 230 I/O

Starcraft SCX 230 I/O

With the roominess inherent in its pickle-fork-influenced bow, the tow potential offered by its forward-swept water-sports arch, and the family-friendly confines of an ultra-deep and secure cockpit, the SCX 230 I/O will satisfy a wide variety of masters. That pickle-fork style provides the real estate for a clever bow area. Twin lounges are status quo, but pop out the middle filler cushion and add the pedestal table, and you’ve got unique, conversation-friendly “four corners” seating. Starcraft SCX 230 I/O Review & Video
Starcraft SCX 231 OB EXT

Starcraft SCX 231 OB EXT

A stylish cross between a runabout and a deck boat, Starcraft’s SCX 231 OB EXT best utilizes a pickle-fork-style bow to make its forward cockpit hospitable for adults, not just pint-size kids. Parallel lounges resemble those of the traditional bowrider, with room to stretch your legs, but if you pop out the middle filler cushion, two seats become four. Starcraft SCX 231 OB EXT Review & Video
Stingray 192SC

Stingray 192SC

Applying the deck boat concept — meant to maximize interior lounging space — to a 20-foot runabout hull is not the easiest of engineering feats. But Stingray does it, and the new 192SC proves it does it very well. Stingray 192SC Review
The Stingray 212SC stands out as a trailerable deck boat with smart use of space. Take a look at the oversize swim steps to either side of the engine. Outboard power typically makes for a major compromise in aft water access, but the 212SC’s steps are plenty large. Stingray 212SC Review
Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO

Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO

Yamaha’s FX Cruiser SVHO features the new RiDE system with dual throttles. The right-hand throttle functions as you’d expect and the left-hand throttle deploys the reverse bucket to back away at the ramp or rapidly decelerate out on the water. There’s no shifting or clicking of gears. RiDE remains at the ready, keeping your attention focused on the water while backing in tight confines or overriding the input of the throttle to supply stopping power when needed. Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO Review & Video
Yamaha 242 Limited S

Yamaha 242 Limited S

Yamaha struts its technological prowess in 2015 with the debut of the newly designed 242 Limited S. This boat features unique advancements in every area, from performance to amenities. Yamaha 242 Limited S Review & Video