Best Runabout Boats of 2017

Here are some of the best runabout boats available for 2017.

The runabout is still a staple of the American boating family, although now they come in many more shapes and sizes. Be it a 16-footer or a 30-footer, the mission is still the same. That holds true whether it’s powered via outboards, sterndrives or even jet engines. These selections we present to you are some of the best runabout boats for 2017.

Bayliner Element E21 Review
Bayliner Element E21Bayliner Boats

Bayliner Element E21

The new Element E21 is a fresh expression of the Bayliner mission: create boats that are affordable to buy and easy to own. Priced as low as $25,500, the 20-foot-8-inch E21 is a wide-open, dual-console deck boat that in its base configuration has no windshield — a glass windshield is a $1,271 option.

Formula 310 BR Review
Formula 310 BRFormula

Formula 310 BR

Formula’s boats have always been solid and satisfying, and the 310 BR, the company’s flagship bowrider, continues that tradition. Twin MerCruiser 6.2L 300 hp V-8s fitted with Bravo Three drives provided a 51 mph top speed, with zero to 30 mph acceleration in a hair over seven seconds.

Four Winns HD 220 OB
Four Winns HD 220 OBFour Winns

Four Winns HD 220 OB

The new Four Winns HD 220 OB has a trunk for your junk. When the Michigan boatbuilder converted its 22-foot HD 220 from sterndrive to outboard power, it was left with an empty space where the engine used to be. After considering a number of options, Four Winns decided to simply throw down a floor and let the owner figure out how to best use a space bigger than the trunk of a Buick Electra.

Glastron GT-180 Review
Glastron GT-180Glastron

Glastron GT-180

The Glastron GT-180 entry-level bowrider can be described in one word: fun. It might be entry-level due to its size and attractive price, but in a world filled with bowriders, this is one that stands out for finish, quality construction and, yes, because it’s just plain fun.

Jeanneau New Concept 795 Review
Jeanneau New Concept 795Jeanneau America

Jeanneau New Concept 795

The Jeanneau New Concept 795 is a French import that introduces the notion of the “pocket cruiser” to North American waters and, indeed, to North American boaters. This is an immensely popular European-style boat because it does a number of things surprisingly well.

Monterey M45 Review
Monterey M45Monterey Boats

Monterey M45

During our test run, the Monterey M45 was quick to plane, fearless in turns and rewarding in top speed. And quiet? No wonder outboards are gaining ground among runabout enthusiasts.

Princecraft Ventura 220 WS Review
Princecraft Ventura 220 WSPrincecraft Boats

Princecraft Ventura 220 WS

One of the few aluminum deck boats, the Ventura 220 WS features sleek lines, seating for 12 and a contoured wraparound windshield. Swing open the windshield walk-through to access the inviting loungers in the bowrider area.

Scarab 195 Open Review
Scarab 195 OpenScarab Jet Boats

Scarab 195 Open

The Scarab 195 Open has a center console steering station, and it’s water-jet-powered. These two features combine to help make this new boat a sport utility for the water: wakeboard, dive, fish, water-ski, tube and just have fun with your family.

Sea-Doo Spark TRIXX Review
Sea-Doo Spark TRIXXSea-Doo

Sea-Doo Spark TRIXX

With its light weight and playful hull, Sea-Doo’s Spark is a natural trickster. The new Trixx model boosts that freestyle orientation with a few modifications to showcase the boat’s full potential. The highlight is Sea-Doo’s variable electric trim, retooled for the Trixx to more than double the directional nozzle’s range of motion.

Starcraft MDX 191 OB Review
Starcraft MDX 191 OBBill Doster

Starcraft MDX 191 OB

The MDX 191 outboard from Starcraft is a family craft that’s also light on the checkbook. It’s a well-mannered boat that’s easy to trailer, launch, start and pilot — great for newbies as well as seasoned salts. With its low freeboard, boarding and debarking are no hassle for the family either. The styling is sweet and sleek, with a curvaceous foredeck that cheats the wind.

Starcraft MDX 201 EIO Review
Starcraft MDX 201 EIOBill Doster

Starcraft MDX 201 EIO

Starcraft hasn’t forgotten the original appeal of deck boats. The MDX 201 EIO’s family-friendly open design encourages socializing in the cockpit, but it retains the handling attributes of a V-hull below.

Starcraft MDX 201 IO Review
Starcraft MDX 201 IOBill Doster

Starcraft MDX 201 IO

Starcraft put together a genuine “family truckster” of a rig in this MDX 201 IO deck boat, without the geeky looks of the Griswolds’ ride. To the contrary, the MDX 201 has sleek and incredibly sporty lines that are not normally associated with a family platform. Its performance reflected its style.

Starcraft MDX 211 E OB Review
Starcraft MDX 211 E OBBill Doster

Starcraft MDX 211 E OB

The appeal of a deck boat, such as the Starcraft MDX 211 E OB we tested, resides in the unfettered space provided by a minimalist helm, a broad bow and clever seating, combined with unparalleled boarding and water access that fore ’n’ aft swim platforms with ladders provide.

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXT Review
Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXTBill Doster

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXT

Starcraft’s SCX 210 is a cool family craft with an aggressive look and a nice turn of speed. Our tester, fitted with Yamaha’s lightweight, four-cylinder F200 XB four-stroke outboard and 14.5-inch-by-17-inch stainless-steel Yamaha propeller, turned in a 48 mph top speed and a most economical cruising speed of 22.4 mph at 3,500 rpm, where we achieved 4.8 mpg.

Stingray 186 CC Review
Stingray 186 CCStingray Boats

Stingray 186 CC

The 186 CC is built to cruise, with comfortable beam-to-beam seating at the stern. All the cushions stow away, converting these areas into casting decks — all except for the folding jump seats at the stern. This arrangement means there is still seating for five (two astern, two at the helm and one forward) while rigged for fishing.

Yamaha 212X Review
Yamaha 212XYamaha

Yamaha 212X

The letter X is legendary in American lore. Planes like X-15, autos like the XKE, and even rockets like SpaceX bear “X” in their name. It denotes special designs, skunkworks performance and mystique. Yamaha’s 212X follows that trend.

Yamaha AR 210 Review
Yamaha AR 210Yamaha

Yamaha AR 210

Look closely at the Yamaha AR 210. Compare it to any performance runabout you wish. We did when we tested it at Yamaha’s press introduction on Lake Oconee in Georgia.

Yamaha EX Series Review
Yamaha EX SeriesYamaha

Yamaha EX Series

Yamaha’s EX Series Waverunners are designed to give personal-watercraft fans the best return on investment possible in both performance and long-lasting good looks. After spending a day on the water with all three trim-level models, we agree.

Yamaha GP1800 Review
Yamaha GP1800Yamaha

Yamaha GP1800

When we climbed aboard the GP1800, we’d already learned it was the new PWC of choice for the racing circuit and for technical advisers like Brian Baldwin. So when we pulled the throttle trigger on the stock GP1800 and hit over 70 mph, we weren’t surprised. But the dizzy feeling in our belly as the boat accelerated to top speed blew us away.

Yamaha SX 195 Review
Yamaha SX 195Yamaha

Yamaha SX 195

Even though the SX 195 is an entry point into the Yamaha jet-boat line, it includes “cruise assist,” an automated speed control that activates at any speed at the touch of a button. Once it’s switched on, speed can be adjusted up or down in small increments by tapping the button.