2024 Boat Buyers Guide

2024 Boat Buyers Guide

Welcome to the 2024 Boat Buyers Guide by Boating! Each year, our team curates this guide to assist you in your quest for your next (or inaugural) boat purchase. Understanding a boat’s performance is crucial, instilling confidence in buyers whether they’re at a boat show or exploring options at a dealer’s showroom.

Explore our editorial experts’ reviews as they delve into boats, showcasing their most significant and impressive features. Additionally, gain a quick insight into each boat’s performance data.

This year, we present our most extensive Boat Buyer’s Guide yet, featuring over 70 boats that stand as the ultimate choices. Don’t miss out—dive in and discover!

This Year's presenting Sponsor:

Boating editors rate as a top source for this information. Our tech team of professionals boasts a combined two centuries of assessing boats and creating reports about them for a living. We eat, sleep and drink boats. We also run more boats—and a wider variety of boats—than anyone else.

So, what does this experience and dedication do for you?

  • One, it provides you with performance tests you can trust.
  • Second, you get insightful commentary that can only come from professionals who can view a given boat through three lenses: what it is in itself, how it compares to other similar boats, and where it fits in the universe of all boats.
  • Third, with the compilation of this annual Boat Buyers Guide, our team of staffers and contributors gives you a means to compare a number of boats of the same type.

Featured Video & Articles

Boat buyers have been relying on Boating’s boat tests since 1956. Crafted by a team of editors, themselves boat owners, each with decades of experience on the water testing boats, Boating boat tests and video walkthrough reviews provide the best and most trusted information available.

News from our sponsor:

Must-See Engines at the 2024 Miami International Boat Show
Learn more about some of the most innovative engines on display this year.
Volvo Penta and Sanlorenzo Yachts Team-Up to Advance Decarbonization at Sea
Superyacht builder to integrate Volvo Penta’s IPS Professional Platform.
MPI Awards 2023
These marine propulsion manufacturers proved tops in 2023.

In-Depth Reviews & Boat Tests by Type

Boating’s Tech Team of editors tests more than 100 boats per year. As such, they are the most experienced boat testers in the world, delivering boat buyers depth, scope, and insight not available from lesser, “boat reviewers.”

Search by boat type and enjoy the full reviews for:

Runabout Boats

Runabouts prove excellent boats aboard which to set out for a few hours on the water watching the sunset, joining the Friday lake parade, pulling a tube, or hitting a waterside restaurant. While other boat types afford much of those same opportunities, a runabout will carry you on such adventures with an emphasis on style and luxury. For all that, a few makers offer small, basic runabouts for boaters on a budget. Larger sizes, say over about 30 feet LOA, are often called “dayboats” nowadays.

Tiara Yachts 48 LE cruising
Formula 290 Bowrider running on the lake
Crownline 280 CRX running
Chaparral 267 SSX running
Yamaha 252SD running
Scarab Jet 235 Open ID on the water
Zodiac Medline 5.8 cruising
Scarab Jet 195 ID on the lake
Yamaha VX Cruiser HO cruising
Sea-Doo RXP-X 325 rocketing across the water
Taiga Orca Performance running
Sea-Doo Spark Trixx cruising

Watersports Boats

Watersports boats create wakes and waves so that you and your crew can enjoy, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and foiling.The boats best at this currently feature single V-drive inboard power. That said, boats that utilize forward facing sterndrives now deliver quite a good wakesurfing experience for boaters seeking to wakesurf in addition to other activities. Watersports boats come with special features, like towers, ballast systems and wave-shaping foils and tabs.

Centurion Fe22 wakesurfing
Aviara AV28S cruising
Montara Surf Boss 2.0 cruising
Centurion Ri265 running smoothly
MasterCraft XT25 on a glassy lake
Axis A245 running
Moomba Makai on a lake
Malibu M242 on a glassy lake
Supreme S240 running fast
Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV running smoothly
Anthem Kalon 23 pushing a wake
Centurion Ri230 running near shore
Malibu 23 MXZ running fast
MasterCraft NXT23 on the lake
Supra SA running fast
Supreme S220 running across a lake
Starcraft MVX 230 Surf on the lake

Pontoon Boats

Seeking a boat with the ability to carry the most people, in the most comfort, for any given length? Buy a pontoon boat. Fitted with two or three, “logs,” or, “toons,” as the pontoons on which they ride are often called, these boats deliver high carrying capacity. The rectangular layout affords room for couches and lounges and just plain room to move around, that other boat types cannot offer at the same length. Most pontoon boats boast outboard power, with some multi-engine models capable of high speeds. Still, simple, modestly powered (and priced) pontoons are available from just about every builder. Still, again, many pontoons now come fitted-out with luxury, rivaling some runabouts in this regard.

Harris Crowne 250 on the beach
Avalon Excalibur LTD cruising wide open
Tahoe 2785 Grand Tahoe QLW out for a ride
Manitou Explore 24 MAX running fast
Viaggio Diamante 26U running fast
Bennington 27Q Fastback cruising smoothly
Montara Naxos on the lake
Sylvan G5 CLZ DC cruising leisurely
Vanderbilt 500S running
Harris Cruiser 250 running
Crest Caribbean Platinum 250 SLS running easy
G3 SunCatcher Elite 326 SE running on a lake
Viaggio Lago Z 24S cruising on the lake
Nepallo 24QL-ST leisurely cruising
Starcraft RX 23 R DC on the water
SunChaser Calais 23 LR DH running
Tahoe 2585 Cascade running
Bennington 23 RX Sport Swingback out for a cruise
Manitou Explore 24 running
Princecraft Vectra 23 RL running
Bennington 20 SF-SPS cruising
Bennington 22 SVSB-SPS cruising

Fishing Boats

Boating provides boat buyers with tests and walkthrough videos of all kinds of fishing boats. Whether shopping for a boat to catch bigmouths among the lily pads, or to chase offshore gamefish, or for any fishing-specific reason in between. Fishing boats may be made from fiberglass or aluminum, and most are outboard powered (larger, inboard-powered sportfisherman excepted). Renown for rugged construction and seaworthiness, many fishing boats now combine luxury with angling features. These allow boat buyers to use them as runabouts or dayboats one day, and fishing vessels the next.

Intrepid 51 Panacea offshore
Pursuit OS 405 Offshore overhead
Grady-White Canyon 386 at sunset
Scout 357 LXF running near shore
Cobia 350 CC offshore
Invincible 33 Catamaran offshore
NauticStar 274 Bay on the bay
Pursuit DC 306 cruising offshore
Grady-White Canyon 306 cruising bluewater
American Marine Sports Blackwood 290 Open running on the river
Regulator 26XO offshore
Stingray 253 CC on the river
Yamaha 255 FSH Sport H cruising
Finseeker 240 DC running
Finseeker 245 WA out cruising
Starcraft SVX 231 OB CC running
Bass Cat Jaguar STS running fast
Yar-Craft 210 TFX running smoothly
Bass Cat Caracal STS running fast
G3 Boats Sportsman 1710 PFX out on the water
Alumacraft Competitor FSX 175 Sport on a glassy lake
G3 Boats Angler V178 F cruising
Princecraft Sport 175 turning on a lake

More Boat Buying Resources

A boat purchase goes beyond just numbers on a performance chart. While you certainly want to pick the right boat for your boating style and location, consideration of dealer networks, financing options, the associated gear and electronics, and how to operate it safely also plays a part. Combine these resources with our tests to maximize your boat buying knowledge.

Boating has several guides geared towards helping you know what to look for when shopping for a boat.

Choosing the right dealer, getting financed and shopping smart all make for a better boat buying experience.

Safety and seamanship play into your intended use for a boat, and thus are considerations for what boat to buy.