Great Bowriders Under $30,000

Sizing up the under-$30K bowriders.

Bayliner 195

Bayliner 195

Bayliner 195 Breaking It Down
Bayliner wrote the book on value runabouts two generations ago. Since then, its sub-20 models have gone through several components and design makeovers. The 195 hits a sweet spot that straddles the hard-to-balance line of affordability and quality. So, while there might not be a swarm of hatches with gas-assist struts, we weren't alarmed by a bunch of lightweight plastic latches either. Reaching nearly 50 mph and falling onto plane in little more than three seconds with a 4.3-liter motor are positives we can live with. High Points
The MP3 jack and head unit for the stereo system are tucked into the glove box to protect them from elements and thieves. Gauges are incorporated into pods across the instrument panel, giving them a nice look and protecting them from glare. The swim platform is long and wide — not typical of a 19-footer. Low Points
Some of the seat-pad and other storage hatches do not have hinges, making access a bit more cumbersome. The big sun pad is a nice piece of real estate for those who use it, but for those who don’t, it just takes up space elsewhere — namely, in the cockpit.
Bayliner Boats
Bayliner 195

Bayliner 195

Specs
LOA: 19' Beam: 7'11" Dry Weight: 3,020 lb. Max. Horsepower: 260 Fuel Capacity (gal.): 35 MSRP: $26,840 (w/ 4.3L MPI) Test Report
Engine: MerCruiser 4.3L MPI (220 hp) Load: (People) 345 lb., (Fuel) 18 gal. Top Speed: 49.2 mph @ 4,900 rpm Time to 30 MPH: 8.0 sec. Time to Plane: 3.3 sec.
Bayliner Boats
Chaparral 186 SSi

Chaparral 186 SSi

Chaparral 186 SSi Breaking It Down
The same Wide Tech design that won Chaparral a Boat of the Year and a Top 10 honor from Boating the past two years is found on this stylish little bowrider. The look of the forked bow bleeds into the molded-in swim platform, three-piece windshield, sun pad and even the instrument panel. The design in the bow slightly widens the seating, and the sponsons allow for deeper storage compartments. In our tests, Chaparral's extended V-plane hull held planing speeds under 16 mph for water sports and to stretch the fuel supply. High Points
Scuppering and venting the storage compartments and cockpit will help keep the boat (and gear) dry and more salt-ready. Coaming panels are designed to fit the Wide Tech look. Swim platform is molded into the transom for sturdiness and a seamless transition to the rest of the boat. In-floor storage compartment hinges forward on a gas-assist strut for hands-free access. Low Points
Give credit for the anchor locker under the forward bow cushion (not often found on a boat this size), but paying out the chain and rode over the backrest around the nav light could eventually result in some scars. We’d like to see retractable cleats standard on a boat with this kind of stem-to-stern appeal.
Chaparral
Chaparral 186 SSi

Chaparral 186 SSi

Specs
LOA: 19'6" Beam: 8' Dry Weight: 2,850 lb. Max. Horsepower: 225 Fuel Capacity (gal.): 25 MSRP: $28,564 (w/ Volvo 4.3L) Test Report
Engine: MerCruiser 4.3L (190 hp) Load: (People) 310 lb., (Fuel) 15 gal. Top Speed: 45.2 mph @ 5,000 rpm Time to 30 MPH: 8.1 sec. Time to Plane: 3.3 sec.
Chaparral
Rinker 190 MTX

Rinker 190 MTX

Rinker 190 MTX Breaking It Down
While boaters' eyes are on the pickle-fork style of the 19-foot MTX, the real focus remains on three Rinker hallmarks. First is the deep freeboard and cockpit space, accomplished in part by keeping the engine bay slim and totally separating the transom sun pad from the cockpit. Second is skiboat- like handling and performance (less than three seconds to plane), due mostly to precise centerline balance. And then there's the edgy style and get-up-and-go for a price under $27K, backing up Rinker's longtime commitment to value. High Points
Deep freeboard in the cockpit and bow is typical of all Rinker runabouts — it's helpful on cold days too. Design of the bow has the practical advantage of a usable aftfacing seat all the way forward. Sponsons from the pickle fork do not touch the water when the boat is on plane, so the boat rides on an aggressive V-bottom hull. Lots of stainless-steel hardware adds to the overall value. Low Points
The pickle-fork bow on a smaller boat like the 190 makes it more difficult to include a boarding ladder and/or anchor locker in a convenient spot. Depth of the helm station gives nice weather protection, though it can challenge forward visibility when passengers are in the bow.
Rinker Boats
Rinker 190 MTX

Rinker 190 MTX

Specs
LOA: 19'4" Beam: 8' Dry Weight: 2,742 lb. Max. Horsepower: 225 Fuel Capacity (gal.): 39 MSRP: $26,896 (w/ 190 hp MerCruiser) Test Report
Engine: MerCruiser 4.3L (190 hp) Load: (People) 400 lb., (Fuel) 20 gal. Top Speed: 46 mph @ 4,800 rpm Time to 30 MPH: 7.5 sec. Time to Plane: 2.9 sec.
Rinker Boats
Tahoe Q5i

Tahoe Q5i

Tahoe Q5i Breaking It Down
All-fiberglass construction and solid hardware give this boat the appeal of larger boats; thanks to Tracker Marine's already huge bulk-buying powers, good components are fitted into it and priced within family budgets. This boat is responsive to the throttle with the 190 hp and really sporty with the 220 hp fuel-injected MerCruiser. Full instrumentation is standard, as is a Sirius Satellite-ready stereo complete with MP3 port and a factory-built and color-matched trailer. There's even an extended swim platform for swimming comfort at anchor. High Points
All-fiberglass construction includes a fiberglass sole that drains to the bilge for easy cleanup. Port aft seat hides a built-in cooler that drains to the bilge. Stainless-steel helm cup holders and rub rail show Tahoe isn’t skimping on hardware. Stainless grab handles at the boarding ladder ease re-entry. Low Points
Floor locker is ideal for life jackets but too short for skis or boards. Optional tower connections extend beyond rub rail, requiring more caution when docking.
Tahoe
Tahoe Q5i

Tahoe Q5i

Specs
LOA: 19'5" Beam: 7'7" Dry Weight: 2,719 lb. Max. Horsepower: 220 Fuel Capacity (gal.): 23 MSRP: $22,995 (w/190 hp) Test Report
Engine: MerCruiser 4.3L (190 hp) Load: (People) 230 lb., (Fuel) 20 gal. Top Speed: 45 mph @ 4,600 rpm Time to 30 MPH: 8.2 sec. Time to Plane: 3.6 sec.
Tahoe