Six Great Boats Under $30,000

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

The bow lounge is ample.

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

The all-digital gauges display engine vitals, plus neat data, like lake water temps.

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

The 255 hp Rotax E-TEC pushes the 180 Challenger to speeds in excess of 46 mph.

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Jet Boat: Sea-Doo 180 Challenger
About This Boat: Trading some speed and dockside maneuverability for acres of seating, the 180 Challenger sports a single engine installed deep along the keel, out of the way of the cockpit. There's a triple-wide aft bench, and getting to the swim platform is made easy by the centerline walk-through. You can rotate the boat's swiveling helm seats 180 degrees without knocking knees with crew seated aft, a feat similar-size stern-drives often can't match. The all-digital gauges display engine vitals, plus neat data, like lake water temps. The bow lounge is ample, and little details, such as clips to secure the Bimini top for trailering, are standard. Fun Factor: You'll blast off at speeds in excess of 46 mph with the 255 hp Rotax E-TEC engine and cut turns with agility and grace. The reverse thrust feature operates a newly optimized gate that enhances slow-speed control. You Get: A trailer, seating for eight, a transom walkway, digital instrumentation and a bow lounge that converts into a sun lounge. Price: $23,399 (with 255 hp Rotax E-TEC) Specs
LOA: 17'7" Beam: 8'2" Draft: 1'0" Displacement: 1,913 lb. Deadrise: 20 degrees Fuel Capacity: 32 gal. Max. Horsepower: 255 (1,500 cc) Contact: Bombardier Recreational Products; Valcourt, Quebec, Canada; 715-848-4957; sea-doo.com

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sea-Doo 180 Challenger

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Pontoon: Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish
About This Boat: Luxury seating abounds with curvy, contoured lounges styled to match the flowing lines sweeping along the rails and gates of this economical boat. There's a shade-making Bimini top and, underfoot, a fully carpeted deck. We stomped on this, and the deck absorbed the abuse without reverberation. The "sport fish" handle comes from dual casting seats forward, each with its own tackle console, rod holder and beverage holder. Only the reclining captain's chair, with its armrests, lumbar support and a reclining back, was more comfortable aboard this pontoon with twin oversize tubes. Fun Factor: Available with up to a 115 hp Mercury four-stroke, this 'toon will provide weekends of family and fish-frying fun. You Get: A nonskid-finished swim platform complete with a fold-down ladder that deploys from the water but stows away safely. In addition, the side panels sport stylish swoopy graphics. Price: $28,995 (with 60 hp Mercury four-stroke) Specs
LOA: 24'3" Beam: 8'6" Draft: 1'4" Displacement: 2,300 lb. Deadrise: NA Fuel Capacity: 42 gal. Max. Horsepower: 150 Contact: Sun Tracker Pontoons; Springfield, Missouri; 417-873- 4555; suntrackerboats.com Test Data: Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

At the helm there's a reclining captain’s chair, with armrests, lumbar support and a reclining back.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

The “sport fish” handle comes from dual casting seats forward, each with its own tackle console, rod holder and beverage holder.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

There’s a shade-making Bimini top and, underfoot, a fully carpeted deck.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 Sport Fish

Available with up to a 115 hp Mercury four-stroke, this ’toon will provide weekends of family and fish-frying fun.

Stingray 195CS

Cuddy: Stingray 195CS
About This Boat: Stingray's 195CS packs a ton of features into its 19-foot-6-inch length and 7-foot-7-inch beam: pop-up cleats, a fiberglass cabin liner and seats with 36-ounce foam-backed PreFixx vinyl, a "super fabric" that has consistently defied our attempts at staining during tests. The cockpit carpet is marine grade, and there's an anchor locker, a ski locker and a built-in ice chest, so all the gear stows in shipshape fashion. For sturdy construction, Stingray conducts continual and extensive testing on both the fiberglass laminate of its boats and the performance of its patented Z-plane hull design. Fun Factor: Exciting acceleration and smooth-as-butter turns at speeds to 58 mph are what we encountered during our test of this boat with a 220 hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI stern-drive. You Get: The tri-panel companionway provides excellent cabin access, the cabin lights are adjustable, and the transom is notched for better performance, just like a "go-fast" boat. Price: $29,534 (with 220 hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI stern-drive) Specs
LOA: 19'6" Beam: 7'7" Draft: 2'7" Displacement: 2,734 lb. Deadrise: 19 degrees Fuel Capacity: 35 gal. Max. Horsepower: 220 Contact: Stingray Boats; Hartsville, South Carolina; 843-383- 4507; stingrayboats.com

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

The transom is notched for better performance, just like a “go-fast” boat.

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Seats feature 36-ounce foam-backed PreFixx vinyl, a “super fabric” that has consistently defied our attempts at staining during tests.

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

The tri-panel companionway provides excellent cabin access, and the cabin lights are adjustable.

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Stingray 195CS

Exciting acceleration and smooth-as-butter turns at speeds to 58 mph are capable with the 220 hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI stern-drive.

Tahoe Q7 SF

Bowrider: Tahoe Q7 SF
About This Boat: For all-around family versatility, it's tough to beat a fish-and-ski, and Tahoe's Q7 SF ranks as one of the very best for under $30,000. The Q7 offers anglers stowable fore and aft fishing chairs, raised casting decks, starboard-side rod storage and an aerated livewell, while a tow ring and ski locker are just begging to be put to use by skiers. A full-width swim platform with a fold-down boarding ladder makes getting in and out of the water a snap, while a sun deck with a removable pad provides a great place to soak up some rays while watching all the action unfold — be it jumping fish or a skier jumping wakes. Fun Factor: The Q7's standard 4.3-liter MerCruiser stern-drive cranks out 190 ponies, providing a more-than-adequate power supply for either running to the next honey hole or pulling a skier in the wake. You Get: A wide range of standard features, including in-floor wakeboard or ski stowage, a MotorGuide 54-pound-thrust, foot-controlled trolling motor, Lowrance digital depth finder and an AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 jack. Price: $27,995 (with 4.3-liter 190 hp MerCruiser) Specs
LOA: 20'6" Beam: 8'0" Draft: 1'11" Displacement: 2,800 lb. Deadrise: 20 degrees Fuel Capacity: 45 gal. Max. Horsepower: 300 Contact: Tahoe Sport Boats; Springfield, Missouri; 417-873- 4555; tahoesportboats.com Test Data: Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Standard features include in-floor wakeboard or ski stowage, a MotorGuide 54-pound-thrust, foot-controlled trolling motor, Lowrance digital depth finder and an AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 jack.

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

A sun deck with a removable pad provides a great place to soak up some rays while watching all the action unfold.

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

Tahoe Q7 SF

The Q7’s standard 4.3-liter MerCruiser stern-drive cranks out 190 ponies.

Nautic Star 190RG

Saltwater Fish Boat: Nautic Star 190RG
About This Boat: The 190RG is a no-frills, easy-to-keep center-console design that makes an ideal fishing platform for anglers in any inshore saltwater fishery. Constructed with a rolled-edge hull, the 190 does not use a fiberglass liner, reducing both cost and weight. It makes use of splatter paint on the deck, which hides scuffs and nicks, and it offers nice fishability, thanks to its forward flush deck. Back-splashes, meanwhile, do not easily enter the cockpit because of the boat's 25-inch transom. A 35-gallon fuel tank, cradled and glassed beneath the cockpit floor, provides good range to reach the fish anywhere they lurk. Fun Factor: Even with two 200-pounders aboard and a full tank of gas, we hit 39.6 mph with the Yamaha F90 at wide-open throttle. Time to plane was 3.9 seconds, and we achieved 30 mph in 11 seconds. You Get: All the fishing amenities you'd expect, including three vertical rod holders on each side of the console, a 20-gallon baitwell and a molded 72-quart cooler seat that rests under the leaning post. Price: $16,195 (with Yamaha F90TXR; trailer not included) Specs
LOA: 18'8" Beam: 8'0" Draft: 11" Displacement: 1,275 lb. Deadrise: 16 degrees Fuel Capacity: 35 gal. Max. Horsepower: 115 Contact: Nautic Star Boats; Amory, Mississippi; 662-256-5636; nauticstarboats.com Test Data: Nautic Star 190RG

Nautic Star 190RG

Nautic Star 190RG

Nautic Star 190RG

The 190RG features all the fishing amenities you’d expect, including three vertical rod holders on each side of the console, a 20-gallon baitwell and a molded 72-quart cooler seat that rests under the leaning post.

Ranger Z118

Freshwater Fish Boat: Ranger Z118
About This Boat: At first glance, it's hard to tell the difference between Ranger's Z118 and the company's premium Z Comanche series — except in terms of price, that is. OK, the Z118 sells for just over $30,000, but it represents a terrific option that can't be ignored by serious bass anglers looking for both quality and value. The Z118 offers spacious deck area, outstanding performance and must-have fishing features, such as a divided, recirculating livewell with timer, a starboard front-deck compartment and a center locker that can be transformed into a tackle organizer capable of holding eight Plano 3700 utility boxes.
**
Fun Factor:** The Z118 can really move. With a full tank of gas and a passenger weight of 350 pounds, our Yamaha-powered test boat achieved plane in 3.5 seconds and topped out at 56 mph at 6,100 rpm. You Get: A bunch of stuff, including a Minn Kota Maxxum 70 trolling motor, Lowrance Mark-5x Pro fish finder, onboard Duo Pro battery charger and portside and center rod lockers capable of handling 8-foot flipping sticks. Price: $31,819 (with Yamaha VZ150 TLR) Specs
LOA: 18'8" Beam: 7'10" Draft: 1'3" Displacement: 1,550 lb. Deadrise: 16 degrees Fuel Capacity: 38 gal. Max. Horsepower: 150 Contact: Ranger Boats; Flippin, Arkansas; 870-453-2222; rangerboats.com

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Standout features include a Minn Kota Maxxum 70 trolling motor, Lowrance Mark-5x Pro fish finder, onboard Duo Pro battery charger and portside and center rod lockers.

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

The Z118 offers spacious deck area, outstanding performance and must-have fishing features, such as a divided, recirculating livewell with timer, a starboard front-deck compartment and a center locker.

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Ranger Z118

Our Yamaha-powered test boat achieved plane in 3.5 seconds and topped out at 56 mph at 6,100 rpm.