Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000 | Boating Magazine

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Check out these six great outboard-powered bowriders that start at $27,000.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Bayliner Boats

When Carl Moesly designed the Sea Craft 19 — the world’s first fiberglass bowrider in 1965 — he powered it with a sterndrive. When other builders followed suit on the open-bow concept, they did too. When most people think of the family runabout, they think of sterndrive propulsion.

However, in the very first brochure for the Sea Craft 19, Moesly included in the options list: “Available as an attractive outboard with huge, deep cockpit and hinged Burma teak panel on motorwell for safety and soundproofing.” With that, Moesly provided an alternative for those who liked the outboard’s simplicity, ease of maintenance and ability to tilt clear of the water. He also perfectly summed up the perceived pros and cons between the two power choices. The outboard freed up more cockpit space, but the sterndrive was quieter and (at that time anyway) more powerful. Still, for the most part of the next few decades, sterndrives became the definitive power choice for the style.

Fast forward to 2017. Outboard-powered bowriders are changing the game and, in some cases, winning it. Here are six of the hottest new outboard-powered bowriders.

On Outboards
Here are some of the pros and cons for using outboard power on a bowrider.

Pros:
* Frees up cockpit space inside the boat.
* In most cases, outboards deliver superior power-to-weight ratios over sterndrives.
* Can be tilted completely out of the water to prevent corrosion.
* Ease of maintenance and repowering down the road.
* Allows for more interior stowage.

Cons:
* Sacrifices crispness in turns, particularly in close-quarters maneuvering, compared to sterndrives with dual props.
* Can be more expensive.
* Outboard boats require swim steps rather than a full-beam swim platform.
* Aesthetically less pleasing to the eye for some boaters.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 20’8”| Beam: 7'9" | Dry Weight: 3,530 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 10/1,653 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 50 gal. | More Information: bayliner.com

Bayliner Boats

Bayliner Element E21
No one builds more sterndrive-powered bowriders than Bayliner. But when it came up with the Element concept a few years ago, Bayliner attempted to reinvent the entry-level boat concept. The idea, first incorporated into a 16-footer, proved so popular that Bayliner has expanded the idea to this 21-footer. While it looks almost like a deck boat, it’s still very much a bowrider — designed from the get-go to run on outboard power and only outboard power.

The E21 rides on a modified version of the patented ­Bayliner M-Hull designed to deliver outstanding small-boat stability and maneuverability. The M-Hull features a V center section flanked by deep chines and outboard sponsons. The M-Hull under the E21 places the keel deeper than the sponsons by about 8 inches at the bow and 4 inches at the transom. The deep center section softens the ride and also helps keep the prop hooked up in turns.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Bayliner Element E21

Bayliner Boats

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Bayliner Element E21

Bayliner Boats

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Bayliner Element E21

Bayliner Boats

Economy will certainly be another byproduct of this hull design. The E21 pops on plane with no bow rise and will hold plane at just 2,500 rpm. The E21 will take some motor trim, but the boat seems designed to run very level and turns in better when trimmed down. Wide open, we recorded a top speed of 41.5 mph. It proved more than capable of handling the traditional watersports — skiing and tubing.

The E21 features a deep transom platform, plus a pair of wing platforms port and starboard. The cockpit is self-bailing, and there is stowage under each of the three U-lounge seat cushions. The battery and battery switch are below the starboard seat and will be easy to reach for service. The backrests curve with the contours of the inwale and are attractive. The console seats are simple cushions mounted on bases molded as part of the deck. Stowage in the port console will hold some gear.

How We Tested
Engine: Single 150 hp Mercury 150 FourStroke gasoline
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Black Max 14.5" x 19" 3-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 1.92:1
Fuel Load: 25 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Price: $29,711 (as tested)

Contact: Bayliner Boats Knoxville, Tennessee; 360-435-8957; bayliner.com

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 22'1" | Beam: 8'5" | Dry Weight: 4,134 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 10/2,650 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 44 gal. | More Information: fourwinns.com

Four Winns

Four Winns HD 220 OB
We ran the Four Winns HD 220 OB with a 250 hp Evinrude G2 outboard. With three aboard and 35 gallons of fuel, we pushed this boat to a top speed of 47.6 mph — under the right conditions, this could be a 50 mph boat. Four Winns modified the HD 220 hull to incorporate a set-back bracket for the outboard, which preserves much of the swim platform. Plus, the HD 220 OB has a unique running surface, with a pad keel that Four Winns says accommodates the change in weight distribution with outboard power. The set-back motor gives the prop great trim leverage, and the HD 220 OB really aired out when we trimmed to get the last 500 rpm of top speed. The ride in some stiff lake chop was outstanding, and this all-fiberglass boat feels really solid.

When Four Winns converted this 22-footer 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.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Four Winns HD 220 OB

Four Winns

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Four Winns HD 220 OB

Four Winns

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Four Winns HD 220 OB

Four Winns

Four Winns could have eliminated the sterndrive motor box and opened up the aft cockpit of this boat. ­However, that structure also serves as the base for the aft-facing seat over the transom, a nice feature in its own right. So the motor box stays, and we get a 5-foot-by-3-foot-by-28-inch-deep cubby below the aft seat.

The main cockpit of the HD 220 OB features a wide walk-through from the platform, L-shaped seating aft and bucket seats at the consoles. A head compartment is fashioned into the port console. There’s room for four people in the bow, which comes with a broad platform covered in nonskid and a boarding ladder that will reach the beach.

How We Tested
Engine: Single 250 hp Evinrude E-Tec G2 gasoline outboard motor
Drive/Prop: BRP Rebel 15.5" x 17" 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 35 gal.
Crew Weight: 700 lb.

Price: $80,108 (as tested)

Contact: Four Winns Boats Cadillac, Michigan; 231-775-1351; fourwinns.com

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 24'0" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 5,200 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 8/1,800 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 50 gal. | More Information: montereyboats.com

Monterey Boats

Monterey M45
This variation of the M4 sterndrive came equipped with 250 horses of supercharged power in the form of a Mercury Verado, which made the M45 both economical to run and a blast to drive. During our test run, the M45 was quick to plane, fearless in turns and rewarding in top speed — pushing 50 mph at 6,200 rpm at wide-open throttle. And it was quiet, registering just 65 db at idle speed. No wonder outboards are gaining ground among runabout enthusiasts. In our test, the outboard had tons of power for watersports, plus it tilts easily and fully for beaching up.

Inside the boat? The helm station has a comfortable, rugged bucket seat. ­Effortless adjustments and an ergonomic fit let the tilt wheel (with ­Mercury power-assist ­steering) and buttery-smooth digital throttle and shift fall right under hand. For the crew, there is much to admire. Color schemes are nothing less than dazzling in their glossy sport colors, yet tasteful, turning heads without blinding eyes. Add to that an appropriate gleam from ­polished stainless-steel louvers, rub rails, cleats and heavy-duty hinges, and you have a look that pleases and lasts due to solid, through-bolt connections and, where they are needed, backing plates at key stress points.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Monterey M45

Monterey Boats

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Monterey M45

Monterey Boats

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Monterey M45

Monterey Boats

The elegant styling is ­accommodating, with lounges that wrap fully around the cockpit, leaving a ­generous entry at the transom and clear pathways to the beamy forward seating. Take a big crew and crank up the factory-installed stereo, and your guests might just begin dancing with all that space. Under the portside console, we found a changing room, which is useful and roomy with a portable head.

How We Tested
Engine: 250 hp Mercury Verado
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury 17" Enertia Eco Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 40 gal.
Crew Weight: 160 lb.

Price: $55,841 (as tested)

Contact: Monterey Boats Williston, Florida; 352-528-2628; montereyboats.com

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 17'10" | Beam: 7'5" | Dry Weight: 2,010 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 8/1,800 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 24 gal. | More Information: glastron.com

Glastron

Glastron GT-180
Glastron is a boatbuilder that has historically embraced outboard power for bowriders — as evidenced in its cult classic GT-160. The GT-180 is the 21st-century version of that boat, a little bigger and designed to carry many more ­ponies. While it’s rated for up to 150 hp, our test boat had a ­Mercury 115EL on the transom. This boat performed wonderfully with this power. We recorded a top speed of 45.7 mph at 5,800 rpm and measured almost no bow rise while climbing onto plane en route to a best cruise speed of just over 21 mph at 3,000 rpm.

This entry-level bowrider is a great first boat for a family that can grow into it over the years. As a starter boat with small kids, the high coamings, thoughtful padding and good handgrips make it secure. But when the kids become teenagers, you can hand over the keys to the boat without worrying. It’s great for tubing and water toys — and if their youthful hormones overcome them, it’s difficult for them to get into trouble. Crank the wheel as hard as you can flat out, and the boat just takes over and cools things down. It is very predictable in turning and handling at speed.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Glastron GT-180

Glastron

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Glastron GT-180

Glastron

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Glastron GT-180

Glastron

Our test boat had the XL package (order it if only for the two helm seats with folding bolsters) including snap-in carpet, pop-up cleats and stainless-steel trim. The ­standard boat is fitted with well-padded bowrider seats, great backrests, and a comfy, full-width bench-style seat aft. Stowage is outstanding, with self-draining carpeted lockers forward, a huge centerline ski locker with a rubber mat, and a cavernous glove box fitted with the Bluetooth stereo, MP3 plug and cigar plug. A cooler is hidden under the rear seat, and there is plenty of stowage for everything, from life jackets to beach gear.

How We Tested
Engine: Mercury 115EL FourStroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/13¾" x 15" 3-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 2.07:1
Fuel Load: 20 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Price: $27,253 (with test power)

Contact: Glastron Boats Cadillac, Michigan; 231-775-1351; glastron.com

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 21'6" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 3,400 lb. | Seating Capacity: 12 | Fuel Capacity: 40 gal. | More Information: searay.com

Sea Ray

Sea Ray 21 SPX OB
The trend in bowriders is to give the prospective buyer the choice between sterndrive and outboard power in the same model. The Sea Ray 21 SPX OB is one of the finest models around to offer both. The outboard version is rated for 200 hp, and we tested it with a Mercury 150 outboard. It jumped onto plane in less than 4 seconds with very little bow rise. We reached the 30 mph benchmark in less than 8.5 seconds and recorded a top speed of 46.6 mph.

True to form for the outboard option, Sea Ray’s 21 SPX OB maximizes interior space. Below the OB’s sun pad, the real estate normally reserved for the sterndrive engine is left empty to store up to 13 cubic feet of gear. Topside, Sea Ray slimmed down the gunwales to increase cockpit space, and an 8-foot-6-inch beam stretches longer than the norm. A gentle arc to the bow widens the forward cockpit, rather than squeezing it to a point. The result is a surprising ­12-passenger capacity.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Sea Ray 21 SPX OB

Sea Ray

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Sea Ray 21 SPX OB

Sea Ray

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Sea Ray 21 SPX OB

Sea Ray

Most will find a seat on the main cockpit’s huge L-shaped lounge and broad portside bench. Position the latter’s ­removable seat back to the rear and you have a forward-facing chaise. Move it one cushion length forward to make a forward-facing seat behind the port console and an observer seat aft. Or add a filler cushion against the port console to fashion an aft-facing lounge. The filler stows neatly below a hinged seat cushion. A sun pad awaits those who want to soak up the rays. Tilt up its forward half and you have an aft-facing couch for two when hanging at the sandbar. With the outboard power, you can trim it up for no worries.

How We Tested
Engine: Mercury 150 EFI FourStroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Black Max 15" x 17" 3-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 1.92:1
Fuel Load: 30 gal.
Crew Weight: 375 lb.

Price: $41,007 (with test power)

Contact: Sea Ray Boats Knoxville, Tennessee; 800-772-6287; searay.com

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

LOA: 21'9" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 2,785 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 12/1,700 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 44 gal. | More Information: starcraftmarine.com

Bill Doster

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXT
Starcraft was one of the ­earlier companies to bring outboard power back to bowriders over the past few years, and the company did an excellent job with the Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXT, a boat with a cool graphic package and solid performance numbers. Our tester, fitted with a Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboard, recorded a top speed of 48 mph and a best cruise of 22.4 mph at 3,500 rpm, where we achieved 4.8 mpg. That’s good performance from a near-22-footer that weighs in at 2,785 pounds dry. The boat is rated to hold a 250 hp engine, which should propel the boat into the 50s on the ­speedometer.

One thing to note, the SCX 210 OB EXT employs an Armstrong bracket to securely bolt the Yamaha to the extended swim platform. This setup affords more room on the swim platform, as well as the use of the structural swim platform as a watersports prep area. Inside the boat, there’s plenty of room for the family to stretch out. The forward pickle-fork design allows for wraparound loungers, fitted with removable center cushions and plenty of backlit cup holders and USB ports. In the bow section, there’s extra storage for the swim ladder (standard) and a locker for the optional anchor.

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EXT

Bill Doster

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EX

Bill Doster

Six Outboard Bowriders Starting at $27,000

Starcraft SCX 210 OB EX

Bill Doster

The cockpit features a secure but comfortable bucket seat for the pilot and an L-shaped seating arrangement for passengers. The driver will be plenty occupied at the helm with full dashboard instrumentation; for more, upgrade to a touchscreen display from Yamaha. In addition to a comfy helm seat with flip-up bolster, slide and swivel adjustments, the portside console houses a convenience center with sink and lighted cup holders.

Stowage? The cockpit features a large in-floor locker as well as storage compartments under the driver and passenger consoles. The stern area is large and watersports-friendly, with SeaDek-padded flooring and a rear seat that quickly converts into a plush sun lounger.

How We Tested
Engine: Yamaha F200 XB four-stroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/14¼" x 17" 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.86:1
Fuel Load: 40 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Price: $49,999 (as tested)

Contact: Starcraft Marine New Paris, Indiana; 866-772-4538; starcraftmarine.com

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