If you think a bowrider might be the right type of boat for your family, you might want to read Bowriders: 10 Key Considerations Before You Buy, post-haste. If you’re already sure, however, then you can begin your research in earnest. And if that research includes looking at some recently introduced bowrider models that stand out from the crowd, prepare to do some scrolling on this very page. We’ve chosen 10 bowriders that impressed our editorial team so much, we named them top picks for 2016.
Since it first hit the water this boat has been making waves, starting with a win in the NMMA Innovation Awards. It’s unlike all of Bayliner’s past bowriders in the under-20-foot class, because it features all-composite construction, more interior space, and a self-bailing cockpit. During extended testing (we spent a day on this boat and shot a Bayliner VR5 Video Boat Review) we discovered it felt more solid, handled the waves better, and was more comfortable than any Bayliner of its size we’ve tested before. Added bonus: at a starting MSRP of $26,999, this boat actually costs less than the 185 Bowrider model it replaces.
Read our review of the VR5’s bigger brother, Bayliner VR6: Brave New World.
Visit Bayliner VR5 listings.
You want a 23 footer with all the bells and whistles? Bryant has that end of the market covered, with the Calandra. Though the $70,000 base (which includes a trailer) is a bit of a heavy lift for a boat this size, it’s easy to see what you’re getting for your money: perks like a six-speaker stereo system, French-stitched upholstery, a one-piece fiberglass deck and liner that incorporates the seat bases and is bonded to the stringers, an enclosed head compartment, and a convertible rear seat/sunpad. Detailing on this boat has been honed to near-perfection, but the real story here comes when you sit down behind the wheel. Two of our reviewers have spent time on the Calandra, and both agree that its performance is great and it handles the seas like a champ. Top end: 51.5 MPH.
Watch Charles Plueddeman’s Bryant Calandra Video Boat Review, read his written review Bryant Calandra: Attention to Detail, or get Brett Becker’s take on things in his Bryant Calandra Boat Review: Get the Skinny.
You’re convinced this is the boat you’ve been looking for? Okay, then it’s time to look at some Bryant Calandra listings.
What happens when you take that sharp V in the bow, widen it out, and give a bowrider a bit of a pickle-fork look? You get a bowrider that’s part deckboat, like the Cobalt 26SD. You also get additional room in the forward cockpit, which in this case, is a gaping 7’7” wide. And while there are plenty of deckboats around that accomplish the same thing, there aren’t many that have the gleaming gel coat, exemplary fit and finish, and fine detailing that Cobalt is known for. Price starts just over $100K, and engine options range from a 300 HP V8 all the way up to 430 horses.
Read our full review of this model, Cobalt 26SD: Switch Hitter.
See Cobalt 26SD listings.
Crownline 270 SS
Crownline is known for building top-tier boats, and the 270 SS shows why. Sure, it has comfy seating and plush cushions. Yes, it runs on Mercruiser’s new 6.2L V8 sterndrive. Of course, there’s a head in the passenger’s side console. But the surprise goodie onboard is the aft lounge’s electric-actuated backrest. Most aft lounges have some form of swinging backrest that converts from aft facing, to forward facing. A few fold flat to create a big sunpad. But this one does it all at the press of a button—and it does it shockingly fast. Price for the Crownline 270 SS is a smidge over $100,000.
Watch our First Look Video of the Crownline 270 SS.
If you’re interested in this model, there are plenty of listings on boats.com.
Four Winns Horizon F190
In the starter-boat category, the new Four Winns Horizon F190 is going to be a serious contender. This boat lists at a mere $25K and change, yet it also comes with a standard trailer, fully-linered stowage compartments, gas-assist struts on larger hatches, and swiveling bucket seats at the helm and passenger’s console. Fit and finish is surprisingly good, too, and even though performance isn’t going to be eye-watering with the standard-issue 3.0L sterndrive, according to our reviewer Brett Becker, handling is excellent and the boat tracks through turns like it’s on rails.
Learn more by reading Four Winns Horizon F190: Entry Level Runabout.
Check out some listings for the F190.
Four Winns H440
We don’t want to appear biased towards Four Winns with a double-pick, but we do want to give credit where credit is due. And while the F190 we just talked about has mass appeal, at the opposite end of the spectrum Four Winns has hit another home run with the H440. This boat is not only a bowrider, it’s also an express cruiser. Up front there’s a bow cockpit with seating for five, an electrically-actuated cocktail table, drink holders, stereo speakers, and a filler that turns the whole bow into a cushioned playpen. Oh, yes, and the boat also happens to have a mid-cabin master stateroom, a forward guest stateroom (though occupants will have to duck around a post that supports the bow cockpit), a saloon, a full galley, a stand-up head with shower, a helm deck, and an aft cockpit with a hydraulic swim platform. Is this boat really a bowrider, or is it a small yacht? Yes.
Watch a First Look Video of the H440, or read our full review of this boat, Four Winns H440: Bowrider or Express Cruiser?
Check out some Four Winns Horizon H440 listings.
Larson LXH 190
Larson builds their boats with an unusual technique called VEC, which vacuum-infuses the hull and stringers together in a closed molding system. In the case of the LXH 190, they designed a hull with 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom, which sharpens to 37 degrees at the stern/keel intersection. Put construction and design together, and what do you get? We tested this boat upon its introduction at Larson’s dealer meeting, in both outboard and stern drive versions, and came to the conclusion that this is one of the smoothest-riding 19-foot monohulls on the water. Period. Pricing isn’t cheap (plan to spend between $45,000 and $50,000) but nor are the perks, including a transom and swim platform padded with SeaDek, and an aft bench seat that’s notably more comfortable than most.
If a super-solid build and a smooth ride are tops on your must-have list, this is a model you’ll want to take for a sea trial. You can get more insight by reading Larson LXH 190: Luc Makes Bowriders Lucky.
Or, take a peek at some current Larson LXH 190 IO (stern drive) and LXH 190 OB (outboard) listings.
Regal 2100 RX Surf
Dedicated inboard wake surfing boats cost an arm and a leg, and don’t have much utility beyond surfing excursions. Not so, with the Regal 2100 RX Surf. Equipped with Volvo-Penta’s Forward Drive, this boat can both surf and play with its stern drive powerplant and bowrider layout. Priced in the mid 60’s, the base model includes a 1,000-pound ballast tank plus surf tabs that allow the driver to “shape” the wake. Convertible lounges, a folding tower with board racks, and an electronic helm (Regal calls their version RegalVue) are icing on the cake.
Get a quick look at the boat in our Regal 2100 RX Surf First look Video.
Or, if you’re ready to check out some actual boats take a look at these Regal 2100 RX Surf listings.
Sea Ray 280 SLX
With Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride system, a 350 HP 6.2-liter Mercruiser under the hood, and a base price just over $130,000, the 280 SLX is one hot new ride. One of the biggest leaps forward you’ll find aboard is the new Dynamic Display system, which offers touch-screen control of all the boat’s systems. From the lights to the stereo to the bilge pumps, the swipe of a finger replaces those old push-buttons and switches. Added bonus: the rear sunpad has ratcheting backrests that swing up to convert into a pair of loungers.
Check out our review and First Look Video of this boat in Sea Ray 280 SLX: Lighting the Way.
You like what you see? Then view some current Sea Ray 280 SLX listings.
If you want a jet-powered runabout that’s ready for some serious watersports action, the Yamaha AR240 is right up your alley. The AR version of the 240 has a tow-tower plus added splashy graphics (which adds about $3,000 to the 240’s $50,000 price tag), but more importantly, the entire 240 line-up has been tuned to eliminate the loud high-pitch noises that plague most jet boats. In fact, when we tested it we noted a five decibel drop from the pre-2015 models. On top of that, with the twin 1.8L 180 HP four-cylinder powerplants, the AR240 hits a top-end of 50 MPH. And it features an articulating keel (more or less like a rudder but it doesn’t protrude beneath hull depth; watch our Yamaha AR240 Keel Design video to see how it works) that noticeably improves handling. The new models also boast the Yamaha Connex touch-screen display, which includes controls ranging from the stereo to the cruise control.
Read the full review, Yamaha 240 Series: Ultra Quiet with Sure-footed Tracking.
Or take a look at some AR240 listings.
Did you find the right boat for your needs among these 10? We certainly hope so. But if that’s not the case, don’t worry. We have oodles of reviews and videos of new and late model bowriders you can poke through, until you find the ideal model for you and your family. Added bonus: the next best thing to riding around in your boat is looking at and reading about boats—so kick back, grab a favorite beverage, and enjoy.