Lots of boat builders make runabouts, and there are so many to choose from that picking one out can be rather difficult. (For some tips on making this decision, read Choosing the Perfect Runabout.)

Say you have a budget of around $65,000 and you want a boat just over 20’ long. There are dozens of reputable boat builders from which to choose. All have their own merits, but one that you should make sure is on your shortlist is the Larson LXi 238. Here’s why.

larson lxi 238

There are a million and one bowriders out there, but the Larson LXi 238 manages to set itself apart.

With a base MSRP of $64,138, the LXi 238 leaves you a little room in your budget for some nifty options. We’ll touch on those later; first, here's what comes with the base boat.

For power, the boat is fitted standard with the MerCruiser 250-horsepower 4.5-liter V6 and a Bravo Three drive. This is the first engine designed and built by Mercury specifically for marine applications. It isn’t some car engine that’s been “marinized” for use in a boat—and it’s a honey. (To find out why, read the full review of this powerplant, Mercruiser 4.5L V6 Promises V8 Performance, by our resident motorhead Charles Plueddeman).

The best thing about the engine is that it’s really all you need for a boat like the LXi 238. At 4,400 pounds, the LXi 238 gets around nicely on 250 horsepower and a twin-propeller drive. (Engine options do go as high as 380 horsepower, if you crave more oomph.)

In standard trim the LXi 238 comes with handsome gelcoat graphics, although anything except white will run you at least $707. Yes, adding colored gelcoat to hullsides adds to labor costs, but we think basic colors should be included and plain white boats should get a credit for the deletion.

Inside, the 238 comes with a spacious wraparound bow with stowage underneath. The stowage compartments are open on the side, which allows you to retrieve gear without having to ask the passenger seated there to get up. It’s an interesting setup, but a fully-concealed stowage compartment would make for a neater-looking interior. You also get anchor stowage in the bow and a four-step boarding ladder. There’s another ladder on the stern and eight stainless pop-up cleats around the perimeter.

lxi 238

The helm on the LXi 238 isn't just functional, it's also stylish.

The cockpit offers up a nicely appointed helm, with a glossy black gelcoated dash accented with faux brushed-aluminum appliqués and a vinyl-wrapped “brow” shrouding the gauges. The driver and passenger get flip-up bolsters and there’s a changing room on the port side that can be optioned up to include a portable MSD with pump out. A porthole in the changing room is standard.

In the runabout market, there are so many choices that it’s daunting task to come up with a short list of prospects you can see at one boat show. You don’t necessarily have to put the Larson LXi 238 at the top of your list, but it definitely should be on it—because this company clearly knows how to build a runabout that’s everything it should be.

Other Choices: As we said, there are plenty to choose from. Start by checking out the Cruisers Sport Series 238, the Rinker Captiva 236, and the Stingray 250LR. If your budget allows for a bit more expense, also look at the Formula 240 Bowrider, the Cobalt R3, and the Regal 2500.

For more information, visit Larson.

See Larson LXi 238 listings.
Draft (max)2'9"
Deadrise22 degrees
Displacement4,400 lbs
Fuel capacity57 gal.

Written by: Brett Becker
Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for Boats.com, he regularly writes and shoots for BoatTrader.com. Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.