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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Power Boats – Review and Buying Guide

Best Budget Choice
XO 250
Best Premium Choice
BENETEAU GRAN TURISMO 40

BENETEAU GRAN TURISMO 40

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Best Overall Choice
FOUR WINNS VISTA 255

FOUR WINNS VISTA 255

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 by Updated on October 15, 2020. In Boats

For experienced and beginner boaters, nothing is more irresistible than the experience of cruising the open water aboard a powerful watercraft. The cool breeze and splash of water on the face, the foamy waves that trail the boat as it cuts through the water, and the sheer ecstasy that comes from steering a boat are all too strong to resist.

However, you need a good quality powerboat to experience all of these and more. For this reason, we have written this guide to show you five of the very best powerboats available on the market. Beyond that, you will find everything you need to know about choosing a good-quality boat and the category that best suits you. But before we get into all of that, let’s take a look at what powerboats are, albeit briefly.

What is a Power Boat?

Powerboat is a broad term that describes different categories of boats with engines. It can be a small boat for fishing or a larger one that can accommodate an entire family for long-distance cruises. The term even covers high-performance boats with every amenity a modern watercraft can have. Powerboats come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and they are best suited to different uses.

That’s about all the lessons on powerboats you’ll find in this article.

Considering the numerous options, it can be an uphill task to choose just one, especially if it is your first boat. Thankfully, you are reading this guide, which means that you should be able to select the perfect watercraft that matches your needs in a few minutes from now.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the best power boats and what to look for when buying one.

Best Budget Choice

1. XO 250

XO 250

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The XO 250 is fabricated from a 5083 marine-grade aluminum hull, making it lightweight and extremely durable. There is a lot of attention to detail in this boat, with neat internal lines that allow for plenty of built-in features.

It comes with a shock-absorbing bucket seat, and all the instruments and switches are conveniently located. The seating position is sited perfectly and gives clear visibility over the bow without the need to stand while helming fast.

The XO 250 features a 12V drawer fridge, an optional radar arch, a big plotter and sounder, and the bow has four beautifully molded lockers. The battery switch and stainless fuel tank are easy to access.

The XO 250 is the perfect powerboat for you if you want a watercraft that combines seakeeping, practicality, and style.

Specs

  • LOA: 24 ft 6 in
  • Beam: 7 ft 4 in
  • Displacement: 551 lbs (no engine)
  • Power options: 150 HP to 320 HP
  • Fuel capacity: 50 gallons
  • RCD category: C for 8

Check here for current listings of XO 250.

Pros

  • Safe and practical
  • Rapid performance
  • Solid build
  • Low planing speed and flat transition to plane
  • Excellent handling and seakeeping

Cons

  • The rear bench seat has no option for replacement

2. AXOPAR 28 TT

AXOPAR 28 TT

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If you want a powerboat that is distinctively solid like German cars, perhaps the Axopar 28 TT will be your best option. The GPR-built boat has an aggressive and radical styling.

The typical Scandinavian craft has a deck and cockpit areas that are designed extensively in G2 Flexiteek. Rock-solid guard rails top the high bulwarks moving forward. Even in out-of-sight places like the anchor locker is superbly finished without the slightest compromise that is often the norm in such hidden areas.

Under the double sun pad of the Axopar 28 TT is a carefully hidden double berth that can be accessed through the aft bench seat. So if you need to spend the night somewhere tranquil, you will find enough room to accommodate even the largest couples.

The forward seating area can be converted into a second sunbathing spot to complement the aft sun pad. The boat also has a large bathing platform that can comfortably accommodate a semi-deflated inflatable craft.

Specs

  • LOA: 28 ft 2 in
  • Beam: 9 ft 3 in
  • Transom deadrise angle: 22 degrees
  • Displacement: 3,725 lbs (no engine)
  • Power options: 150 Hp to 350 HP
  • Fuel capacity: 57 gallons
  • RCD category: C for 8

Check here for Axopar 28 TT listings.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Great protection from harsh weather
  • Speedy performance
  • Movement on deck is easy
  • Safe and practical
  • Excellent handling and seakeeping

Cons

  • Many items on the rather long list of extras ought to have been included as standard items
  • Options list contains only one engine manufacturer
Best Premium Choice

3. BENETEAU GRAN TURISMO 40

BENETEAU GRAN TURISMO 40

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From the French yard comes the Beneteau Gran Turismo 40 – a 40-footer that seeks to do things slightly different from the norm.

This powerboat comes with a regimented standard layout, including a chaise longue forward to port, a wet bar opposite a cockpit that has a C-shaped dinette right behind it, and a double helm to starboard located at both sides of the central companionway.

There is a central double berth in the forward cabin below, a saloon located in the middle with galley and head on the one hand and dinette on the other, and a center cabin that comes with two berths.

The boat is extremely lightweight without feeling that way. The hull is designed to take punishment without flinching one bit. There is plenty of room and seats in the cockpit.

Specs

  • Length: 41 ft 2 in
  • Beam: 12 ft 8 in
  • Fuel capacity: 143 gallons
  • Draught: 3 ft 7 in
  • Displacement: 16,975 lbs

Check here for current prices and listings.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Attractive and stylish design
  • Performance with twin 300 HP engines is very high
  • Unique and effective layout
  • Great value
  • Good seakeeping

Cons

  • Only one windscreen wiper
  • The finish is below premium level
  • The storage in mid-cabin is slightly compromised
Best Overall Choice

4. FOUR WINNS VISTA 255

FOUR WINNS VISTA 255

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The Four Winns Vista 255 is a capable weekender for a couple or small family. Although it a fairly fast and efficient boat, it is not designed to be a sports boat, making it an excellent choice for easy cruising for the weekend.

It is worth noting that the cockpit is well elevated, especially considering its size. This means you will have excellent visibility, whether standing or seating. There is a convertible sunbed/back seat set up in the cockpit. This set up features a tilting backrest that can turn the spot into a seat facing aft so that you can watch skiers, swimmers, and anything that catches your interest.

The galley is equipped with a microwave and a small fridge, with enough room to accommodate a bigger fridge. Opposite the galley is the main cabin with a 6 ft 3-inches headroom. There is a full head complete with a shower, toilet, and sink. The convertible double bed/dinette is positioned diagonally. The mid-cabin has a queen-sized bed.

This stylish craft is a beamy boat, meaning it will retain its stability even when the crew moves about. The steering is considerably quick and very responsive.

Specs

  • LOA: 25 ft 1 in
  • Beam: 8 ft 3 in
  • Draught: 2 ft 9 in
  • Transom deadrise angle: 17 degrees
  • Displacement: 6,194 lbs (with engine)
  • Power options: 240 Hp to 300 HP
  • Fuel capacity: 58 gallons
  • RCD category: C for 8

See here for Four Winns Vista 255 listings.

Pros

  • A fast and efficient boat
  • Quick and easy steering
  • Safe and practical
  • Excellent cockpit
  • Quick and easy access engine
  • Plenty of hull colors to choose from

Cons

  • Impractical galley design
  • Some couples may find the forward double berth too small
  • Might not be tough enough to handle rough weather for long periods
  • Too many extras, many of which should ideally be standard items

5. CRANCHI Z35

CRANCHI Z35

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The Cranchi Z35 is a rare breed that falls in the mid-range sports-cruisers category. It is designed to have an open, sun-soaked cockpit with two spacious cockpits and twin diesel.

If you want a powerboat that will shine on a sunny day, this boat with a sociable cockpit will fit the bill. It has quite an impressive accommodation below decks. The well-proportioned cabins are built to have abundant storage and sleeping spaces to host adults for a few days or more.

The saloon has smart detailing and excellent headroom, too. The galley comes with plenty of storage, including cupboards and lockers that are lined in smooth GRP. The railings on the deck feature triple fender baskets on both sides of the foredeck. The guest cabin berth is large and has an infill cushion that transforms from a twin into a double berth.

Specs

  • Length: 37 ft 11 in
  • Beam: 11 ft 6 in
  • Draught: 2 ft 11 in
  • Fuel capacity: 131 gallons
  • Water capacity: 42 gallons
  • Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D4 260 HP
  • Top speed: 34 knots

Check here for listings.

Pros

  • Adequate space below decks
  • Brilliant cockpit
  • Attractive styling
  • Punchy performance
  • Good detailing and finish

Cons

  • Helm seat might be uncomfortable
  • Glare off the dash
  • Tight engine room access

What to Look for In a Power Boat – Buying Guide

You have three choices when it comes to buying a powerboat (or any boat for that matter). These include a custom-made boat, a brand new boat, and a used one (in good condition). Whatever your choice, there are a few fundamental considerations that you shouldn’t compromise on, as they will determine whether or not you will enjoy your investment.

The following are the important things to consider.

  • Engine accessibility: How easy is it to access the engine? Choose a boat with a readily accessible engine area to make it easy to reach the battery and check fluid levels.
  • Visibility: According to Rule 15 of the United States Coast Guard Navigation Rules, all powered vessels must keep out of the way of boats approaching from the starboard. The problem is that visibility isn’t always good from the helm station of some boats. And if you can’t see your forward starboard quadrant, you might collide with an oncoming boat or run into some problems. So make sure you choose a powerboat that provides adequate visibility from the helm. As much as possible, avoid boats with obstructions caused by permanent fixtures, windshield mullions, hardtop supports, bulkheads, and overhead brows.
  • Electronic needs: This is pretty straightforward. You want to choose a boat that has enough space for your entire electronics packages such as radar/chart plotter overlay, marine radio, radio tester, and a Wi-Fi and cellular range booster.
  • Customization: Owning a boat means having the ability to customize it or include upgrades. For this reason, it is best to choose one that offers flexible customization options. For example, can you add or detach furniture? Can you make an upgrade to the galley?

It is also helpful if you read reviews from boaters who already purchased the type of powerboat you intend to buy. There are a good number of online boating forums where you can find useful first-hand information from boat owners. Are they pleased with the specific model you want? What are their concerns and complaints?

Here’s one more thing to consider. If you are buying a new boat or dealing with a manufacturer, find out if they have a comprehensive after-sales service. You want to choose a manufacturer that will continue to maintain a one-on-one relationship and an open communication channel with clients.

If you are in the market for a powerboat for cruising with your family, consider one with comfortable cabin space. For boating in the tropics or hot regions, you will need a boat with air conditioning systems.  Consider ample seating, too, because cruising with family and friends is a lot more fun and enjoyable when everyone has a comfortable place to sit and relax on the deck.

If what you want is a powerboat for offshore fishing, consider a boat with angler-friendly storage. A spacious deck where you can cast unhindered is equally important, too. Pay attention to the hull design, as a deep V-shaped hull cuts better through rough waters. Lastly, consider getting a fuel-efficient powerboat for offshore fishing, as this will reduce expenses on fuel.

Choosing the Right Power Boat

Having a list of the best power boats and knowing what makes a good one will not be of much help if you can’t make up your mind on which type to get. As you probably already know, these boats come in a wide variety with a vast range of hull forms, construction materials, and plenty of options in terms of propulsion and power.

To help you decide on which powerboat is right for you, we’ve outlined some of the more common types and their best use. This is not a comprehensive list, though, and that’s because powerboats encompass so many boat types from the small 12-footer tender to the ocean-crossing crawler and every other thing in between. So, we’ve left out some categories such as hovercrafts, personal watercraft, and catamarans.

Essentially, we’ve cut down the list to include rapid monohulls that are a great starting point for any beginner boater looking for the best power boats that suit their needs.

1. Bowriders

A bowrider is a great choice if you want a powerboat with a compact platform and adequate lounging space upfront. The open bows make them particularly suitable for frolicking on sunny days.

Although bowriders have come to be known with a traditional shape that features tapered forward lines, other options that present a whole lot of newer and spacious formats are now available. The space ahead of the helm in the traditional bowrider is quite tight. To allow for more internal seating room, newer versions have beams that are further forward, but the trade-off is a little bit of the sporting ability and aesthetic appeal of the traditional shape.

A classic traditional bowrider is the Sea Ray 190 SPX, while newer formats include Bayliner Element XR7 and Interboat Neo 7.

Here are a few things to look for in a bowrider that can perform excellently well in water sports:

  • Extra cockpit seating
  • Powerful inboard engines
  • Automated throttle
  • Wakeboard towers
  • Wake-tweaking devices (e.g., fins, and ballast tanks)

2. Cabin Style Power Cruisers

If accommodation is topmost in the things you want in a powerboat, the cabin style power cruisers might be your best bet.

These powerboats fall into two broad categories:

  • The sporty craft – small design with compact cabins in the bow.
  • The people carrier – broader and more spacious designs with an emphasis on comfy accommodation rather than performance.

Whichever option that appeals to you, you need to consider convertible furniture to create more sleeping room. A galley at the top means more accommodation below deck. On the flip side, a cabin style powerboat with the galley below the decks creates more space at the sun deck for seating. So, make sure to choose an option that suits your accommodation needs.

Here’s a quick tip: if you are thinking of buying a cabin style powerboat as your first boat, you don’t have to break the bank to get a massive boat, even if you can. It is best to start with a smaller and cheaper option that is more efficient and manageable.

You would have learned how to operate a boat better and with more confidence in a short while. And using it for a season, you would be able to say for sure what shape and size work best for you.

3. RIBS

Some of the best power boats fall in the category of hard-hulled planing crafts with built-in inflatable collars. These are particularly suited for water sports, fishing, lounging, diving, and load carrying.

In the end, your intended usage, price, and size will determine what type of RIBS you buy, but it is important to note some of the options. RIBS constructed from Hypalon are last longer but are more expensive than PVC-constructed tubes. Your driving style will also come into play when you consider seating features, which include traditional jockey seats, leaning posts, benches, and impact-mitigation seats.

The power option depends a lot on the type of boater you consider yourself to be. So, before you choose a fit-out and hull shape, think about how you would typically use a powerboat.

4. Center Console Powerboats

When it comes to versatility, center console powerboats take the lead. You can use them for angling or even for taking your family on long smooth rides.

Select one with less built-in furniture and an emptier deck if these type of boats appeal to you. This way, you can add the furniture that matches your needs the most. Many center console powerboats have less weight due to the inclusion of only basic facilities, which means they cost a lot less than other options. Also, they generally tend to have greater running efficiency and more agile handling because they weigh less.

5. Sport Yacht

Sport yachts are the best power boats for traveling long distances. They are faster and sleeker than traditional yachts but come with spacious cabins for overnight and extended stays. If you intend to entertain guests, this category of powerboats would be your best option. They combine luxury and performance.

For those who want to be the party, consider getting one of these powerboats that come with a full galley or one with the option for convenient upgrades to modern kitchen facilities such as a good-quality boat grill.

6. Walkaround Fisher

Lastly, there’s the Walkaround Fisher category for those who prefer a “hybrid” powerboat of some sort. If you want a powerboat that does a bit of everything, consider getting a Walkaround Fisher. A good choice would be the compact Trophy 2152 Walkaround with a small cabin for fishing and water sports.

Choosing a powerboat can be quite daunting considering all the options available, but you don’t have to settle for less than what you want. You can be sure that there’s a boat out there that matches your need no matter what it is. Do not compromise on the features that work well for you. Study the boats on this list, and you’re sure to find one that suits you.

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