Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Review
Sun Tracker’s Bass Buggy line of pontoon boats has been a hit with anglers for years now and their latest model keeps the trend going with some great features and a great value.
What Is it?
You can tell with a name like “Bass Buggy” that we’re not dealing with something like a ski boat here. This is one the longest lived model lines in the pontoon boat world and they’ve been around for over a decade at this point which speaks to the model popularity. For some that’s a mystery since the Bass Buggy is not blazing a trail through the water at all, but that’s kind of the point. If you’re not an angler, this is not going to be the pontoon for you. But if you do want a comfortable, reliable and well made boat to make your fishing trips more enjoyable, this is the gold standard.
The Bass Buggy is a fishing boat and that means features to make any angler happy when they’re on the lake. Here are some of the Bass Buggy’s standouts.
- Sun Tracker’s 10+LIFE™ Limited Lifetime Warranty. That means 10-year bow to stern for factory workmanship and materials including live wells, electrical, plumbing, furniture, the whole deal. It also covers pontoon logs, motor pod and structural elements for the life of the boat.
- 7’ polyester Bimini top with protective boot, adjusting straps and a Quicklift Bimini deployment system
- Nylon gate latches and heavy duty hinges. The gates provide quick access and are easy to use
- Anchor and navigation lights
- Marine grade flooring
- Fire extinguisher
- Wraparound tinted windscreen
- Plenty of storage space
- Aft platform for swimming with stainless-steel telescopic fold down reboarding ladder and grab rails
- Forward console 9-gallon live well with padded cushion
- Vertical rod holder located at the console
- Bow fishing deck w/2 removable folding dual bow fishing chairs
- Port wheelchair-access gate
- Sound- & vibration-deadening fence insulation for a quiet ride
- Rotomolded couches and Fishing seats w/Diamante Pepper accent
Optional fishing package also includes:
- Lowrance HOOK2 4x fishfinder w/Bullet
- Snapless mooring cover
- Minn Kota PowerDrive 12V, 55-lb. (24.95 kg) thrust, 54″ (1.37 m) shaft, foot-control trolling motor w/quick-release bracket (does not include trolling battery & dealer installation)
- 18’5” overall length
- 8’ beam
- Dry weight of 1,310 lbs
- Maximum capacity of 7 people or 1,090 lbs
- Maximum total weight of 1,550 lbs
- 6 gallon fuel tank
- 20 ELPT Mercury FourStroke or 50 ELPT Mercury FourStroke engine
- Pontoons are super popular with anglers but not a lot of of them are designed specifically with fishing in mind which makes the rod holder, fishing chairs and live well found here really welcome additions
- The trolling motor add on is a great and arguably invaluable feature for anglers
- Incredible price compared to many other more generic pontoons
- Great stability when on deck and also good cover from the elements
- Lots of room for fishing and you can kit it out so you can grill up what you catch right there on deck if you’re smart about it.
- Wheelchair access and super stable platform deck make this boat ideal when you have smaller, children, the elderly and anyone with mobility and balance issues
- A dedicated fishing boat is great, but a little more power or versatility could go a long way to giving the Bass Buggy broader appeal. There is an 18 model with better engine options, but you’re obviously bumping up the price bracket at that point.
- There’s a lot of surface area on a Bass Buggy, especially when the Bimini top is deployed. The wind can really wreak havoc on a pontoon that you’re trying to keep still, and you may find you need to adjust your position more than you’d like on a breezy day.
- Lots of rumors of issues getting service if and when something goes wrong as dealers tend to be the go to for repairs rather than the manufacturer.
- You may want to invest in some rubber mats depending on what kind of fish you plan on hauling in, just to keep your deck free from slime
What You Need to Know
The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL starts at a very reasonable $18,000 straight from Sun Tracker and you can tack on $2,000 if you want to bump up the engine power. Throw in the added fishing package and it’s another $1,400. They even offer some trailer options with additional charges for a standalone trailer purchase. You can get a fully kitted out fishing pontoon for under $26,000 which is still under what a lot of other base models have to offer.
Now, the trade off for this being a great fishing boat is that it’s not a sport boat by any stretch of the imagination and absolutely does not have the power to offer that versatility. With the smaller engine you’ll probably be tooling along at around 15 mph, give or take. This is meant for leisure times and that is all, so keep that in mind.
The live well is a good size and the seating is comfortable for spending long hours on the water, plus the rod holder makes for a great convenience. I have to say one of the most incredible features that’s really overlooked because it only applies to a small number of boats is the wheelchair access door. If you have someone in your family in a wheelchair you’ll know just how limiting that can be when it comes to leisure activity, so a big thumbs up to Sun Tracker for designing the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XLto accommodate everyone regardless of mobility.
Because the engine is not a powerhouse, the onboard fuel tank is pretty small but it should really be ample for a fishing trip. When you are in motion, the boat is incredibly well balanced to make it a smooth, even and surprisingly quiet ride.
What People Are Saying
Most boaters and anglers are pretty happy with this Sun Tracker model but they’re not without their flaws. Over the years, electrical issues have been a not uncommon complaint. Not that they are super common, either, but issues getting the live well to work or with wiring have come up for some.
Another issue for some owners is Sun Tracker service. Dealerships tend to deal with most of the issues before Sun Tracker will take over and some dealers seem to be not entirely familiar with the product and all of its features.. For that reason I’d recommend not just thoroughly researching the pontoon, but the seller as well. Make sure you’re trusting a dealer who has experience and a customer service track record that can offer you peace of mind.
It’s a common refrain from those who have issues with Sun Tracker Bass Buggies that getting them fixed is an uphill battle. That said, it’s still the minority of boats that do have issues so don’t think these are notoriously unreliable boats, because they’re not. In fact, most owners have generally good things to say and the boats are highly recommended by those who use them.
There are no serious stand out issues with Sun Tracker’s Bass Buggy line and that’s part of the reason these have been around for so many years now. Not everyone wants a fast and furious ride on the water, or a pontoon that struggles to achieve that goal. Sometimes less is more and the Bass Buggy 16 XL lives up to its promise for most boaters.
Do We Recommend It?
I’d definitely recommend a Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL for anglers as long as you know what you’re getting into it. Because these boats take leisure to heart, they do not offer the oomph even a casual boater might want or expect. A solid boat for a very relaxed fisherman or perhaps older anglers who have stability and balance issues and don’t want or need anything that is going to be too intense. That said, if you want an incredibly value priced fishing boat that lives up to the promise of getting you on the water and being a comfortable ride while you fish, you probably can’t beat the Bass Buggy 16 XL. With a live well, fishing chairs and rod storage, this boat does a good job.
The slightly larger Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 18 DLX may be a serious option for those who wanted a bigger boat with some more options and more power if this doesn’t seem to be checking the right boxes for you.
For the price, and for its intended use, the Bass Buggy 16 XL is a great option to while away some hours on the lake doing just what the name suggests, catching bass. If you want something with more options for family fun or speed, I’d recommend looking somewhere else.
Categories: Pontoon Boats