With the summer heat rolling in, it’s now time for boating and wave-riding. Or maybe it’s time for bow-riding. Boating is a favorite pastime for many people around the country and the world, not least of all because of the variety of fun activities one can do once they have one. But not every type of commercially available boat has all the features you could want, and some are too expensive to be worth it for most people.
Knowing all of this, it is hard to see a better option for summer fun on the water than a bowrider. Bowriders give you the option to do any of the water activities any other speed boat can, or none of them. They also offer the front-facing lounging space of something like a pontoon boat. Best of all, some bowriders are relatively inexpensive for what they are.
It is possible to get a bowrider boat for under $40K, even. The issue with this comes down to a question of quality. Not all bowrider boats are the same, and not all are worth $40K in the first place. So what is the best bowrider for under $40K on the market as of 2021?
In terms of overall quality and performance, overall bang for your buck, it is hard to top the Glastron GT 180. While not the largest bowrider on the market, it does have plenty of seating space and sits level in the water even with several passengers aboard and riding at full speed. It is also significantly below $40K even when brand new, a great choice for a boat lover on a budget.
One of the best features of Glastron 180 is its fuel capacity. For a boat that is only 20 or so feet from end to end, its fuel tank holds a total of 24 gallons. Considering the speed and fuel consumption, this means you can reliably get a significant amount of use out of a single tank of fuel.
The Glastron can comfortably seat 8 passengers, and can safely reach its top speeds so long as its total weight capacity remains under 1,800 pounds.
This is plenty for 8 people and their belongings, along with at least a couple of coolers of ice and refreshments for a day on the water. The seating for those 8 people is also anything but cramped, with room for two built-in coolers and ski racks along with a tow line.
In addition to these fun features, the Glastron 180 also offers a range of options in both color and other features for no additional charge.
You have the choice of Savannah Sand or Ebony for your interior colors or white, Platinum Gray, black, or Denim Blue for the exterior colors. Even buying new and matching these specifications, the cost of a Glastron 180 is still well under the $40K price point.
In terms of sheer size and capacity, the Chris-Craft 25 GT is the best pick out there. Despite the 25 in the name, the boat is in reality 26’8 feet long. These measurements are large enough for the boat to take on extra passengers, but not so large that it needs special treatment or an extra-wide berth at the marina. In this way, it is not necessarily the absolute largest bowrider boat on the market, but it is the best choice for most people for whom size is a necessity.
The Chris-Craft bowrider can comfortably carry up to 10 people and still safely reach its top speed. That is a party in and of itself. That recommendation also leaves room for a comfortable amount of floor space both in the front and back seating areas. The plush seats and a multi-direction sunpad ensure that your travels and celebrations aboard this boat are as breezy and comfortable as possible.
The Chris-Craft offers beauty and comfort in one not-so-small package. The entire boat comes with stainless steel trim and a variety of customizable interior and exterior colors on request. Many of these features can cost extra, which will bring the overall cost above the $40K price point, but it makes up for it with sheer size and capacity.
If what you want is an afternoon of fun on the water rather than relaxation, the Chris-Craft still has you covered. The boat comes with a ski rack and tow line. It also has a “killer stereo system,” as the manufacturer puts it. All and all, this is one of the better bowrider boats on the market at any price, especially for under $40K.
In terms of raw power, look no further than the Four Wins Horizon Bowrider for under $40K. This boat blends the horsepower and speed of a sport boat with the comfort of a leisurely boat. It is not the biggest, nor does it have all of the best features, but it is one of the few boats of any kind you can find that can reach barefooting speeds while carrying enough people to properly appreciate it.
The Four Wins Horizon has a 270 horsepower engine and can reach top speeds of 40mph. This is why the seats have buckles, but we can assure you that it is plenty safe enough to ride along even without them. The boat achieves its speeds by being streamlined and light in the water, so it is probably best to keep the weight evenly distributed while driving. That said, the Four Wins Horizon is a boat designed more for sport than relaxation, and it more than delivers.
At 19 feet, it has a capacity of only 6 to 8 passengers, depending on how fast you want to go, but even while fully stocked it is still a great boat to ride. After all, what is the point of a bowrider if you can’t sit on the bow and feel the spray of the water as you speed along?
In terms of price, this one will cost closer to the full $40K price point. Powerful boat engines are not cheap on their own, let alone as part of the whole boat. But the Four Wins Horizon is absolutely worth the money if only for the opportunity to speed along the waves without breaking the bank too badly.
Our Top Pick
Our overall top pick for the best bowrider boat under $40K has to be the Glastron GT 180 for a plethora of reasons. Not only does it have all of the features we mentioned above, but considerably more. The fuel capacity and speed are nice to have, but the Glastron also has enough seating and versatile floor space to rival even significantly larger and more expensive boats.
While it does not have the same horsepower as the Four Wins Horizon, the Glastron can still wear its 150 horsepower engine with pride. You can carry 8 passengers at high speeds across favorable waters while skiing or tubing or just riding for its own sake.
While riding, take comfort in both the intuitive pull-knobs and deluxe tilting steering wheel to ensure safe and responsive control over your boat. If all else fails, it even has an emergency engine shut-off.
Speaking of deluxe tilting, you will find more of that below deck. Most boats at this price point do not even have an accessible hull, let alone bunks. Not only does the Glastron 180 have bunks below deck, but those bunks are fixed in such a way that they remain centered even when the boat is not.
Self-centering bunks are a complex concept in and of themselves, but suffice to say that anyone who needs to sleep badly enough to do it on a speedboat will be glad to have them.
In fairness, the bunks and hull make for a somewhat claustrophobic experience, even with the self-centering feature. What is not claustrophobic is the above-deck seating.
The sleek forward-facing seats behind the captain’s chair and the inward-facing seats riding the bow are designed for comfort and easy cleaning. The covering is non-absorbent and many owners simply clean them with a hose most of the time.
While you are riding along in your comfortable seats, you may choose to listen to something other than the purr of your Glastron’s 150 horsepower engine. This is why these boats also come equipped with a Bluetooth auxiliary port, AM/FM radio, stereo, and dual speakers all in one package. Blast music across the entire lake if you want, now you can.
For other forms of entertainment, or more likely for safety, compartments under the seats have room for life vests and other necessities.
The captain’s cockpit also has a large glove compartment and side wall storage compartment. There is plenty of room for both necessities and niceties aboard the Glastron 180. For drinks and snacks, there is a built-in under-bench cooler and several beverage holders on and between the seats.
When it comes to activities, the boat comes with a fiberglass ski locker and side-mounted hooks attached to the awning for whatever watersports you choose. The rear of the boat also has a built-in swim platform for letting people back on after a fall or simply for swimming.