Above: The Ford F-150 pick up truck has been the best selling pickup truck in the United State since 1977. Photo by kenishirotie on Pond5.
The Ford F150 was America’s best-selling tow vehicle in 2020, and it’ll haul any of these five boats — each of which costs less than the truck itself.
The Ford F150 was not only America’s favorite tow vehicle in 2020, the F-series was actually the best-selling automobile overall. Well-outfitted, the average cost for an F150 ready to tow your boat to the lake or bay was right around $47,000. And while we would heartily endorse the notion of spending more on your boat than on any wheeled land vehicle, you could get any five of these cool new boats for less — and then hitch them up behind the truck and head directly for the boat ramp.
2021 Bayliner VR6 OB
Above: The 2021 Bayliner VR6 OB Bowrider boat is a great affordable family boat option. Photo: Bayliner via Union Marine in Fife, WA.
A traditionally styled bowrider powered by an outboard, the Bayliner VR6 OB gives you a ton of LOA for the $36,516 price tag. The price can be expected to build a bit from that starting point as you add your own personal must-have features (even items like interior lighting, a ski tow pylon, and the automatic bilge pump are considered optional) but you won’t even come close to the cost of that F150 and you’ll get a 22’4” runabout with the capacity to carry 10 people, an enclosed head compartment in the passenger’s side console, and a huge aft sunpad and swim platform.
It’s important to note that the new Bayliner VR line is wood-free and self-bailing, unlike some of the old Bayliner models you’ll see on the market. If you want the largest bowrider possible for the buck, this one will be a top option. It also enjoys what Bayliner calls the “AftAdvantage” design, which essentially boils down to incorporating very narrow gunwales which allow Bayliner to push the internal beam as far as possible out to the sides, increasing interior volume. This explains why the VR6 feels quite roomy inside even though it’s just 8’0” wide. Many other boats with this much LOA will have an 8’6” beam, but they won’t necessarily have any additional interior volume.
View Bayliner VR6 OB boats for sale on Boat Trader today.
2021 J/Boats J70 Speedster Sailboat
Above: Originally introduced back in 2012, the newest 2021 J/70 Speedster remains easy to trailer, rig and ramp launch, continuing the tradition that made this model the most prolific sportboat in the world. Photo: The Chandlery Yacht Sales in Santa Barbara, CA.
A top option for the sailors out there will be the J/Boats J70 Speedster, and although a brand-new boat will push a bit beyond the price tag of that average Ford F150, cost isn’t far out of the ballpark and if you’re willing to buy used you can pick up a boat with five or fewer years of age on it and stay well withing the mark. Critical to its mission, the J70 has a deck-stepped carbon mast and a vertical lifting keel, which means it’s easy to pack up and put on a trailer, and this model was designed specifically to be ramp-launched and towed behind vehicles just like the F150. But with a displacement of a mere 1,750 pounds that F150 probably won’t even know the boat is back there.
Features include padded backrests in the cockpit, lifelines, toe rails, a small cabin, and a 226’ sail area. The sail plan includes a roller-furling jib, a bowspirit, and a masthead gennaker. Note that this is one of the most popular sailboats on the water and is recognized as an international class, so competitors sailing these boats can enter racing events all across the nation.
View J/Boats J70 boats for sale on Boat Trader today.
2021 Lowe Stinger 175C
Above: Starting at $16,496 the Stinger 175C from Lowe Boats offers incredible multi-species functionality, loads of room to maneuver and premium components. Photo via The Sports Center in Perry, GA.
Anglers looking for a fishing boat that can serve multiple fisheries but keeps cost low will be checking out the Lowe Stinger 175C. Rigged with a stock 25-horsepower Mercury FourStroke and sitting atop a single axel bunk trailer with a swing-away tongue it lists at a mere $16,495. You could go with max power (a 75-hp FourStroke) and pay closer to $20K, or you could pocket all the cash you won’t be spending and your fuel budget will be covered for the next five years — for both the boat and the Ford.
The Stinger 175C has a maximum capacity of four anglers, and is laid out with a forward casting deck and pedestal seat that will work well for bass anglers. A 23-gallon livewell (with a lift-out bait bucket) lives in the aft deck, and is flanked by tackle stowage compartments for three boxes per side. There’s a second livewell with bait bucket in the bowdeck, too, which will be convenient for walleye and crappie fishing. Construction is all-welded aluminum (.100” gauge in the modified-V hull), with extruded gunwales and an extruded one-piece keel.
We ran this boat and with max power it broke 38-mph, but what really impressed us was the sporty handling; crank the wheel and the hull grips the water and carves out hair-pins with no problem. We also felt that the baked-on enamel paint job made the boat look far better than old-school aluminum rigs.
View Lowe Stinger 175C boats for sale on Boat Trader today.
2021 Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 XP3 Pontoon Boat
Above: Take the party up a notch while still having enough in your wallet to buy the snacks for everyone aboard with Sun Tracker’s Party Barge 24 XP3. Photo: Sun Tracker Boats via Port Harbor Marine in South Portland, ME.
If owning the ultimate pontoon party machine sounds like a fun way to get out on the water, the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 XP3 will be a must-see model. Equipped with a 150-horsepower Mercury 150 FourStroke, the list price of $40,795 leaves room in the budget for plenty of options. Importantly, note that this is a tri-toon model. Many builders tease you with a low price tag, then charge thousands more to get that extra log down the middle. And that third pontoon makes a big difference, too, boosting max capacity by 450 pounds and max horsepower to 250, improving handling and seakeeping abilities, and enhancing stability. Additional key features include an 11’ Bimini top, a Bazooka Party Bar Bluetooth stereo system, a 7’4” long in-deck wet-stowage compartment, and comfy multi-density foam in the four couches.
We tested a 24 XP3 with a 200-hp outboard, and found that top-end just broke 40-mph and the boat cruised easily in the low 30s. Where you really feel that center pontoon having an effect, however, is when you start carving out turns. Handling is much more predictable than it is with some pontoon boats, and in turns the boat doesn’t suffer from the common sideways-sliding feel some have.
View 2021 Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 XP3 pontoon boats for sale on Boat Trader today.
Above: The 2021 Yamaha Boats AR190 offers a “garage-ready” package. Photo: Yamaha Boats via BMC Boats in Longwood, FL.
With a starting MSRP of $33,149 and a jet drive below the waterline, the Yamaha AR190 will be a top propeller-free choice for boaters with young children who love watersports and fun in the sun. And, with a hull weight of 2,441 pounds, the AR190 will also be a piece of cake to launch, load, and tow. Layout is a straightforward bowrider design with a flip-back center windshield, a large in-deck stowage compartment for water skis and wakeboards, and a large swim platform with aft-facing seating molded in. The stock model isn’t stripped, either, with major features like a 4.3” Connext touchscreen helm control system, an aluminum tow-tower, snap-in carpet, a four-speaker Jensen stereo system, and a single axel trailer all included standard.
We’d always recommend a boater searching for a new ride take any potential purchase for a sea trial, to get a feeling for how it runs. But we can make one prediction right here, right now: you’re going to discover that the AR190 has sportier handling than any prop-driven boat you’ve ever had off the dock. The articulating keel system enhances control and at fast speeds the boat feels more or less as nimble as a big PWC. As is true with most jet boats, handling it at slow speeds can be a bit more challenging. But Yamaha outfits the AR190 with its “No Wake Mode” system for micro-managed control. The AR190 also has Cruise Assist (which is a cruise control system that allows you to set engine speed then increase or decrease it in small increments), which will be particularly handy when you’re towing the kids around the lake for hours on end. Another important detail to note about the AR190 is that sitting on its standard trailer, it’s a “garage-ready” package. The folding tongue brings overall length down to 19’5” while most garages are 20’ or 22’.
View Yamaha AR190 boats for sale on Boat Trader today.
5 Family Friendly Easily Towable Boats To Choose From
Which of these five options would be the best for you and your family? That, we can’t say. But one thing is for sure: when you hitch up to your F150 and hit the road with your boat in tow, everyone inside the truck’s cab will be grinning from ear to ear.
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