PontonbooteThey're known for being the best machines for parties on the water, but in reality they're that and a whole lot more. In many ways, pontoon boats are also the ultimate luxury on the water, they make ideal day cruisers, great water sports platforms and pontoon boats can even be converted into fishing boats. However, there is always thatto consider the issue of affordability.
What makes a pontoon boat affordable? That depends on your personal financial situation. So let's look at this from the perspective of the average American household, with an annual income of just over $60,000 and a typical entertainment budget of around $3,200 per year (2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, most recent data available).
Since we all know that nothing is quite as fun as playing on a boat, let's apply this monthly maintenance cost of about $266 to your boating options. Receive a $30,000 boat loan at 7 percent interest (which you can probably beat if you have good credit), 15 years with no down payment (you can use ourBoat Loan Calculatorto calculate exact payment amounts on various loan amounts and down payments).
Using this monthly spend as a cap, all 12 of these pontoons are considered affordable.
1. Bennington S 188 SL
IsBennington S 188 SLYou can have it with the 60hp outboard and still budget about $4,500 to add more accessories and upgrades. Not that you need to spend it, as the ship has plenty of comfortable seating (an L-shaped berth aft, a starboard settee, another double-width seat on the port bow, and a helm chair) available in two... tone Simtex vinyl; woven vinyl floors; a 10' bimini top; and a Kicker KMC45 stereo system.
The S 188 SL has a beam of 8 feet and a hull weight of just 1,663 pounds, so it's also easy to tow. Design advantages include below deck spray deflectors, extruded mudguards and solid rounded keels.
2. Berkshire 20CL LE
If you don't worry too much about top speed, you can go for a better, larger-than-average boat and get a relatively small engine, e.gBerkshire 20CL LEEquipped with a 25hp Suzuki outboard. This includes numerous perks including the premium vinyl package, a bimini top and trunk, a Kicker KMC45 stereo system and an instep cover. And with the Berkshire, you can customize the boat's interior and exterior color scheme to make it look exactly how you want it.
However, what makes this boat head and shoulders above the crowd is the construction. The 20 CL LE features the same honeycomb composite deck as Berkshire's much more expensive models, and they also outfit the 20 CL LE with stainless steel parts (cleats, railing stiffeners, drink holders, telescoping boarding ladder, etc.). ), which is usually only seen on more expensive sidepods or models that have been upgraded for saltwater use.
3. SunChaser Geneva Cruise 20 CRS
Most pontoon boats have plenty of seating, but that comes at the expense of deck space. If you want to have an open terrace in addition to the sofas and sun loungers, theGeneva cruise 20 CRS($29,883 with a 60hp Yamaha on the engine mount) will likely catch your eye.
This model features forward-facing settees and a large L-shaped saloon with aft dinette to port, but the starboard side remains fully open behind the helm chair. That means you'll have plenty of room to spread out while you pack up the tow toys for some fun or climb back on board after a swim in the lake. Added bonus: add the third tube and this boat can handle 200 hp, which greatly increases power and speed.
4. Crucero-Cypresse Cay C 171
Would you rather have a smaller boat packed with every imaginable option and accessory than a larger one with less glitz and glamour? Then it's time to check those outCypress Key C 171, which comes in at under $18,000 with a 50-hp Mercury FourStroke at the rear. That leaves plenty of room in the budget to tick off all the options.
The C 171 Cruise also offers a slightly different seating arrangement than usual, with a forward-facing sofa in the stern, pedestal seats for the helmsman and co-driver, and two sun loungers in the bow. So despite the relatively small size of this boat, all eight passengers still have a comfortable place to settle down.
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5. Selektor de sol 18F
Anglers will be interested in pontoons like thisSuncatcher Select 18F de G3-Bootewhich comes under our budget rod with a 70hp Yamaha F70 but comes with a variety of features for fishing and fun.
The aft fishing platform includes a built in livewell, pair of rod rests and four rod uprights; in the bow there are vertical racks for six more rods and reels; the fisherman's seats are on swivel bases; and the boat is pre-wired for a bow mounted electric trolling motor which can be added as an option without taking the price out of our range.
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6. Crucero Lowe Ultra 200
water sportsFans, dieCrucero Lowe Ultra 200it will be of great interest to you. You can hop on this spacious 21ft 4in boat and race across the reservoir with 115 horses in the stern, keeping the price down in the $24,000 range. That leaves more than enough money for towing with the bow. Optional ski plus a set of wakeboards, water skis and a tow rope.
And already included in the package you get an aft swim platform with a four-step boarding ladder, seating for 10 and a bimini top. Tell the kids to hold on, this will be fun.
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7. Manitou 20 Aurora LE
get thatManitou 20 Aurora LEA 40hp outboard puts the purchase price right on our affordability mark, but you also get a pontoon with some high-end features typically only found on much more expensive boats. Look at the helm and you'll see a digital display instead of those old analogue dials.
Try sitting on the seat and you will discover a super comfortable high back chair. Lift any of the sofa plinths and you will discover one-piece plinths with drainage channels on the edges of the storage bins. There's also an angler-friendly version, the Aurora LE Angler, which is in a very similar price range.
8. Misty Harbor Tour Del Mar U
Misty Harbor does list the prices of thetour guideWith no power (which stays with the dealer) for a hair over $21,000 for an 18-foot, that leaves plenty of cha-ching for an outboard in the 50- or 60-horsepower range.
And that sidepod has a standout feature that many affordable sidepods lack: four full-size reclining seats. Most models of this size use an L-shaped saloon at the stern with a run to the side. But the Del Mar U instead has a pair of opposing J-shaped berths with a center aisle, both bow and stern, in addition to helm and passenger chairs.
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9. Sylvan Mirage 8520 LZ
Can you find a pontoon boat that features the high quality details of more expensive models without breaking the bank? HeSylvan Mirage 8520 LZproves it's possible, with a starting MSRP of $33,147 with a 60-hp Mercury FourStroke.
The package includes some unexpectedly high-quality standard features such as docking lights, a four-speaker Jensen Bluetooth stereo system, Sea Weave flooring and a premium Torcello steering wheel. Add some sparkle to make this star shine even brighter by opting for Babitto under deck lights, lighted cup holders and underwater lights.
10. King of the Pond Champion
With an MSRP of $3,199, that isKing of the Champion Pondis the undisputed advocate of affordability. Strap on an electric motor or outboard motor of up to 3.5 horsepower and you're ready to roam the pond for bass and crappie. This 10-foot boat features seating for two, a 650-pound weight capacity, a 4'7-inch deck beam and a 6-inch guardrail.
There are many extras you can add, from cup holders to a duck blind, and considering how affordable this mini pontoon is, you can add every single one and never spend even half your allotted budget.
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11. Princecraft BrioE 17
If you live on or near a lake that doesn't allow gasoline engines, or you simply want the lowest carbon footprint, thePrincecraft BrioE 17belongs on your shortlist. Powered by a 2,000-watt Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 electric outboard (comparable to a five-horsepower petrol engine), speeds will be smooth and range limited, but cruising won't be greener.
The base price is just over $13,000, but add $8,000 to get the pair of 24-volt solar panels. Aside from the propulsion system, the BrioE 17 is pretty much like any other 'normal' pontoon, with a couple of large settees to port and a smaller set and helm station with driver's seat to starboard.
12. Sun Tracker Party Barcaza 20 DLX
Pontoon riders who enjoy cruising the lake one day and hitting the bay the next will want to see thisSun Tracker Party Barcaza 20 DLX, available in a complete boat, motor and trailer package for a few thousand dollars under our maximum. That also gives her a 90hp Mercury FourStroke so this boat isn't far behind and you can expect to be cruising at speeds approaching 30 MPH.
The trailer is a two-axle flatbed truck with brakes and a front boarding ladder. Seating includes an L-shaped sofa/sofa/lounge layout, as well as a helm chair with added comfort provided by 26-ounce padding over multi-density foam padding. Unique Advantage Alert: Party Barge 20 DLX has a wheelchair accessible access door.
So there you have it: 10 affordable pontoons the average American family can get without breaking the bank. On the other hand, if money is no object...
Bonus Budget Buster: Premier Escalante
If your idea of "affordable" is to spend as much as the median cost of a house in the US from A on your boat, you'll probably be interested in an early pontoon like the 31'4" long, 10'0" wide Premier Escalante. The starting price is $146,800, but that's before you load up to 800 full horsepower into the transom mirrors and start adding options and accessories.
Highlights of this two-story pontoon palace include a 12-foot-tall second-level deck with seating and a waterslide, a fully vertical hardtail changing table/head compartment, and an entertainment center with sink, refrigerator, wine cooler, and glass jar.
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Continue reading: Buying a pontoon: step-by-step guide
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