Welcome to 2021 everyone, we’re all hoping it’s a big improvement over 2020 and we can put issues like boating during COVID-19 and boat show cancellations behind us. The best news? There are as many great new affordable boat models hitting the water as ever before.
Normally, we’d recommend you check them out at the boat shows, but since this spring we’ll still be feeling the effects of the pandemic and going to boat shows isn’t yet in the cards, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at 12 top new boats under $21,000 for 2021.
1. Bayliner Element M15
When Bayliner introduced the Element line a few years back, it was hailed as one of the most unique new model introductions in the affordable boat market in decades. For 2021, they’re making another and possibly even bigger splash, with the all-new M15. This is essentially a mini-deckboat, stretching the tape to 15’2” long and 6’7” wide yet providing enough space and seating for five people.
Like other Elements it features Bayliner’s extremely stable M-hull hull design, and it’s packaged with a 40-horsepower Mercury outboard and a single-axel trailer with a swing-away tongue for a jaw-dropping starting price of $13,999. That means this is the most affordable boat in our round-up, and its small, simple nature means this may also be one of the easiest new boats for an inexperienced mariner to buy, run, and maintain all on his or her own. Plus, its diminutive nature means this entire rig is garage-ready and easy to pack away between weekends.
Visit Bayliner to learn more.
2. Carolina Skiff 162 JLS
Most people think that getting a fiberglass bay boat would be expensive, but Carolina Skiff proves that doesn’t have to be the case with their new 162 JLS, which starts at $18,972 with a 60-horsepower Suzuki DF60ATL3 on the transom. For the 2021 model year the 162 JLS has a modified-V hull and a full inner-liner, which is a serious change from old-school Carolina Skiffs and delivers a smoother ride as well as better fit and finish.
Plus, the boat comes with plenty of features like an 18-gallon livewell, six flush-mount console rodholders, under-gunwale rodracks, molded in bow stowage compartments, an aft swim platform with telescopic ladder, LED bow and stern lights, and a battery switch.
Visit Carolina Skiff to learn more.
3. Crestliner 1650 Fish Hawk
Just last year Crestliner redesigned their epically popular Fish Hawk series and introduced the 1650, and for 2021 you can get into a new Fish Hawk in a shockingly affordably way with the $18,583 Fish Hawk 1650 SE. This model has an aft livewell, a rodbox in the center of the bow and racks along the port gunwale, two pedestal seats and four pedestal bases, and multiple stowage compartments built into the bow and stern decks.
The package includes a 50-horsepower Mercury and a trailer, and while the boat itself may not be as packed with bling as some more expensive models, the 1650 SE still has the low-maintenance, well-built construction that Crestliner is known for: an all-welded aluminum hull with a variable-degree deadrise, a full-length extruded keel, reverse chine extrusions with a full-length spray deflector, and slick-looking baked-on Armor-Guard paint.
Visit Crestliner to learn more.
4. Legend 15 Angler
This year you can get into a Legend 15 Angler for $18,999 with a 25-horsepower Mercury ELPT four-stroke outboard and a Glide-on trailer, and this boat offers something few competitors match: a hull thickness of 0.100-gauge aluminum. Most 15-footers have thinner skins, often to the tune of 10- to 20-percent thinner.
This boat is also packaged in loaded-to-the-gills form, with a Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 color fishfinder, a 15-gallon bow livewell, two adjustable rodholders, and a swing-away tongue and guide bunks on the trailer.
Added bonus: you could upgrade the 25-horse powerplant to a 30 HP model, and still come in under the $21,000 mark.
Visit Legend to learn more.
5. AB Inflatables Mares 11VSX
Price: $20,244 with 30 HP (recommended), or $20,659 with 40 HP (maximum)
If your idea of a cool boat is a compact RIB (rigid inflatable boat) constructed with a durable, lightweight fiberglass console that’s not only practical, but comfortable, the all-new 2021 Mares 11VSX should be on your short-list. You’ll have no problem staying on budget with this one, and the single unit fiberglass deck makes for quiet navigation, easy maintenance, and increased longevity.
Additional key features include a convenient removable lateral seat as standard, plus a four-person capacity that leaves plenty of leftover space for storing carry-ons, fishing gear, and dive equipment.
Visit AB Inflatables to learn more.
6. Lowe Legacy
Lowe greets 2021 by rolling out the $16,995 Legacy, a 50th anniversary model that reflects this company’s long history of building straightforward aluminum fishing boats. This is an all-welded boat designed to take on a multitude of freshwater species ranging from bass to bream, with a huge 30-gallon livewell in the bow, two pedestal fishing seats, a MotorGuide X3 electric trolling motor, and rodboxes for five rigs.
But the Legacy lives in the modern age, with 2021 perks like a cell phone holder, a 12-v power outlet, and a Lowrance Hook2 4X fishfinder at the helm. The base package has plenty of juice, too, thanks to a standard 60-horsepower Mercury FourStroke. And if you want more power that’s not a problem—upgrading to a 90 HP Mercury brings cost to $18,795, still well under the $21,000 barrier.
Visit Lowe Boats to learn more.
7. Sea-Doo GTX Limited 300
The world of personal watercraft is changing, and for 2021 Sea-Doo gives a serious tech-injection to the GTX Limited 300. Listing at $17,999 this model has a new 7.8-inch panoramic color display in the dash which can be paired with your phone via Bluetooth. That means you can now see maps and weather, utilize vehicle-optimized smartphone apps, and push your favorite tunes from your phone to the waterproof integrated stereo system.
Also new for 2021 on this model is the iDF Intelligent Debris Free Pump System, which allows you to un-clog the water intake at the press of a button. And yes, on top of these new features the GTX Limited 300 still has the biggest PWC swim platform around, 300 Rotax horsepower, and a three-rider capacity.
Visit Sea-Doo to learn more.
8. SunChaser Vista 20 LR
With an MSRP sitting just under the $20,000 mark and a length overall of 20’11”, the SunChaser Vista 20 LR represents one of the best bang-for-your-buck per LOA of pontoon boat deals around. In fact, with a max capacity of nine people and 1,840 pounds, it represents one of the best bang-for-your-buck per pontoon passenger deals, too. That price tag includes a 40-horsepower Yamaha outboard and also brings standard perks like Sea Weave flooring and a Bimini top.
The real stand-out feature, however, may be SunChaser’s “Lifetime 6” warranty. It includes a limited lifetime warranty on the hull and structure plus a six-year warranty on all components, carpet, upholstery, and electronics, covers both parts and labor, and is transferrable to a second owner—that kind of coverage is very hard to beat.
Visit SunChaser to learn more.
9. Tahoe T16
In 2019, Tahoe first introduced the T16, bringing one of the most affordable boats of its kind to the marketplace. For 2021 they’ve upped the ante, revisiting the T16 and adding non-skid mats and—the kids will love this one—a Kicker KMC1 AM/FM/Bluetooth stereo system with USB input and two speakers.
The boat starts at a national “no haggle, no hassle” price of $17,495, and comes rigged with a 60-horsepower Mercury FourStroke plus a bunk trailer with a fold-away tongue that reduces storage space to 19 feet overall. Add $1,600 to that number and you can upgrade to a 75 HP engine, still stay well within budget, and park this sweet little rig in your garage or under your carport.
Visit Tahoe to learn more.
10. Tracker Grizzly 1754 SC
While this design might not be unfamiliar to Tracker fans, the construction certainly is. Starting for 2021, the Grizzley 1754 SC now has a two-piece 0.100-gauge 5052 marine-grade aluminum hull. Add in the box-beam transom with corner braces, extruded aluminum gunwales, 0.190-gauge deck, and the baked-on Sure Tread finish, and this boat is simply better built than ever before.
Plus, the new seats on the Grizzley 1754 SC are TureTimber camo so this rig can do double-duty as a hunting boat, as well as a fishing machine. List cost sits at $15,295 with a 40-horsepower Mercury outboard and a trailer.
Visit Tracker Boats to learn more.
11. Xpress Hyper-Lift H17
Price: $23,995, if you opt for a 90 HP max (but we believe with a different powerplant option, you'll get it under the $21K mark)
Xpress ups its game for 2021 with the introduction of the H17 with a Hyper-Lift hull, which includes a padded hull design that offers some serious get-up-and-go. In fact, if you opt for the 90-horsepower max (which does push price above our $21,000 mark a bit, hitting $23,995), this boat can run in the mid-40s and cruise casually at over 30 MPH.
Note that this boat also comes loaded with surprise features that few builders would include as standards, like a SeaDek liner, a two-bank battery charger (complementing the Minn Kota 45 Edge trolling motor), your choice of five different hull colors, and aluminum wheels on the single-axel trailer.
Visit Xpress Boats to learn more.
12. Yamaha Superjet
For 2021, Yamaha rolls out an all-new PWC for stand-up riders, the SuperJet. Until recently reserved for professional riders, stand-ups are back and the SuperJet features Yamaha’s 1,049cc four-stroke TR-1 engine, a 144mm high-pressure waterjet, and an adjustable three-position handle pole.
Net result? Although this is a boat that you can only ride alone, speeds north of 50 MPH on a platform of just under eight feet means you’ll be grinning from ear to ear from the moment you hit the throttle. You’ll also be grinning when you learn that the price tag for this little box of thrills is just $9,499.
Visit Yamaha Watercraft to learn more.
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Editor's Note: Prices are updated as of last date of publish; Jan. 21, 2021.