Just what constitutes affordable is debatable, and truth be told the most affordable way to enjoy a day on a center rent a boat rather than purchase one. That said, most of us could agree that a center console that costs less than the average price of a new car (around $50,000) qualifies as affordable in today’s marketplace.
Using that bar, these picks all belong on our list of the 10 most affordable center console boats:
- Bayliner T18 Bay
- Carolina Skiff 192 JLS
- Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC
- May Craft 1900 CC
- Parker 1801 CC
- Ranger RB 200
- Robalo R180
- Sea Pro 172 Bay
- Scout 195 Sportfish
- Tracker Grizzly 2072 CC
1. Bayliner T18 Bay
Bayliner brought their Trophy This gives it an M-like shape when viewed from the front, hence the name, and it delivers better stability than a standard-issue V-hull. On top of that, the T18 Bay comes packaged with a 90-horsepower Mercury FourStroke outboard and a single-axel galvanized trailer.
Visit Bayliner Boats to learn more.
2. Carolina Skiff 192 JLS
Carolina Skiffs doesn’t publish pricing, so we don’t have a hard number for the 192 JLS, but shop around, and you’ll see that most sell for below the $40,00 mark even when rigged with the maximum 140 horsepower outboard.
The boat has all the angling basics like an 18-gallon aft livewell, six rodholders, and fore and aft casting decks. Plus it has a few perks you might not expect to find on a budget boat, like a stainless-steel steering wheel, Teleflex No-Feedback steering, and a fuel/water separator.
But one of the biggest reasons many anglers gravitate to this choice is the svelte six-inch draft. If you enjoy fishing in the shallows, this Carolina Skiff can probe backwaters and flats with the best of them.
Visit Carolina Skiff to learn more.
3. Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC
The Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC earned a spot on our list of the 10 Best Center Console Boats, in part because of its easy affordability (even fully loaded, it stays under the $30,000 mark). But, just what do you get for the low dollar amount?
Plus, this boat is built on Mako’s “Inverted-V” hull design, which delivers excellent stability and smooths out the bumps in a chop. Add it all up, and the Mako Pro Skiff 17 CC isn’t merely an affordable center console, it’s also one that delivers an extraordinary bang for your buck.
Visit Mako Boats to learn more.
4. May Craft 1900 CC
May Craft builds straightforward boats, and the 1900 CC is one of the most popular models among anglers. Max horsepower is 140 and matched with a 52-gallon fuel capacity, which means this boat has substantially more range than many fiberglass center consoles of the same size.
5. Parker 1801 CC
The Parker 1801 CC may be this builder’s smallest model, but they build it just like their bigger boats. There’s an anodized aluminum leaning post (with a backrest and three rocket launchers) rather than a cooler seat at the Parkers are fishing machines from Visit Parker Boats to learn more.
6. Ranger RB200
Aluminum boats generally cost a hair less than fiberglass boats in the 20-foot class, and that’s one reason why Ranger can deliver the 20’10” long, 8’ wide RB200 (the second largest in this roundup) in the $45,000 range with the max-power 150 L Pro XS FourStroke on the his is a fully featured boat, too, and it has a long list of standards, including big-ticket items that other builders often consider cost-adding options, like an 80-pound-thrust Minn Kota Riptide electric trolling motor, an Visit Ranger Boats to learn more.
7. Robalo R180
The smallest boat Robalo makes is the R180, but this is a beefy 18-footer which tips the scales at 2,625 pounds and carries up to 150 horsepower on the transom. Starting around $5,000 under our price ceiling, there’s room to add options, but the stock package includes critical items like a 115-hp outboard and a single-axel aluminum trailer with disc brakes and a swing-away tongue.
Also, note that the hull has an 18-degree deadrise (relatively steep for a boat of this size) that helps it chop through waves. It also has very tall gunwales, so it’s likely to be favored by family anglers who plan to go out in a breeze or take young children fishing.
Visit Robalo Boats for more information.
8. Sea Pro 172 Bay
Sea Pro doesn’t publish MSRP, but if you shop around, you’ll see the 172 Bay ranging mostly from the mid- to upper-30s.
This is an incredibly popular model, and it comes with some surprisingly techy features like Simrad touchscreen electronics, an Audison Audio package, and the Sea Pro Connect by Boat Fix (which provides 24/7 monitoring and GPS tracking). Plus, the 172 Bay offers zippy performance and breaks 40-mph with just 90 horses on the transom.
Visit Sea Pro Boats to learn more.
9. Scout 195 Sportfish
Scout Boats has a reputation for building top-tier center consoles, and the 195 Sportfish allows you to step into a high-end center console that prices out just under our bar. This boat’s roomier than most in our roundup because, along with the 19’5” length, it has an 8’6” It comes with a molded fiberglass leaning post as opposed to the more common swing-back cooler seats seen on some affordable boats, and features aft jump seats plus a forward casting deck. Get it with the maximum 150 horses, and it’s also quite exhilarating to run, with a cruising speed in the mid-30s and a top end that hits 49 mph.
Visit Scout Boats to learn more.
10. Tracker Grizzly 2072 CC
Tracker doesn’t make many center consoles, but their Grizzly 2072 CC is essentially a giant aluminum Jon boat with a center console and a 115-hp Mercury on the back. It comes with a matched trailer and doesn’t get far north of the $31,000 mark.
With a welded 0.10” aluminum hull and a 0.19” deck it’s as rugged as aluminum center consoles come. It’s also quite roomy and has the largest footprint of the boats in this roundup, with a 21’5” length overall and an 8’3” beam. Highlights include twin livewells (nine and 32 gallons), vertical rod holders on the console, bow and stern decks with seat base pedestal mounts, and a Sure Tread nonslip interior.
Visit Tracker Boats to learn more.
We can’t say what your own family budget is, nor what you personally consider affordable. But in the world of modern center consoles, each of these picks delivers unusual value for the dollars spent and deserves to earn its spot on our list of the 10 most affordable center console boats.
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With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.