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Runabout Boats For Sale: Your Ultimate Guide to Buying One

Runabout boats are versatile watercraft designed for fun and relaxation on the water. These boats are typically driven by either sterndrive or outboard power and offer a comfortable platform for various recreational activities, such as fishing, water sports, or just lounging with friends and family. Due to their popularity, there is a wide range of new and used runabout boats for sale, catering to diverse preferences and budgets.

When looking for a runabout boat, potential buyers should consider factors such as size, engine type, and desired features to find the perfect boat for their needs. Prices can vary significantly, with more affordable options starting around $8,784, and advanced vessels reaching up to $604,476, as found on YachtWorld. It is important to keep in mind the additional costs of ownership, including maintenance, insurance, and storage, when determining one's budget.

Several resources are available for those interested in purchasing a runabout boat, including online platforms such as Boat Trader, YachtWorld, and These websites offer extensive listings featuring both new and used runabout boats, making it easier for buyers to compare options and find the ideal boat that meets their preferences and budget constraints.

Overview of Runabout Boats

Runabout boats are versatile and popular vessels designed for a wide range of recreational activities, from watersports to leisurely cruising. They typically have open bows, which allow for additional seating and easy access to the water. To provide a comprehensive understanding of the various aspects of runabout boats, this section will focus on hull types, seating capacity, and average beam.

Hull Types

Runabout boats often come in different hull designs, each suited for specific purposes and water conditions. Some common hull types found in runabouts are:

  • Modified Vee: This design offers a smoother ride in moderate to rough water conditions and provides good handling and stability. It's perfect for common recreational activities such as fishing and cruising.
  • Deep Vee: With a steep and sharp entry angle, the deep vee hull offers excellent performance in rough water conditions. This type of hull is commonly found in high-performance runabouts, making it ideal for watersports and high-speed cruising.
  • Sea-V2(Tm): This innovative hull design from Grady-White combines the benefits of both modified vee and deep vee hull types. The Sea-V2(Tm) design offers a smoother, more comfortable ride and is perfect for all types of boating activities.
  • RIB: Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) are runabouts with inflatable pontoons, which provide added buoyancy and stability. RIBs offer a smooth ride in various water conditions and are easy to maneuver because of their lightweight construction.

Seating Capacity

The seating capacity of runabouts can vary depending on the size and design of the boat. Generally, smaller runabouts can comfortably accommodate 4 to 5 passengers, while larger models provide seating for up to 8 or more people. It's essential to consider the boat's seating capacity and intended use when choosing a runabout for your recreational boating needs.

Average Beam

The beam of a runabout boat refers to its width at the widest point. The average beam of runabouts ranges from 7 to 9 feet, with larger models boasting wider beams for added stability and interior space. A wider beam typically provides more room for passengers and extra storage, while a narrower beam offers better handling and agility on the water.

Overall, runabout boats cater to a broad spectrum of boating activities and preferences. With various hull types, seating capacities, and beam sizes, there is a runabout boat available for every type of boater.

Popular Runabout Boat Brands

When looking for the perfect runabout boat, there are several popular brands known for their quality and performance. These brands offer a variety of models to suit the unique needs of boat enthusiasts. Here, we'll discuss some of the top runabout boat brands available in the market.

Sea Ray is a well-known brand for producing stylish and innovative boats. Among their lineup, the Sea Ray SLX 350 stands out for offering maximum capacity and advanced technology, making it an ideal option for those looking for a comfortable and spacious runabout.

Bayliner is another popular brand, known for its affordability and versatile offerings. The Bayliner VR6 is a great example of an affordable yet feature-packed runabout boat, providing fun and relaxation without breaking the bank.

ChaparralCobalt and Boston Whaler are known for their high-quality runabout boats, well-suited for recreational boating. Boston Whaler, in particular, offers the 160 Super Sport model, which is seen as a fun and enjoyable option.

Moving on to Chris-Craft, a brand that has been producing boats for over a century, they are renowned for their craftsmanship and luxurious offerings. On the other hand, Rinker Boats is popular for its budget-friendly yet stylish runabout boat options.

Other popular brands in the runabout boat market include Four WinnsGlastron, and Regal. Each of these manufacturers offers a unique blend of features, performance, and style, catering to a wide range of preferences and budgets.

Types of Engines and Propulsion Systems

Various engine types and propulsion systems are utilized in runabout boats, each possessing their unique features and advantages. In this section, we'll discuss some of the common systems, including outboard engines, inboard engines, inboard/outboard (I/O) engines, sterndrives, and electric motors.

Outboard Engines

Outboard engines are a popular choice in runabout boats due to their versatility, efficiency, and easy maintenance. Typically located on the transom, outboard engines can be found in several forms, including standard outboard and outboard-4S (four-stroke) engines. These engines often run on gas or diesel, and various fuel systems are available to cater to different requirements.

Inboard Engines

Inboard engines, installed within the hull of the boat, offer advantages such as increased onboard space and improved handling. However, inboard engines may require more complex maintenance compared to outboard engines. Like their outboard counterparts, inboard engines can run on gas, diesel, or other fuel types.

Inboard/Outboard Engines

Inboard/outboard (I/O) engines, also known as sterndrive engines, combine the features of both inboard and outboard systems. Generally, the engine is situated within the boat, while the drive unit is fixed to the transom. I/O engines provide more interior space, like inboards, and the maneuverability of outboards. I/O engines can run on various fuel types, such as gas, diesel, and LPG.


Sterndrive propulsion systems are popular among runabout boats, particularly those with I/O engines. These systems provide a mix of power, efficiency, and handling, making them suitable for several boating activities. Common sterndrive systems include products from manufacturers like Mercruiser.

Electric Motors

Electric motor propulsion systems are gaining popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional engines. They offer quieter operation and lower emissions, making them an ideal choice for environmentally conscious boaters. These motors are available in various sizes and horsepower ratings, catering to a range of runabout boat types and uses. Electric motors can be combined with other propulsion systems, ensuring that boaters enjoy a reliable and efficient experience on the water.

Fuel Options for Runabout Boats

When considering a runabout boat purchase, it's essential to understand the different fuel options available. These primarily include gas, diesel, and electric power sources. Each option has its advantages and limitations, which should be assessed based on your intended use and budget.

Gasoline-powered runabout boats are a popular choice among recreational boaters. They are typically more affordable than their diesel counterparts and offer a wide range of horsepower options. Gas engines also accelerate quickly, providing a suitable choice for watersports enthusiasts. However, gas engines tend to have higher fuel consumption rates and may require more frequent maintenance.

Diesel-powered runabout boats are known for their efficiency and reliability. Diesel engines produce more torque at lower RPMs, allowing for optimal performance in various boating applications, such as long-distance cruising or towing. Diesel runabouts can be found in brands like guide for marine diesel engines that are compact and available in various horsepower levels up to 265 hp. While diesel engines may be more expensive initially, they can result in lower long-term fuel and maintenance costs.

Electric runabout boats are an emerging option for environmentally conscious boaters. They offer a quiet, clean, and low-maintenance alternative to gas and diesel engines. Electric-powered boats typically have lower operating costs due to the absence of fuel expenses and reduced maintenance requirements. However, electric runabouts may have limited range and speed capabilities compared to their gas and diesel counterparts. Additionally, charging infrastructure and initial purchasing costs may be higher for electric-powered boats.

In summary, runabout boat buyers have a variety of fuel options to choose from. Key considerations include the boat's intended use, budget, and personal preferences. Opting for a gasoline, diesel, or electric-powered runabout should align with your boating needs and long-term ownership goals.

Key Features and Amenities

Runabout boats are popular for their versatility and adaptability, offering various features and amenities to cater to different boating activities, such as cruising, watersports, and fishing. In this section, we'll discuss some key features and amenities found in deck boats, bowriders, and cruisers.

Deck Boats

Deck boats are characterized by their open bow design with seating and a walk-through windshield, providing plenty of space for socializing and recreational activities. Key features in deck boats may include:

  • Spacious seating areas for passengers
  • Walk-through windshield for easy access to bow seating
  • Ample storage compartments for gear and personal belongings
  • Removable cooler for refreshments
  • Bimini top for sun protection


Bowriders are similar to deck boats but have a more streamlined and sporty design, making them ideal for watersports enthusiasts. Key features in bowriders include:

  • Comfortable bow seating with cupholders
  • Dry storage compartments for stowing away personal items
  • Optional tow point for watersports activities, such as wakeboarding and waterskiing
  • Swim platform with boarding ladder for easy water access


Cruisers are larger runabout boats designed for extended periods of cruising, providing more comfort and amenities than smaller runabout boats. Key features in cruisers include:

  • Enclosed cabin with sleeping quarters and a galley for meal preparation
  • Spacious cockpit seating for relaxation and socializing
  • Extended swim platform with boarding ladder for water access
  • Shore power connection for utilizing onshore facilities and amenities

In summary, runabout boats offer various features and amenities to cater to a wide range of boating activities. Deck boats, bowriders, and cruisers each have unique offerings that serve different purposes and preferences, catering to individuals looking for the perfect boat for their desired activities.

Buying a Runabout Boat

Runabout boats are versatile and popular recreational boats that cater to the needs of boating enthusiasts. Whether it's for fishing, water sports, or just leisurely cruising, buying a runabout boat can be a wise investment.

New vs. Used

When it comes to buying a runabout boat, one key decision is whether to purchase new or used. New runabout boats for sale offer the advantage of modern features, a comprehensive warranty, and the satisfaction of being the first owner. However, new boats generally come with a higher price tag.

Used runabout boats can be more affordable and may have valuable extras such as upgraded engines or additional accessories. It's important to thoroughly inspect any used boat and consider factors like usage history, maintenance records, and any potential repairs needed.

Factors to Consider

When searching for a runabout boat, several factors should be taken into account:

  • Size: Runabout boats can range from 15 to 30 feet in length. Consider the size of your dock or storage space, as well as the number of passengers you typically have on board.
  • Engine type: Outboard, sterndrive, or jet drive engines are the most common options for runabout boats. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, so consider your needs when choosing an engine.
  • Seating and storage: Evaluate the boat's seating configuration and ensure you have enough storage space for your gear and supplies.
  • Manufacturer reputation and support: Consider the resale value and the availability of service and support from the boat manufacturer.

Budget Considerations

Setting a realistic budget is essential when buying a runabout boat. In addition to the initial purchase price, remember to factor in other costs such as insurance, maintenance, storage, fuel, and registration fees. Don't forget to allocate funds for necessary safety gear and equipment like life jackets, fire extinguishers, and anchors.

It's possible to find affordable runabout and bowrider boats on the market, especially among used boats. Spending time researching different models and options can help make the decision-making process easier and ensure that you make the right investment for your recreational needs.

Top Boat Dealers and Locations

When searching for runabout boats, several top dealers and locations stand out in terms of variety and availability in different states. The Boat Trader website is a great resource for finding runabout boats for sale, with options such as outboard and sterndrive power. Some popular states to consider for runabout boats include Illinois, Indiana, California, Missouri, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, and New York.

In New York, boat enthusiasts may explore locations like Buffalo and Sodus Point. Buffalo offers a range of boats priced between $3,500 and $799,990, with an average boat value of $112,557. On the other hand, Sodus Point is an excellent destination for boating enthusiasts due to its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities.

California is another popular state for buying boats, with its extensive coastline and abundant opportunities for water sports and leisure activities. Boat dealers in California offer a variety of runabout boats for sale, catering to different budgets and preferences.

Boat buyers in the Midwest can consider states like Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, while those in the Southern United States can explore Georgia and Florida for their runabout boat needs. Many boat dealers in these states offer a wide variety of options suitable for different purposes, such as cruising, fishing, or water sports.

For shoppers interested in comparing boat prices and inventory, is another valuable online platform for finding runabout boats. With a range of boats available, from as little as $4,995 to as much as $285,449, buyers have access to a diverse selection to meet their needs and budget.

Popular Models and Years

Runabout boats have evolved over the years, and there are several popular models and years that stand out. One remarkable model is the 1960 Shepherd Runabout, which was reconditioned in 2022/23 and used as a family boat.

Another notable runabout from the past is the 1948 Chris-Craft Deluxe Runabout, known for its beautiful restoration and maintenance. This classic boat showcases the elegance and style of the mid-20th century.

Moving towards more recent years, there has been an ongoing interest in runabout boats from 2010 onward. Models from 2016 have remained particularly popular, with modern amenities and performance enhancements that cater to boating enthusiasts.

In the current year, 2023, the Formula 270 Bowrider has captured the market with its sleek design and functionality. Boaters can appreciate its stem to stern layout, designed to provide maximum comfort and relaxation on the water.

As the runabout boat market moves forward, upcoming models planned for release in 2024 and beyond promise to deliver innovative designs and upgraded features. Be sure to keep an eye on the latest offerings from renowned boat manufacturers.

Personal Experiences and Testimonials

Runabout boat owners often share their enthusiasm and passion for their vessels. Fans of these boats appreciate the comfort and convenience they provide, making them ideal for family outings on the water. Many owners express their satisfaction with the value they receive from their runabouts, as they deliver enjoyable experiences without breaking the bank.

One boat owner mentioned how her family has enjoyed countless weekends on their runabout, appreciating its versatility and ability to accommodate every member of their household. The spacious seating arrangements and smooth ride ensured that everyone was comfortable, regardless of age or experience level.

Another owner shared his experience with a more upscale model, praising the luxurious features and attention to detail found on his boat. He appreciated how the design combined both style and function, allowing him and his family to relax and enjoy their time on the water. The boat's performance was a winner, as its well-balanced mix of speed, stability, and handling made it a pleasure to pilot.

In addition to the direct testimony from happy owners, numerous online reviews and ratings highlight the satisfaction experienced by those who have purchased runabout boats. Specifically, many people commented on the boats' user-friendly layouts, ample storage options, and overall quality.

Boat Trader Blog offers a helpful guide to the best runabout boats, while provides a selection of the most affordable runabouts and bowriders, further demonstrating the popularity and value of these vessels. 

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