Boating’s editors test more than 100 boats per year in just about every category. During 2022, our editors once again tested more than 100 boats, including PWC, 16-foot-long runabouts, cruisers, dayboats, and center-console boats in excess of 50 feet length overall.
We tested gas boats, diesel boats, electric boats, jet boats, outboard boats, inboard boats, sterndrive boats and surface-drive boats. We exceeded 150 mph on the water, and we cruised at displacement speeds. V-hull boats represented the lion’s share of our test pool, but we also ran plenty of catamarans in addition to some RIBs, a proa and even a hydrofoil. Coupled with our editors nearly 200 years of combined experience testing boats, this provides the Boating Tech Team with a river of experience that is broad and deep.
Each year, we apply that experience and select the most coveted award in recreational boating: the Boat of the Year (BOTY). Candidates must stand out in the category in which they reside or in the mission they are intended to fulfill. We do not pit a sport-fisher against a wakeboat, for example. Rather, if a wakeboat strikes us as a candidate, we assess how it innovates in that realm. So, the Boat of the Year is the boat that stands out in its category more than any other boat we tested stands out in any other category.
We announce the Boat of the Year winner in January. The five boats here are the 2022 BOTY finalists and themselves represent great boats for the missions in which they serve. Which boat will be the Boat of the Year? Find out in January.
Read Next: Learn more about Boat of the Year!
Malibu Wakesetter 21 LX
Marrying the bow seating space of a pickle-fork hull with the attractive lines of a traditional bow, this boat is actually offered with two hulls, one optimized for wake sports and the other allowing wake sports and water-skiing. Its G5 Tower and Integrated Surf Platform also won our editors praise.
Read Next: 2022 Malibu Wakesetter 21 LX
Courtesy Taiga Motors Inc.
Taiga Orca PWC
Billed as the world’s first electric-powered PWC, we found its direct-drive simple to operate and discovered that it does not exhibit the idle steering issues of lag between forward, neutral and reverse that plague many PWC. Its lightweight carbon-fiber composite hull helps maximize efficiency.
Read Next: 2022 Taiga Orca Carbon
Courtesy Scarab Jet Boats
Offering 600 hp, currently the most for a jet runabout, this boat proved quieter than others during our testing. We also liked that the BRP engines can be adjusted to stop the annoying “spin and creep” evidenced at idle by other jet boats. Uniquely for jet boats, custom vinyl, flooring and gelcoat are available.
Read Next: 2022 Scarab Jet 285 ID
Here’s a boat that gets a family afloat for under $30,000, is trailerable with a midsize car, and is so truly easy to pilot and dock with handle-bar steering that it opens the world of recreational boating to a wider audience. Its customizable interior, with removable seats and accessories, lets owners set it up to suit the day.
Read Next: 2022 Sea-Doo Switch 21 Cruise
Courtesy Solace Boats
This diesel-powered center-console delivers superior range and seakeeping compared to its outboard-powered counterpart, which we documented side by side during a 400-mile round-trip cruise to the Bahamas Out Islands. The jack-shafted Volvo Penta Aquamatic system allows for the inclusion of an electric motor to make this a hybrid-powered vessel.
Read Next: 2022 Solace 415CS