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While powerful, fully featured personal watercraft are nice to dream about, they are out of financial reach for most of us. Fortunately, the manufacturers are well aware of our financial situations and they offer up a variety of budget PWC to choose from. To help you get started on your PWC shopping experience, we have put together a list of the five best cheap personal watercraft for 2018.
We arbitrarily chose $8000 as our cutoff for this article, as craft under that price point all offer up similar power and performance. Of course, there are actually only six current model year PWC with an MSRP under $8000. The only one we have chosen to omit is the Sea-Doo Spark 900, which is the cheapest PWC currently available at $5,399. But with an engine that produces just 60 horsepower, leaving it off this list was a fairly easy choice.
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The Sea-Doo Spark essentially started the Rec-Lite category and it is well represented on this list, despite the base model not being included. The Sea-Doo Spark 900 H.O. 2-Up model carries a retail price of $5999. That’s a $600 premium over the base model, but the Rotax 900 H.O. three-cylinder engine produces a much more palatable 90 horsepower with some much improved midrange snap and a top speed of about 48 mph. That extra power also brings out more of the Spark’s playful side. If you’d like Sea-Doo’s vaunted Intelligent Brake & Reverse, the price jumps to $6,999.
If you want the fun and playfulness of the Spark, but want a little more room in the seat, the 3-Up Spark 900 H.O. is the ticket. The $6599 price is $600 more than the 2-up version and comes with all the same features. The larger saddle bumps the dry weight up to 421 pounds – 16 more than on the two-seat version. As with the 2-up version, you can opt for Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Brake & Reverse for an extra $1000. Either option still makes for a great cheap personal watercraft option.
With a base price of just $6,699, the Yamaha EX is the cheapest WaveRunner available for 2018. This model was introduced in the 2017 model year and returns largely unchanged for 2018. This three-seat craft relies on a 1049cc three-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 100 horsepower. Thanks to its light 577-pound weight, acceleration is solid and the craft reaches a top speed of about 50 mph. Ride stability is excellent and the hull described as playful and precise.
The Sea-Doo Spark TRIXX was designed to be a playful and affordable craft that freestyle fans would enjoy. Turns out, they weren’t the only ones as the $7399 Spark TRIXX was the best selling PWC in the industry in 2017. This craft shares the same 90-horsepower powerplant as the other Spark models on this list, but its tweaked variable trim system that easily allows the TRIXX to “wheelie” on the water with minimal throttle or skill. From there, experience can lead to some very fun on-water tricks that bring out the kid in pretty much anybody. This freestyle fun is further helped by footwell wedges that provide sure footing when the bow is pointed skyward.
The Yamaha EX Sport shares much in common with the base EX, including the same 1049cc three-cylinder engine that produces 100 horsepower and the playful and precise hull. Where the EX Sport differs is the addition of a manual reverse gear, mirrors and a boarding step, along with some additional graphics. This all adds an extra $1000 to the price tag, but these are much appreciated features we’d recommend to most buyers – even in a cheap personal watercraft. Having a manual reverse helps in tight quarters, while mirrors are a nice safety feature. The boarding step is another plus for those who like to take their craft out to deep water and jump off for a swim. And the extra features only add seven pounds to the dry weight, which shouldn’t have any noticeable effect on the acceleration or top speed.
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