Boat Buyer's Guide 2013
Author: Alan Jones
The designers at Sun Tracker keep thinking of new ways to get people out on the water without breaking the bank, and for 2013 they’ve really set the bar low … on price. Bang for the buck, on the other hand, is off the charts with the all-new Bass Buggy 16. The nationally advertised “No haggle no hassle” price for this mini fishing/cruising machine is $9,995, when powered by a Mercury 20 hp FourStroke. We tested it with 40 hp.
Sometimes, companies will design boats that hit an ultra-low price point and often sacrifice comfort in the process, but Sun Tracker added numerous creature comforts from its more expensive boats. Seating on the BB 16 is extremely comfortable, starting with a pair of fishing seats in the bow that are also used on the popular Bass Buggy 18. With an overstuffed L-lounge in the stern and a wide jumpseat in front of the console that features a livewell underneath, there’s actually room for seven passengers. Designers even added high-gloss fencing with stylish graphics for good looks.
The upholstery is stout 24-ounce vinyl stretched over multidensity foam that provides the right blend of cushiness and support. Often a rarity on compact pontoons, there’s storage under the flip-up seat bottoms in the L-lounge to keep items dry. The rotomolded driver’s console, also borrowed from the Bass Buggy 18, features a deluxe sport wheel, rod storage, three stainless steel cupholders and a tray for storing incidentals.
On our test day on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Mo., whitecaps were forming thanks to a stiff breeze. Normally, this makes heading out in a compact pontoon a no-go proposition, but the Bass Buggy 16 has oversized 24-inch tubes, so it rode high over the chop. Sharp nosecones helped us slice through oncoming waves, and spray deflectors did their job well. With an 8-foot, 6-inch beam, the BB 16 is as wide as many 30-footers, so its side-to-side stability is excellent. Our test boat is powered by a 40 hp Mercury Big Foot, which swings a bigger prop for more bite and translated to excellent performance for such modest power. On plane in 2.5 seconds, it reached 20 mph in 7.5 seconds, with a surprisingly fast top speed of 24 mph.