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2021 Sea-Doo vs. Yamaha vs. Kawasaki

2021 Sea-Doo vs Yamaha vs Kawasaki post is now in a PDF format, so it’s easier to read and more portable.

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Author

Steven

I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created StevenInSales.com in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

Comments

  1. I am looking to buy 2 pwc for the family. I am looking at the Yamaha VX Cruiser HO, Yamaha VX Limited HO, Yamaha FX HO or Yamaha FX Cruiser HO. I will using them in California lakes. Want something that my teenager and younger adult kids will be able to have fun riding and fishing off them. Also have thought about Sea doo. This would be our first pwc that my family would be buying and riding.

    Reply
    • If you’re getting 2022 models I would suggest the 2022 FX HO as the changes made to them is worth it for a family. It’s a good middle ground jet ski but super stable ride and a fair price too. The models you’re looking at are about the same top speed but the FX lineup is getting more family-friendly features like GPS Geoblocking when you get the map card addon. Plus, the FX lineup can have the new fishing accessories added to it too. https://www.steveninsales.com/2022-yamaha-waverunner-whats-new/

      If you care more about fishing, Sea-Doo has the FishPro Scout 130 that is a little cheaper than the 2022 FX HO. It will be about 5mph slower but has tons of fishing accessories already added. The FishPro will have the GPS and fish-finder along with iDF while the Yamaha will charge extra to get the GPS and does not have iDF. https://www.sea-doo.com/us/en/models/sport-fishing/fish-pro-scout.html

      Reply
      • I am looking at the 2022 models. Want a well balance pwc to able to load up with 3 people to do tubing and the fishing when the kids want to fish by themselves. With all the models being close to each other very hard to pin point one. Is the difference with the FX HO and FX Cruiser Ho just the seat and that’s it. Between the Sea Doo and Yamaha and thing that will stand out more that would make it a better unit for the family.

        Reply
        • Seat and color are what make the cruiser models different, to me it’s not worth the extra cost. The closest to the FX HO will be the Sea-Doo GTX 170. The GTX will sit lower and be more stable in the water but it lacks as much storage as the FX. If you’re looking more for a family machine you can’t go wrong with either the FX HO or GTX 170, what can help determine the one you pick is your local dealers. See who can give you the better deal and who is closer too. See if you can sit on either one at the dealership too as this can tell you a lot.

          Reply
  2. Hi Steven – love the articles. I’m leaning towards a 2022 GTX 170. I’ll be on Smith Mountain Lake which sees significant traffic chop. We will want to tow tubes and maybe some boards for teenage boys. Wife and I will use it mostly for cruising and will want to be comfortable. Any reason I should be rethinking this choice? Thanks

    Reply
    • That sounds like a perfect fit for what you described. If you mostly do cruising the GTX body is a must and the 170HP is more than enough for pull sports. The GTX will also take the chop better than a GTI or smaller.

      Reply
  3. Hi
    What would be your recommendation to buy either a gtx 230 with sound or wake pro.
    It will be used off shore in rough water and occasional tow sports

    Reply
    • If you’re not doing much tow sports I would go with the GTX 230 for sure. You can always add the Ski Pylon if you need it and the wakeboard rack too.

      Reply
  4. Hi Steven, I really appreciate your reviews, it’s some great information. I was wondering if you could help me decide between these two jet skis. I’m looking at either the RXTX-300 or a GTX 300. Not a huge fan of the RXPX due to lack of 3-up. I ride by myself 80% of the time, but want the ability to take 3 if needed.
    I do a lot of tight cornering maneuvers, wide-open runs and overall aggressive riding. But, about 30% of the time, I’ll find myself cruising with my friends that are on a boat. Is there a large comfort penalty on the RXTX due to its “sportiness” that would warrant the GTX?
    Currently on a GTI 170, and I’m looking for something more refined in terms of handling and acceleration. I’m sure both models will be an upgrade (relative to my GTI) in these categories, but just wanted to see what you think.

    Thanks in advance,
    Bob

    Reply
    • In your current situation and how you ride the difference won’t be noticeable and an RXT-X 300 would fit your needs a lot better.

      Reply
  5. Which would be the more comfortable ride in Great Lakes chop with a couple riding it and loaded heavy with gear: GTX 170 or FX Cruiser HO ? This would be a day boating alternative – riding a few hours and spending time in the shallows with friends for a few hours.

    Reply
    • I would feel more comfortable in the GTX because you sit more sunken in which helps with stability especially when riding with two people. Both will feel the chop about the same. Plus, GTX is just set up better for hanging out with its lounge seating and easy-to-add accessories.

      Reply
  6. I need to decide Sea-Doo GTX Limited vs Yamaha FX Limited SVHO I like iDF on GTX, build in speakers, screen 300hp. On Yamaha side I like cuz its Japanese made, enough said. Are this GTX skis reliable, do not break down. Im buying my first ski and want top of the range family cruiser for going nearby islands. Which one u think is better and which one would u get?

    Reply
    • I’m more of a fan of the Sea-Doo’s but if you’re used to Yamaha go with that for sure. Right now the demand for both is really high so it will be hard finding either one. Ideally, you want to sit on both to see how the seats work for you.

      Reply
        • Both manufacturers have their own issues but the GTX 300 has not had anything crazy wrong with it that I’ve seen. The iDF on the LTD was a speed bump but only affected a very small amount of units. I don’t know why people claim Yamaha is more reliable as I’ve seen them have their issues too. I figure Sea-Doo gets more flack because they have a bigger market share? So long as you do proper maintenance either one will be fine.

          Reply
  7. Steve — AWESOME website and quality analysis! I am laser-focused on GTX Limited 300. Big dealer here in northern IL says sold out and doesn’t think he can source….true?! Any way to source?

    I’m trading in a ’19 Fish w/ 20 hrs and getting good price at $11k+

    My distant 2nd choice is Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO in all Black (I’m a subtle color scheme snob and can’t do the bright combo). I prefer the Limited features, but not into those color schemes. Besides making my on-water visibility terrible w/ Black (and hot), do you think this is suitable alternative?

    Reply
    • Models with iDF will be harder to come by because it’s so new and Sea-Doo can’t keep up. The demand for jet skis is high due to current events as everyone is home. Dealers can only get units from other dealers or the factory. Every dealer can sorta see if another dealer has one and how far they are using the web portal. Some dealers are less likely to give a unit away to another dealer especially if the unit is in demand so it’s better to call around yourself to see. The factory makes units in cycles so it may be weeks or months before they do the model you’re looking for.

      The Yamaha color does look better and you may have an easier time getting it than the Sea-Doo GTX Limited this year. Though the Yamaha waverunners are in high demand too.

      Reply
  8. These reviews are great!

    I was hoping to buy another GTX 230 Limited this year to match my 2020, but they discontinued it. I read the reviews hoping to pick a suitable replacement and I have to say I think you have sold me on the Spark TRIXX 2up as an alternative. It will mostly be for my teenage kids since I already have the Goldwing of the Sea! It looks like a pure FUN machine!!!

    If anyone reading this is looking at a used or new 230 LTD it is the best compromise ever since it has an amazing hull with great stability, 230HP for all the fun, yet runs on regular fuel and saves some money versus the 300 LTD.

    Thanks for the great info

    Reply
    • Hi,
      We bought a VX Deluxe last year and the whole family loves it, so much so we are planning on getting a second PWC fo this year. We are looking for a more powerful model and are considering the VX HO or the FX HO. We are on the Great Lakes and occasionally ride in sizable chop. I really like the new features on the 2021 VX. How much better the FX is in the chop and for long rides? Is the difference significant or small?
      Thanks – great website!

      Reply
  9. Good evening. I am thrilled to have found your reviews! We are a family of 6 with four younger kids (3-12). We are looking for a pair of machines that we can all have some fun on and are trying to decide between the Yamaha VX Deluxe or the Kawasaki Ultra LX.

    I love the RiDE system that the Yamaha has, I like the swim platform and the reboarding step, and I feel like the smaller kids will manage the more ‘bench’ style seat better. I also like the footwell drains, that its lighter and the rooster tail! lol.
    With the Kawasaki I love the look of them, the 4 cyl and the 1500 ish CC, the storage space for day trips with kids and the slightly better price point.

    Have you had experience with smaller kids on the high contoured seats? I feel like my 3 and 5 year old will be sitting behind me with their bottoms stuck in a contour having to lean forward a lot to hang on to me…

    Is the RiDE system so good that it outweighs some of the benefits of the Kawasaki? Do people have much trouble with the RiDE system – is it reliable?

    Any other thoughts on the best option for this situation?

    Thank you in advance! Nicola

    Reply
    • In your situation, I would go more towards the Yamaha VX Deluxe. The RIDE system is very much worth it and Yamaha has had it for a few years so the bugs are pretty much gone. Having brakes on the water for a jet ski is a must if you ask me, it’s one of the reasons I say to go with the bigger models for beginners. https://www.steveninsales.com/best-jet-ski-beginners-not-think/ The VX Deluxe is also cheaper than the Kawasaki Ultra LX, lighter and better on gas, and more futureproof if you ask me with the new body and gauges. The only real benefit the Ultra LX will have is more storage and will take to the ocean chop a little better.

      Reply
  10. Steven,
    I finally decided to get a Sea-Doo GTI SE 170. I put in an order for one last week. After reading your information and talking to local dealers I kind of went from getting a smaller Yamaha EX , then the Yamaha VX deluxe or GTI 130 and finally decided on the GTI 170. I figure it could adapt to various situations(riding, towing kids that get bigger, adults etc). Can’t wait to try it out this summer.

    Reply
  11. I am very happy to be find and discovery your website. I’m from Argentina and I wanna buy a new pwc, because i have a old Sea Doo SPX 1993 and they are to old. I looking for a Yamaha 4 stroke PWC like ex or vx. Thanks for sow many tips.

    Reply
  12. Steve,
    New to all of this….INCREDIBLE job with your knowledge…INCREDIBLE… dumb question…While I am not OCD or germaphobic….why oh why is Yamaha the only oprion for footwell drains???

    CAn I get Seadoo to put them in as an option?

    Bob

    Reply
    • Footwell drains are interesting. It’s a great idea but doesn’t work like many people think they do. The footwells fill up when the jet ski is sitting and it rains, the footwells act like a bucket. The drains work best when the engine is on to help suck it out but can fill up just like any other jet ski without the drains. The reason why more jet skis don’t have it is that the drains can get clogged over time just like any drain and thus stop working. What I do when my footwells are full is that I hop on my jet ski and just take off and the water flows out. If the jet ski is on land on my trailer I tilt it back or put the cover on it. Keeping the cover on the jet ski, which is ideal when you’re not using it, will help keep the footwells from filling up too much. I often put a tarp over my cover to help it even further during the winter months when I’m not riding.

      Reply
  13. Steven
    Great article, I’m 6 ft 250. Will be riding on Lake Erie and it seems like it will be hard to have many of the different models to set on as half of them are sold already :(.
    I’m looking for the range of the VX Yamaha limited HO or the GTI SE 170 ? Could be talked into the FX model or the next higher sea doo if it’s worth it.
    Which one? 🙂 Brian

    Reply
  14. Steven,
    It looks like I’ll be getting a 2021 Yamaha VX Deluxe or the Sea-Doo GTI SE 130. Price is not an issue since they are so close. One day I lean towards the Yamaha the next day it’s the Sea-Doo. I like the yamaha because it has the nano cell hull, self draining footwells, boarding step and reputation. I like the Sea-Doo Se 130 because it has the boarding step, Polytec body, different driving modes, and the trim. You mentioned that both machines have great engines. I haven’t sat on either machine yet since they are not in around here yet. Seat comfort may play apart. Will I be happy with either machine? Is there anything you may think of that may help in my decision? Thanks Steven

    Reply
    • You honestly can’t go wrong with either machine. Yamaha has changed their seat on the VX models to be more comfortable but the Sea-Doo GTI seat I find to be even better. I find the ergonomics of the Sea-Doo GTI to be better especially if you’re taller; the groves of the seat cutouts and the plastic fit the body better if you ask me. But if you want to be more playful and ride aggressive the Yamaha VX will give you more freedom of movement.

      Reply
  15. Hi Steven,
    Great website. I value your opinion. I currently have a 94 Polaris SLT750. It’s still running! Want to get a new watercraft. Here is what I would use the new machine for. Riding around the lake to cool off. Occasionally tow a young kid on a tube or skis. It’s a 800 acre lake. Here are the machines I am looking at.
    Yamaha EX Sport or Deluxe
    Yamaha VX or VX Deluxe
    Sea-Doo GTI 90
    Sea-Doo GTI 130
    Sea-Doo GTI SE 130
    I’ve been leaning towards the VX or GTI SE 130.
    As per usual reliability is important, but I think it comes down to how a person uses and maintains their watercraft. After all I’ve had my Polaris since 2000 and have only needed to replace the link between the engine and impeller and finally rebuilt the carbs last spring.
    i’ve read your info and value your opinion. Which machine(s) would be best for my situation?

    Reply
    • If it’s between the VX or GTI SE 130 I would go with the VX. It’s going to be cheaper but it will lack all the extra driving modes the GTI SE 130 will have. A more fair comparison of the GTI SE 130 would be the VX Deluxe or Cruser. The reliability of both will be nearly the same. The Yamaha TR1 and Sea-Doo 130HP engines are nearly “bulletproof”. Just do your recommended maintenance and you’ll get a long life out of them. Since you’re coming from such an old jet ski I highly recommend you sit on each model to see how it fits you. It’s going to be a night and day difference in comfort going from a SLT750 to a VX or GTI. The way the VX sit compared to the GTI will be different and if you plan on having this one for a long time too you want to make sure it fits well. Sit at least 10 minutes on each one to see how it feels.

      Reply
      • Steven,
        Thanks for the great advice. I’ll try to sit on each one if there is an opportunity in January or February. I feel better about choosing either watercraft. The VX , VX Deluxe or one of the GTI 130’s. Looks like the VX Deluxe and the SE GTI 130 have some nicer features. Thank you.

        Reply
  16. Hi Steve, thanks for these reviews, they help a lot. Just one question: in what case would you recommend a GTX limited 300 over the RXT-X. I’m looking for speed and agility but also something that i could occasionally take offshore with the family. What would you say the differences in performance between the GTX Limited and the RXT-X skis. thanks

    Reply
    • I’m all in on the GTX 300 over the RXT-X 300. It’s cheaper, has the same engine, and the few racing features the RXT-X has don’t seem worth it for the cost. The seat on the GTX will limit movement compared to the RXT-X but in the long run, the GTX is just a better machine. I also think the color scheme on the GTX 300 looks way better than the RXT-X. Unless you want to race the RXT-X for a living it’s a hard sell compared to the GTX 300 but that is just me.

      Reply
  17. Hello, your reviews are great! One question I have is, which one of the high end models is the best for rough waters? I heard the the heavier the weight and the lower the width and length the better it is. Do you agree? Something very light, wide and long will probably move a lot I am guessing.

    Reply
    • Kawasaki ULTRA’s are more known for its rough water hulls but both Yamaha FX and Sea-Doo GTX hulls hold up very well too. The longer the hull the better, this is why bigger boats take the chop better. Width is better for stability especially and lower speeds. Also, total height is important too as the higher you sit the more top-heavy you are and less stable you are at lower speeds.

      Reply

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