The SeaDoo VS Yamaha VS Kawasaki debate has been around for years. It can be hard for many beginners to make up their mind when all sides are so biased. This review is not intended to sway anyone’s opinion one way or another, but rather point out some facts for people to go off of. After reviewing the pro’s and cons of each side it will be much easier to make an educated decision.
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Related: The Used Jet Ski Buyers Guide
There is a lot to learn before picking a side in the SeaDoo VS Yamaha VS Kawasaki debate.
For starters, it’s good to know a little bit of the background on each of the companies model selection. There are 4 main categories of jet ski’s: rec-lite, recreation, luxury, and performance. Each of the companies have their own terms but this is basically the main categories.
In 2017, SeaDoo still holds the title for largest selection, with Yamaha coming in close second, and Kawasaki sitting in last.
For years SeaDoo has made a wide variety of PWC. This is good for those who know what they’re looking for, but for someone who doesn’t it can be a bit confusing. A great benefit to their large line-up is they’re guaranteed to have something for everyone. Sometimes it just takes some extra research to make decision.
Yamaha makes a few models in each category. Their lineup is pretty clean cut with just a few options in each category. Most people have no problem finding a good fitting model in their selection.
Kawasaki has kept the same limited line up for some time now. They added a new stand up model but other than that no changes have been announced. A small line up can be good for first time buyers because they aren’t overwhelmed with options.
How much a jet ski cost is a huge factor in making a decision. Having multiple models to choose from is great when it comes to choosing a budget. The larger a selection, the more spread out pricing is. There are gaps of a couple hundred dollars rather than a couple thousand. This is where the SeaDoo VS Yamaha VS Kawasaki argument begins to heat up.
Related: How much is a jet ski?
SeaDoo is known for making the most affordable jet ski’s on the market. The SeaDoo Spark is the cheapest entry level jet ski available with a starting price of just $5,299. SeaDoo’s most expensive jet ski is the RXT-X 300 with a retail price of $15,499.
Yamaha realized the majority of sales comes from first time buyers, so they created their own budget friendly waverunner. The Yamaha EX has a starting price of only $6,599. Yamaha’s most expensive jet ski is the FX Limited SVHO with a retail price of $16,899.
Kawasaki’s cheapest base model the STX-15F has a retail price of $9,699. It’s important to note that their base model is much faster than their competitors. Since their selection is small, there are large jumps in the price between models. Kawasaki’s most expensive jet ski is the Ultra 310LX with a retail price of $17,999.
Instead of individually doing a SeaDoo VS Yamaha VS Kawasaki model comparison, it’s better to do summary of each. There are dozens of models in each category and every one of them have something the other doesn’t. These summaries give you a general outline of all three.
SeaDoo almost always has the cheapest options. Their price is easily one of the biggest factors that make them so popular for first time buyers. A drawback to the low price is their base models usually need a few upgrades, and that can make the low price tag disappear quickly.
After add-ons Sea Doo is often times still more affordable than other options, but keep in mind the final price is often much higher than expected.
One of SeaDoo’s best attributes is their constant innovation. SeaDoo has continually created new advanced features and even invented the rec-lite category with the SeaDoo Spark. To push the bar even further, they created the Spark Trixx, an upgrade package of the Spark. They essentially blurred the line between stand up jet ski’s and sit down jet ski’s just by creating an upgrade package.
Unfortunately SeaDoo’s can sometimes be known to break down before Yamaha’s or Kawasaki’s. It makes sense because with more moving parts there is definitely going to be more room for error. Extra features don’t matter if they stop working after a couple of years, but how long a watercraft lasts has a lot to do with how it’s treated. Sometimes malfunctions are more the owners fault than the jet ski’s.
Although SeaDoo’s aren’t the most dependable jet ski’s, I wouldn’t let this be the sole factor when making a decision on which company to go with.
Yamaha has built a reputation for making the most reliable waverunners on the water. Not only are their engines the longest lasting, but they’re also the easiest to work on. Even beginners can handle the maintenance on a Yamaha.
No matter what PWC you get, something is eventually going to break on it. It’s good to know that with a Yamaha repairs can be fixed fairly easy in your own garage.
Another huge selling point for Yamaha’s is their fuel efficiency. Yamaha makes incredibly fuel efficient watercraft which can definitely save money in the long run. Good fuel economy is also just convenient to have. Bringing extra fuel can be a hassle and no one wants to pause a fun day to go buy more gas.
The last major quality Yamaha has is an abundance of safety features. Yamaha’s RiDE technology allows riders to turn without accelerating. Traditional PWC don’t have rudders so until recently the could only turn if they were moving forward.
Other than turning capabilities, Yamaha also has an incredible braking system. Their waverunners are designs to brake smoothly so riders aren’t tossed over the handlebars. Many families are attracted to Yamaha waverunners because of their high safety ratings.
Kawasaki makes some of the fastest powersports on the market, and the same goes for their jet ski’s. Their jet ski models always come with the most powerful engines possible and are almost always supercharged. Kawasaki jet ski’s are great for anyone trying to get a thrill on the water.
The biggest drawback of Kawasaki jet ski’s is easily the price. They don’t offer very many budget friendly models and they don’t come with nearly as many features as Yamaha and Sea Doo. Their watercraft are great, but getting more features for the price would definitely be a plus.
Although they are somewhat pricey, Kawasaki jet ski’s offer some great features their competition doesn’t. The Kawasaki Ultra 310LX is the very first jet ski to come with speakers built in. Not only that, it was the first to create heat resistant seats. All of these aspects may seem small but together they help create an extremely comfortable watercraft.
Don’t let this review of the SeaDoo VS Yamaha VS Kawasaki debate turn you away from any of the three. It’s not about waverunner vs jet ski or Yamaha vs SeaDoo. Each of them offer their own benefits and drawbacks. The purpose of this article is to help educate buyers on the general background of each of the companies to help them make the right decision.
The best jet ski for one person isn’t going to be perfect for everyone. It’s not necessary to pick a side indefinitely. Opinions change and what works for you now might not work for you a few years from now. Take the time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for and make a decision based on your needs.
What is you favorite PWC? What do you think the best jet ski company is? Tells us in the comments section!
I’ve been wanting to get my first jet ski but it’s hard to make a decision on what to go with. What if I’m not sure which brand I want to go with?
i got my first fx ho cruiser 2018
Hey there Brooks.
That’s a tough dilemma that a lot of new buyers come across. The best advice I can give you is to try testing some different models out first. If you have a friend that owns a jet ski, ask to ride it. Testing out a friends jet ski can help you get a feel for things and maybe shine some light on what you’re looking for.
If you don’t have any friends who own a jet ski, try going to a dealership. Keep in mind they may try to sell you a little, but they can still offer some valuable information.
Don’t let other peoples bias sway you one way or the other. Every company has something good to offer.
I hope that helps some. Good luck on buying your first jet ski! Be sure to let us know how it turns out.
I’ve had Sea Doo’s and Yamaha’s and I kind of agree with this. I’m a little biased since I’ve never owned a Kawi but overall you hit the nail on the head.
I hard that sea-doo was putting a rubber bumper on the bow’.
That would take a hit at about 5 miles per hour. And no damage done to the watercraft.
Will your watercraft do that?
I heard it will comes on a new watercraft and can be installed on a used one.
I bought two top of the line Sea Doo GTX 260 Ltd machines. 2012 models purchased in 2013
I also bought dockside maintenance package. The machines repeatedly failed. The intercooler repeatedly failed and was replaced. Eventually, machine #1 required a rebuilt engine at 100 hours of operation, due to seawater inside cylinders. Now, machine #2 requires engine overhaul because “little plastic parts on the intercooler fracture after a few years and all the coolant leaked out. Also at 100 hours of operation. Sea Doo refused to upgrade the second intercooler, (for the second time) even though the machines are 1 serial number apart. Sum total, it has cost me over $200 an hour to run the machines, plus fuel. My advice: NEVER buy a Sea Doo product
Yamaha are clearly the best pwc’s over all. Their selection, price and especially reliability are the reasons they are #1 in the world.
Glad too see a pretty unbiased review. Seems like some people try to lean towards Sea Doo a lot just because they’re the most popular. I own a Sea Doo, (as well as 2 Yamaha’s) but I’m not going to pretend like they’re the best all around. Lots of way better skis out there depending on the situation! Not to say that I dont love my Sea Doo even with its flaws haha
2013 GTX Seadoo carbon seal is a Major fault design , diasater waiting to happen one day you’ll find your Jetski sinking because of it . If you’re in salt water Your intercooler will leak every second summer, too many plastic parts and bolts Seadoo has a name but overall Garbage spent 1000s on repairs The three cylinder will not keep up to the four cylinders in the long-haul