Jet Boat vs. Inboard Boat

If you are thinking of buying a boat, finally deciding to make the purchase is always easier said than done. There are usually multiple options to weigh out, and as much as everyone would love to, it is not always wise to jump straight in and make a purchase. 

With that in mind, if you are looking to buy a jet boat or an inboard boat and need information before purchasing, you have come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know before buying the boat that fits you the most so you can begin your marine adventures! 

The Difference Between A Jet Boat And An Inboard

A notable difference between a jet boat and an inboard boat is its impeller placement. Unlike standard marine engines that lay underneath the boat’s hull, jet boats employ an impeller contained in the drive unit. The impeller siphons water just below the river surface and disperses it out the exhaust port, propelling the boat forward and allowing it to run in less than six inches of water! Therefore, if you are looking for the best boat for shallow waters, a jet boat may just be the right choice for you. Jet boats are far more widely used than inboard boats due to their ability to navigate shallow or rocky rivers safely. 

As previously mentioned, inboard boats are less common due to the flexibility of jet boats; nonetheless, inboard boats are quickly gaining appeal among river anglers. As the name implies, the engine sits within the vessel in an inboard boat rather than hanging off the transom. This design allows for a more even distribution of weight and more efficient water flow through the jet pump.

Let’s take a closer look at the key factors, advantages, and disadvantages of each boat to see which one best suits your needs:


The most significant benefit of a jet boat is the extensive range of boat and engine manufacturers available. The engine sizes available are incredibly adaptable, with a power range of 25 to 225 horsepower. The boat's exact size and layout are also entirely up to you - with sizes ranging from 14 to 20 feet in length that allow you to select the vessel that best suits your needs.

Compatibility and Availability 

Another critical advantage of jet boats is their engine compatibility. In most cases, jet boat engines can be swapped between other crafts and upgraded with minimal effort due to their adaptability. If you were to do the same for an inboard boat, the procedure of replacing engines requires significant modification to the bottom of the boat where the engine and jet drive are located. In addition, the market for inboard engines is substantially smaller and offers fewer options.


An inboard boat has the benefit of being able to reload its jet pump while maintaining speed, whereas a jet boat slows down to reload its jet. This is because water enters the bottom of the jet intake in a jet boat, rotates 180 degrees, and then is expelled through the exhaust housing, leading to a 30% reduction in horsepower. With an inboard boat, the water goes directly through the impeller and out the exhaust housing after a brief 28-degree ramp, minimizing the need to slow down. As a result, its process enhances its performance and efficiency over that of a jet boat.


Due to the extensive range of jet boats available to choose from, the same goes for its prices. Prices of jet boats can vary from $4,500 to $15,000. Factors such as size and engine power play a part in the final cost of your boat. However, the best way to determine the price of the boat you want is through its engine size. Most jet packages for boats between 14 and 17 feet in length will be much less expensive than bigger jet boats. If you want a jet boat with more horsepower and larger pumps, the cost will be equivalent to an inboard within the vessel. So, if you want a powerful and efficient boat, albeit in a higher price range, an inboard boat may be a good choice.


Maintenance on jet boats and inboard boats depend on how many hours the boat sees in the water per year. The most significant difference between maintaining an inboard boat and a jet boat is that the drive bearing must be greased. The drive bearing of a jet boat should be lubricated after 10 hours of usage and purged every 30 to 40 hours. On the other hand, inboard boats do not require this task, which puts the inboard boat at a slight advantage in this scenario. 

Both inboard and jet boats will occasionally need to clear their intake grates of debris. The difference between the inboard and jet boat grate maintenance is that a jet boat engine may be tilt-trimmed out of the water to access the grate for cleaning, but an inboard grate is positioned on the bottom of the boat approximately 20 inches from the stern and can be accessed with a small garden rake—the ability to clean the grate while in the water is an advantage with owning a jet boat.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages between jet boats and inboard boats before your purchase helps you make an informed decision on which boat is best for your requirements. Now, you can look forward to your next aquatic adventure!