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Marine Electronics Journal Blog

Best autopilots for 2017

Below are seven autopilots that represent the state-of-the-art in marine cruise control technology. The lineup is part of an exercise we do every year at Marine Electronics Journal that we call the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics. It works this way—we ask manufacturers to name the one model in their product line of, say, fishfinders, multi-function displays or radars, that they consider to be their best. 

We’re not looking for the most expensive or even the most technologically advanced piece of equipment. In some cases, manufacturers name a rock-solid product that has earned the title of Best & Brightest by simply performing as advertised year after year. In other cases, the products harness innovations that are on the cutting edge of marine technology.

There are 18 categories of electronics in this year’s Best & Brightest roundup. Last week we told you about radars. In subsequent weeks we'll roll out the best VHFs, Automatic Identification Systems, personal survival gear and a whole lot more.

B&G Triton 2

The Triton 2 is a smart, multi-purpose instrument featuring a full-color display and modern glass helm styling. The display, paired with a Triton2 Pilot Controller keypad, is a fully functional control head for compatible B&G autopilot systems. Delivering clear digital instruments and intuitive on-screen menus, the Triton 2 is designed for use in all conditions. Views of wind data, speed, depth, engine data, autopilot status and more are available at a glance. The LCD panel is optically bonded to its protective glass covering, eliminating the possibility of condensation or fogging within the display. Integrating with B&G multi-function displays and glass helm systems, the Triton 2 can also function as a standalone instrument display and autopilot controller aboard smaller vessels.


Furuno NavPilot 711C

The NavPilot 711C is designed for inboard or outboard vessels. This easy-to-use autopilot incorporates Furuno’s Safe Helm and Power Assist modes, along with their exclusive Sabiki mode. Safe Helm temporarily disables the NavPilot control when manual helm changes are sensed. Power Assist reduces steering effort, similar to power steering on a car. These modes enhance the safety of NavPilot and provide a unique interface to the vessel’s steering system, delivering excellent comfort and control from any helm. Sabiki mode lets the autopilot control the outboards while you are drifting astern, letting you focus on fishing instead of steering. Also, Sabiki mode is perfect for jigging for bait and bottom fishing, or when you are trying to keep your position while waiting for a drawbridge to open.


Garmin GHP Reactor 

The GHP Reactor Hydraulic Autopilot, with its solid-state nine-axis AHRS, mounts anywhere, in any orientation and requires minimal commissioning. It reacts to the sea to hold course even when the boat is pitching and rolling. The SmartPump brushless motor drive eliminates the risk of rudder hard over. Patented Shadow Drive technology automatically disengages the autopilot if you take the helm and re-engages when you hold a steady course. Pair with a quatix GPS marine watch or wireless remote to remain in control of your autopilot from anywhere on your boat. Combined with a compatible Garmin networked chartplotter and BlueChart g2 Vision charts, you can enjoy optional features like Auto Guidance, which automatically steers GPS paths.


Raymarine Evolution EV150

As the newest member of the award-winning Evolution autopilot line, the Raymarine EV150 Hydraulic Autopilot System is engineered specifically to meet the needs of small- to medium-sized hydraulically steered vessels with a steering ram capacity between 4.9 (80 cc) and 14.0 cubic inches (230 cc). The system is for 12-volt DC electrical systems only. The EV150 features all the same Evolution series features that demanding boaters have come to know and appreciate including simple setup and fully automatic calibration. Like its siblings, the EV150 features Evolution TrackIQ algorithms for tighter track-keeping and faster track acquisition. Raymarine’s patented Hydro-Balance technology automatically compensates for deficiencies in the boat’s hydraulics and adjusts automatically for asymmetrical loads caused by propeller walk and unbalanced steering rams.  



The compact, affordable SI-TEX SP-110 autopilot is an excellent solution for vessels with either hydraulic or mechanical steering. Rugged and reliable, the SP-110’s Virtual Rudder Feedback eliminates the need for a separate rudder feedback unit, simplifying installation and reducing overall cost. The splash-proof control head measures just 4.3 inches square for easy mounting on any boat. A transflective LCD display shows course and function data in large digits. The SP-110 is designed for simple operation using four buttons, delivering better than 1 degree course detection and GPS mode for easy automatic waypoint steering. It can be easily paired with SI-TEX’s waterproof, floatable SRS-100 wireless remote for steering control anywhere onboard.


Simrad AP48

The new AP48 autopilot combines the same intuitive interface of the compact AP44 with a larger rotary control dial, dedicated ‘dodge’ keys, and other extended keypad controls. The AP48’s rotary dial provides precise steering control, while dodge keys enable instant heading changes in one-degree or 10-degree increments. Designed for optimal control in all conditions, the AP48’s large buttons can be used with wet or gloved hands. To ensure optimal visibility in all weather, the AP48’s full-color LCD panel is optically bonded to its protective glass covering, eliminating the possibility of condensation or fogging within the display. Transflective LCD technology makes use of reflected sunlight to brighten rather than obscure the screen, delivering excellent day-time visibility and lower power consumption compared to traditional backlit displays.


ComNav Commander P2

The Commander P2 autopilot is tailored for commercial fleets, fishing boats and tugs. Featuring Intelligent Steering Technology or IST, the autopilot learns steering responses and continually improves its performance as it completes its route. It sports a new tow-boat feature: the adaptable Commander P2 provides precise track steering with NAV Mode. Sea State automatically adjusts for reliable course holding in all weather conditions. With proportional rate control, the innovative unit supplies a gentle and smooth response at fast cruising speeds. The pilot includes a number of pre-set turns. Adjustments can be made on the fly, and port and starboard dodge buttons help avoid collisions. Thruster assist provides dead-ahead slow or station keeping. The P2’s Auto Setup automatically detects and calibrates steering drive unit and compass.


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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 2 ( 9 comments)

Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
Laurie Seibert:(2/16/2017 2:00:20 AM) "Thanks EV Collier for sharing this informative blog. It is important to know the causes of EMI filters. We use these parts in our daily life in the electronic products so we should know that what are the causes are cures of EMI Filters.

Great job and keep updating!

Laurie Seibert"
Yes:(2/10/2017 7:22:40 AM) "EMI/RFI filter causes and cure. There are very few people who share such information with everyone. I was looking to read such informative blog!

Great job!

Lisa Wilson
hugo:(1/30/2016 2:00:32 AM) "Why is no integrated ais transceiver available? Only recivers.


Each AIS system consists of one VHF transmitter, two VHF TDMA receivers, one VHF DSC receiver, and standard marine electronic communications links (IEC 61162/NMEA 0183) to shipboard display and sensor systems (AIS Schematic). Position and timing information is normally derived from an integral or external global navigation satellite system (e.g. GPS) receiver, including a medium frequency differential GNSS receiver for precise position in coastal and inland waters. Other information broadcast by the AIS, if available, is electronically obtained from shipboard equipment through standard marine data connections. Heading information and course and speed over ground would normally be provided by all AIS-equipped ships. Other information, such as rate of turn, angle of heel, pitch and roll, and destination and ETA could also be provided. Check out:"
Islander Sailboat Info:(12/4/2015 9:49:32 AM) "Great post!! This is the missing introduction I've been looking for. Thank you for taking a complicated subject and making it very easy to understand."
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