Minn Kota vs. MotorGuide
The Minn Kota vs. MotorGuide debate has been raging for years, and is reminicient of long-type rivalries like Chevy vs. Ford or the Yankeess vs. the Red Sox. But is there actually one brand that DOES makes a better trolling motor once all the emotions and personal stories are stripped away? We try to answer this question by looking at four different criteria - quality, value, features and support.
In our experience, both MotorGuide and Minn Kota make quality products that you can count on. Both have a long tradition of making well-known trolling motors, and both lines are still manufactured in the United States. Like any widely distributed products, you'll hear anecdotal stories of friends who had nothing but problems with their Minn Kota / MotorGuide motors and swear on one brand or the other. But overall, we think both motors are well built and reliable.
When you're investing hundreds - potentially thousands - of dollars, you want to make sure you're doing so wisely! Between the two brands, MotorGuide tends to offer a bit more bang-for-the-buck. When comparing motors with similar specs, MotorGuide tends to have a slight edge in terms of cost.
For example, a Motorguide Wireless series motor is approximately $75 cheaper than a comparable PowerDrive V2 motor with the CoPilot wireless remote accessory. When stepping up to larger motors, MotorGuide's Tour series line is also approximately $100 less than comparable Minn Kota Fortrex motors.
Is it possible to make perfect motor-to-motor comparisons? No. Each motor will have slightly different features and construction features that affect the price. However, MotorGuide does tend to have a slight edge on Minn Kota motors in terms of pricing for similar models.
Minn Kota clearly is ahead of MotorGuide when it comes to offering a more advanced and robust feature set on their trolling motors. For years, Minn Kota has offered AutoPilot technology, a feature not available on MotorGuide motors. And Minn Kota's introduction a few years ago of their GPS powered i-Pilot technology put them ever further ahead of MotorGuide in terms of advanced motor control.
But it's not just advanced options where Minn Kota leads; their motors simply seem to have more well-thought out design elements and features. From lift-assisting hydraulic mounts to composite guaranteed-for-life shafts to spring-protected shaft mounts, the Minn Kota line simply offers a richer feature set all around. If you enjoy the conveniences and comforts of a feature-rich trolling motor, Minn Kota will undoubtedly be your best choice.
WINNER: Minn Kota
Support takes a lot of forms, so we've broken it down into three areas: warranty, phone and service center support.
All Minn Kota motors - regardless of price or model - come with a two year warranty. MotorGuide warranties on the other hand vary based on the motor type. Their cheaper motors tend to have one and two year warranties, while their higher-end models carry extended three year warranties.
If you're shopping for a higher-end motor, the extended warranty with MotorGuide is definitely a plus.
We spend a lot of time on the phone with Minn Kota - for business purposes and on behalf of our customers - and are pleased to report they offer outstanding phone support. Their techs are all very knowledgable, and they are always willing to help solve problems. For example, when a customer calls us to report a piece that was missing and/or damaged on their new motor, Minn Kota is fantastic at simply sending out a brand new part at no charge. Great service all around.
We're not as impressed with MotorGuide's phone support. They aren't willing to send out replacement parts for new motors like Minn Kota is, and we've generally found it's harder to get help and information from their support staff team. While their phone support isn't terrible - it's definitely not on par with Minn Kota's excellent service.
Having a service center close is incredibly convenient if your motor breaks, so we looked at the number of service each manufacturer offers. The results were surprising. In the Northern part of the country, Minn Kota and MotorGuide have just about the same number of repair centers. But in the Southern half of the country, MotorGuide boasts more than 2.5 times more repair centers than Minn Kota! If you're in the South, you'll definitely want to keep this in mind when making your decision.
The Final Verdict
Unfortunately with two draws and one win apiece for each of the brands, it's difficult to declare a clear winner. But we can offer you some solid buying advice given our experience:
If you're a value-conscience buyer who simply wants a reliable, frills-free motor, then MotorGuide is likely a great choice for you. MotorGuide's slight cost advantage and no-nonsense design will certainly appeal to a large number of fishermen.
But if you're willing to spend just a bit more and are concerned with the feature set and functionality of your motor, we'd strongly recommend a Minn Kota. Their motors offer a much more robust feature set and tend to be ahead of the curve with technologies like AutoPilot and i-Pilot.
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