Avalon Catalina DRL 24
Posted: April 1, 2014
Avalon’s newest gives you everything you want without inflicting a case of sticker shock.Every year when we test Avalon pontoons, the one thing we know is we’re going to see something we’ve never seen before, and the Catalina DRL 24’ doesn’t disappoint. This is one of Avalon’s more affordable models, but its designers didn’t forget to make it stylish and luxurious. It features the same two-tone fencing with a swoop-down rail design as on the more upper-crust Paradise line.
This year, one of the eye-grabbers is the optional cabana-style umbrella in the bow section that not only throws a wide swath of shade but looks pretty stylish. Of course, you can go with a full forward Bimini option in addition to the standard amidships ragtop for more coverage, but the umbrella is really easy to deploy — or remove when it’s time to throw down the throttle. Avalon proves that cockpit tables don’t have to be boring with its new optional smoked-glass tables rather than the ubiquitous white-plastic flying saucers. The one in the bow on our test boat has four cupholders and is fitted to receive the umbrella. In the amidships L-shaped seating group — a rarity for a 24-footer — is a larger, amoeba-shaped table that has twin stainless steel cupholders large enough to handle a couple of bottles of vino. There’s even wineglass holders cut into the smoked glass with plenty of room left over for an extensive cheese-and-cracker display.
Our test Catalina is rigged with Avalon’s 5x7 Waveglider option, which gives you twin 25-inch outer tubes and a U-shaped center tube that measures 27 by 24 inches. For additional lift, the tubes have HPP lifting fins along with a Waveshield underskin for better hydrodynamics. The designers at Avalon know that when you get the Waveglider option you’ll be putting it through its watersports paces, so the stainless steel ski tow bar comes with the package. The boat has plenty of power with Suzuki’s DF200 four-stroke, which features a 2.29:1 gear ratio that allows it to swing a bigger prop for more usable thrust. This year, select Suzuki engines, such as the V-6 DF200, come in a choice of white or black to expand your styling choices.
The Catalina got on plane quickly in 3.2 seconds with virtually zero bowrise and could hold plane at 13 mph, if econo-cruising is your thing. Acceleration to 30 mph was a swift 7 seconds, and the Catalina reached a top speed of 41.3 mph. Its happiest cruise speed was 32 mph, which had the Suzuki humming along at 4500 rpm.
The Catalina DRL 24’ rides high in the water thanks to the oversized center tube and an array of lifting strakes. Our test track was the massive Lake Lanier reservoir north of Atlanta, which was surprisingly calm on test day, so we didn’t get a chance to bash it around in waves. But with its scimitar-like nosecones and extra buoyancy, the Catalina DRL should handle rough conditions with the best of them. For folks who cruise on larger bodies of water, Avalon even offers a rough-water package that gives you overkill-like strength, with beefed-up bracing, strategically thicker aluminum and solid welds instead of the usual spot welding. Thanks to the Sea-Star power-assist hydraulic steering that comes standard with the Waveglider package, cranking this 24-footer around in hard turns is easy. The Catalina carves corners very well, but because it has lifting strakes on the outside of its outer tubes, it corners very flat instead of having a pronounced inward lean like you find with other pontoons with oversized center tubes. It even leaned a bit outward in hard right turns, thanks to prop torque.
You’d better bring along the full array of watersports accessories, because the young and young-at-heart will be clamoring for action. The optional centerline locker, set within the huge center tube, is predictably cavernous, and there’s plenty of under-seat storage for ski vests, towlines and towels. For more serious practitioners of watersports, there’s even a Decosport tower option with a top, board racks and speakers. Our model is equipped with the extended rear platform for easy watersports staging with enough room for storing huge inflatables when running. Ski spotters probably have the best seat in the house on a Doublewide Rear Lounger that gives the Catalina its DRL designation. There are pronounced headrests that had me scootching down a bit to keep them above my shoulder blades, but the recline angle is perfect. Its sleigh-bed design also allows you to recline in comfort when facing forward, and in between is a flip-up section that reveals the changing station that can also house a Porta Potti.
Avalon offers an extensive number of options to augment its turnkey standard package. Our test boat’s Waveglider tube package is the way to go if you are into performance and watersports. For buyers looking for a bump in performance, consider the Suzuki DF225, which has the same displacement and weight as the DF200. I also liked the choice of the gray faux-teak deck throughout the boat, which looks great and makes cleanup easy. Another popular non-carpet choice is the sea-grass vinyl flooring. At the helm, there’s room for a flush-mounted Garmin echoMAP 50 GPS/fishfinder. I would also recommend the raised helm platform for better driver visibility. Fishing fans can get an under-seat livewell and a bow-mounted trolling motor.
For entertainment value, adding the rolling Ottoman table/cooler gives you more snack-display square footage. While the standard six-speaker Bluetooth Jenson stereo gets the job done, bumping it up to the Premium sound system gives you a subwoofer and more power. And to bling it up to your flashy standards, go for the entire suite of mood lighting, which includes interior, exterior and underwater blue LED lights. With the triple tube setup, you get a generous 45-gallon fuel tank, but for extended cruising, you can get a 90-gallon tank that resides in the center tube for better balance.
|Beam||8 ft., 6 in.|
|Engines||Suzuki DF200 four-stroke|
|Base Price||w/test power $47,989|
|Standard Equipment||Jensen 6-speaker Bluetooth, Bimini top, Diamond carpeting, twin 25-inch pontoons, vinyl rear deck, 12v aux. plug, aluminum seat frames w/Flow-Thru ventilation|
|Optional Equipment||Aftermarket trailer, electric Bimini top, full camper enclosure, choice of cockpit tables, raised helm w/high-back captain’s chair, woodgrain steering wheel, upgraded upholstery|
Avalon Catalina DRL 24 Owner Review
Purchased By: Terry and Sally Edge , Cross Lane, W.Va.
Purchased At: Lou Wendell Marine Sales, St. Albans, W.Va.
What we liked
- Rear lounge seating
- Attractive styling
- Interior layout
- Fit and finish
- Fantastic ride
What we would change
We have a 150 hp engine, which pushes it fine, but I wish I had gotten it with a larger engine. Since I fish on it, I’m thinking of adding a trolling motor.
Why we bought it
I’ve owned a variety of boats since I was 18, but now that Sally and I have four grown kids and nine grandkids, we need more room on board. Not only does the Avalon Catalina give us the space we need, but we really like its look. I’ve had two-tube pontoons before but found they rode low in the water when fully loaded and tended to bury the bow when crossing big wakes. Having three tubes is definitely the way to go; it rides fantastic and handles large waves well. Good luck getting on the rear lounge seat, since that’s the first one everyone heads to. We keep our boat on the Kanawha River, which is about 100 miles long and is 10 minutes from our house. We go out about every other weekend and often tow two tubes at once since so many want a turn. The kids also kneeboard and wakeboard. If the grandkids are given a chance to watch TV, play video games or ride on the boat, the boat wins every time. We like to head to waterfront restaurants like Grumpy’s, which has a dock. You couldn’t ask for better people to deal with than the staff at Lou Wendell’s. When we bought our pontoon, they set us up with all the gear we needed to head right out.