Avalon Catalina DRL 24

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.

Unique Factor

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.

Performance

Our test Catalina is rigged with Avalon’s 5×7 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.

Handling

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. BW_04-2014_Avalon_02For 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.

Best Uses

You’d better bring along the full array of watersports accessories, because the young and young-at-heart will be clamoring for action.

BW_04-2014_Avalon_05The 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.

Preferred Setup

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.

BW_04-2014_Avalon_03For 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.

Owner Review

Specifications

LOA: 24 ft.
Beam: 8 ft., 6 in.
Fuel: 45 gals.
Engine: Suzuki DF200 four-stroke
Base Price: w/test power $47,989
Standard Equimpent:

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

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