Boat Buyer's Guide 2014
Author: Alan Jones
For uninformed boaters who still cling to the notion that pontoons are for people who prefer a more sedate way of boating, half an hour behind the wheel of Manitou’s 25 X-Plode ought to fix that misconception. Especially when it’s sporting a Suzuki DF250SS outboard and the triple-tube Sport Handling Package (SHP) our test boat features, which has a larger center tube that is set lower to create a pivot point so pontoon owners can crank their boats in crazy-tight turns.
With lifting strakes on both sides of each pontoon, our test 25 X-Plode rode high in the water and got out of the hole quickly with a time to plane of 2.8 seconds. The Suzuki uses a big-block 4.0L V-6 to deliver effortless power, which helped it push the Manitou to 30 mph in 7.6 seconds during our sea trial. The six strakes also help produce a really flat wake at 30 mph, which slalom skiers will love. Top speed was a brisk 48.7 mph, and when people see the 25 X-Plode coming at them at full throttle, baring its razor-sharp Barracuda nosecone blades like a waterborne version of Wolverine, ’tis a fearsome sight.
But the 25 X-Plode is more than just a hair-on-fire speed and handling thrill ride; it’s also a great watersports platform and a comfortable entertainer rolled into one. Our boat features the Split Rear Seating (SRS) floor plan, which gives owners twin rear recliners, which are different than any others I’ve seen. On these, the center section can be flipped rearward to form a backrest to create face-to-face club chair seating. When they’re in the up position, a side-mounted table can be placed in between for snacking or game playing. Up front is a pair of chaise loungers, and amidships are twin captain’s chairs that are newly designed for 2014. At the raised helm station, the captain grips a classy Gussi Italian sport wheel and stares at a standard Lowrance Elite-4 color GPS/fishfinder. Our boat features the upgraded Infinity stereo system with a subwoofer that definitely rocks the Casbah. Also new for this model year is the lime-green color scheme of our test boat, which is equipped with the optional bleached-gray faux teak partially covered by a gray Sea Grass snap-on mat that might sound drab but looks great.