Boat Buyer's Guide 2014
Author: Alan Jones
SunChaser brings a new level of comfort, performance and affordability to the world of pontoons with its Classic 8524 LRDH. While the name Classic might conjure up a stodgy legacy model, the 2014 version is anything but, with an updated, contemporary look and feel. Staying current is what has kept sister companies Starcraft and Smoker Craft at the top of their game for 110 years and 90 years, respectively. And backing up its products is a common theme across the board with a Lifetime +6 warranty that covers the hull and structure for life and all components, carpet, electronics and upholstery for six years, and it is transferable to a second owner.
The LRDH floor plan features two luxurious rear-facing chaise loungers at the stern that reside inside the fence, so people reclining can enjoy the view while cruising. There are two more recliner couches in the bow, so no one will suffer “chaise envy” aboard this pontoon. Under the hinged seat bottoms is loads of storage within the roto-molded frames. Outside-the-rail deck space has been increased over previous models for easier passenger egress. For watery fun, our test boat is equipped with a large ski tow bar that keeps the tow rope high above the outboard. On the starboard side is a boarding ladder with large swimming pool-style hooped grabrails to accommodate the perpetual-motion machine that is the nonstop frenzy of kids jumping off the faux-teaked back deck and climbing back aboard.
Our test Classic 8524 has the third-tube option, which helped it get out of the hole easier and ride high in the water. The package also includes an underskin for reduced drag. A Yamaha F150 four-stroke — only half the max horsepower — proved to be just enough for most activities. It pushed the 8524 on plane in only 2.3 seconds and the reached 30 mph in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 33.6 mph. To bump up the attitude a little and reach slalom skiing speeds without pushing the engine, a good choice would be Yamaha’s new lightweight 200 hp outboard. The captain sits behind an upscale helm station that is on a raised platform on our test boat for better visibility. To port, the copilot gets an identical high-backed recliner helm chair with arm rests.