The Bennington 25 RFBWA is a luxury pontoon that drives like a sports car and can handle a wide range of activities.
Buyers looking for a no-compromise pontoon loaded with a wide variety of options will find they are covered by the Bennington 25 RFBWA. And given a choice of 13 bold colors, 13 color accents and eight upholstery colors, we’re not likely to see two that are alike on a given lake.
When a boat company creates a boat name with a lot of letters strung together, the letters tell a story. In the case of the Bennington 25 RFBWA, the sequence also describes what’s unique about it. The number 25 is a little misleading, though; the boat is 27 feet, 3 inches long, but the pontoons are 25 feet, 4 inches. The first letter stands for R-Series, which is near the top of Bennington’s luxury food chain. Only the Q-Series is swankier and can be easily identified by the raked bow section that gives it a sleeker look. The R-Series has more traditional vertical fencing, and the exterior features a new Storm Graphics option ($1,278) that looks like angry clouds splashed on by Jackson Pollock.
The “FB” in the name calls out the Fastback fiberglass stern pods that give the boat a sportier angled sheerline and create more entertaining space, including four built-in cupholders that invite passengers to hang out on the extended swim platform. The “W” is for the full wraparound smoked windshield, something not seen on many pontoon boats. It’s not really tall enough to provide much protection but certainly adds to the cool factor. The final letter in the name is for a forward-facing sport arch that also supports a 10-foot Bimini top and has a ski tow for watersports. A Power Cladded Sports Tower with Roswell speakers can be added for $16,297.
Bennington offers the 25 RFBWA with a huge number of power options, including all the major outboard companies and electric options from Torqeedo and Minn Kota. Our test boat featured the new Mercury 300 FourStroke, which is now a V-8, but anyone who doesn’t want that Mercury has 54 more choices that range from 150 hp (don’t do it!) all the way to a Mercury Racing 400. Buyers can take the power all the way to its max with Yamaha’s 425 XTO Offshore, a torque-beast of a V-8 that can swing up to a 17 1/8-inch prop, which is bigger in diameter than a Domino’s extra-large pizza (16 inches).
The Mercury 300 FourStroke hits the performance/cost sweet spot. It adds $22,499 to the price tag, which might sound like a lot until it’s compared to the $41,087 cost of the Mercury Racing 400 (with the Cold Fusion white color variant). An aforementioned Yamaha 425 that includes a built-in power steering system power will add $32,834 to the cost.
The Bennington 25 RFBWA performed well with the Mercury 300 FourStroke pushing it, getting on plane in 2.8 seconds with no hesitation. I clocked it to 30 mph in 6 seconds flat and trimmed the engine out to help it reach the max 6000 rpm, which netted a top speed of 45.7 mph.
Bennington bundles the 25 RFBWA with the Elliptical Sport Package (ESP), which means it will have fantastic handling. A giant 32-inch center tube is elliptically shaped to be flatter on the bottom, to get on plane quickly and help during hard-over turns. This tube generates so much lift there’s no need for lifting strakes, which most boat builders install on center tubes. The only strakes on this boat are on the inside of the 25-inch outer tubes. This setup allows the Bennington 25 RFBWA to bank steeply in turns, thanks to the pivot point created by the oversize center tube and its lack of pushback (which wouldn’t be the case if it had strakes on the outside of the outer tubes). This maneuverability will come in handy for picking up downed skiers or when the driver feels like showin’ what she’s got. But always warn passengers before spinning the beautiful custom Corvina wheel like it’s a fad stress-relief toy.
Entertaining is high on the list of activities at which the Bennington 25 RFBWA excels. It features a quad layback lounge layout that yields plenty of seating for its 15-passenger rating. I was a bit concerned by the dark gray vinyl that dominates the two-tone upholstery look for 2019. Usually, dark vinyl on a sunny day is a recipe for searing leg flesh, but it remained cool on a warm northern Indiana test day thanks to the high-tech Simtex vinyl.
An under-seat cooler stores refreshments and then drains overboard when the weekend’s over, and there’s a built-in trash can for empties. An oversized black rectangle- shaped bow table is a $428 option that will provide plenty of snack presentation space. Bennington’s solution for tunes gets an upscale start with a Rockford Fosgate amp and lighted RGB Kicker speakers. A serious audio upgrade comes in the form of a Roswell six-speaker ($6,372) system that includes tower speakers. Or beef up the stereo’s low end with a Kicker subwoofer and amp for $1,691.
With the tower and enough power to push it, the 25 RFBWA makes an excellent watersports pontoon. For board storage, a wakeboard rack costs $1,772, and a centerline storage locker ($1,507) will provide even more storage space thanks to this pontoon’s center tube. To create a lower tow point, which is recommended for towing tubes, a removable ski tow pylon is available ($1,104). Although Bennington doesn’t offer a fishing model in its upper echelon of luxury pontoons, buyers can get a four-rod horizontal rack ($128) and fish off the roomy fore or aft deck.
For buyers on a tight budget, the Bennington 25 RFBWA is probably not their cup of Dom Perignon, since its bottom line runs to $122,525 with the Mercury 300 FourStroke and mandatory options such as power steering, a centerline fuel tank that bumps the capacity from 37 to 50 gallons, the ESP tube package, pillowtop upholstery and a fold-down tower. Its standard feature list includes such goodies as a pair of new-for-2019 V2 Pure Comfort reclining captain’s chairs that have adjustable height pedestals, a master power switch that allows the driver to shut down all systems with one push of the button, woven vinyl and a 10-foot Bimini top.
Anyone checking a lot of options boxes might as well get a dream pontoon by adding a few more options, such as the Blackout Luxe package our test boat had, which includes black anodized rails, an exterior accent panel ($388 by itself), matching hardware, and either a powder-coated or black anodized tower. A bow- or side-gate seat ($888) maximizes seating, and underwater RGB lighting ($1,103) enhances nighttime ambiance.