Flip the rear seats’ backrests, and you can form twin rear-facing recliners. Up front, you have a pair of forward-facing recliner/settees with storage underneath.Manitou offers many options for customizing your X-Plode, such as the forward-facing painted aluminum wakeboard tower on our test boat, which can be lowered for storage. Our boat also featured padded silver Sea Grass flooring. We cranked up the optional 800-watt Polk Audio system with tweeters and a 10-inch subwoofer that matches the attitude of the rest of the package. Another must-have option is the centerline ski locker.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been on a pontoon, then taking a spin on a Manitou 23 X-Plode will let you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Our test boat was equipped with the Sport Handling Package (SHP), which has a giant 27-inch center tube that bottoms out 5¼ inches lower than the 23-inch outer tubes to help create a pivot point when you turn.
Manitou’s V-Toon technology features lifting strakes on both sides of all tubes, which is unusual. Typically when you have lifting strakes on the outside of the outer tubes, inward lean during turns is inhibited, but thanks to the strake design and deep-set center tube, that’s definitely not the case here. In fact, the 23 X-Plode leans in far enough that when you crank it hard over, the outside tube actually comes clear of the water, resulting in a sick turning radius.Powering our test boat was the new Evinrude G2 E-TEC 225, a powerhouse with a striking, angular design and five changeable color panels and 14 accent color choices, to give it a custom look.
Our Manitou had red graphics, which matched well with Evinrude’s stock red color. Oh yeah, the G2 225 is fast, too. The combination of the V-Toon and Evinrude put the Manitou on plane in 2.7 seconds, and it reached 30 mph in 5.8 seconds. Top speed was a booking-it 51.6 mph. Manitou will rig your boat with any major outboard brand.The X-Plode Series offers a choice of two floorplans: the Standard, which has an L-lounge and a sunpad, and the SRS package, which our test boat featured. The latter delivers convertible seats in the stern: four feet-on-the-deck club seats that can have tables installed in between.