Manitou’s 23 X-Plode blurs the line between a sporty-handling pontoon boat with a luxury platform suitable for entertaining the most discriminating guests. She makes use of Manitou’s proprietary SHP performance package, and that’s where her agile handling comes from. Inside, high-end furniture with ultra-soft Diamonte Marine vinyl defines the boat still further.
AM/FM Infinity Radio with Streaming Bluetooth and 4 speakers
Fishfinder with GPS
Furniture includes chaise head and arm rests
Ski tow bar
Stern toy box
Depth gauge with air and water temperature
24 can hard side cooler
Gussi 930 steering wheel
Nose cones with anti-spray splash fins
Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) Specifications
24' 4'' 7.42 m
3,125 lbs. 1,417 kg
8' 6'' 2.59 m
3,677 lbs. 1,668 kg
44 gal. 167 L
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
The Manitou 23 X-Plode has a LOA OF 24’4” (7.42 m) and a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m).
The mission of the 23 X-PLODE is to develop a pontoon boat that has the desirable handling characteristics more like that of a fiberglass V-hull boat, and the luxurious feel of a sedate, up-scale power cruiser, all in a pontoon boat package that can entertain up to 12 people.
Why She Explodes
Fine Tooning. Manitou has developed its own tube design that provides the sporty handling characteristics of the 23 X-PLODE. It’s called SHP for Sport Handling Package, and it consists of three tubes, with the center being oversized. The outer tubes measure 23” (58.4 cm) in diameter each, while the center tube is 27” (68.6 cm). The center tube is also 5.25” (12.7 cm) lower than the outer tubes and this creates a pivot point for the boat on which to lean into the turns.
Quality Build. But design characteristics are only part of the equation. Build quality is also a major factor. The nose cones are thicker than the rest of the tubes so they can take the impact of waves that much better. Additionally, they are reinforced with pressed-in stiffeners that add strength much like a crease in a sheet of paper keeps the paper from bending in the middle. Splash guards are added to the tops of the nose cones, and full length chines, 9” (22.9 cm) wide run down the full length of both sides of all tubes. These give the boat life as well as knocking down spray.
The nose cones are reinforced with pressed in stiffeners. Spray rails are added to the tops.
The center tube is mounted lower than the outer tubes creating a pivot point for the boat to roll into the turns on.
Full length strakes are added to both sides of each tube. They add lift and knock down the spray.
The 23 X-Plode is engineered to handle an outboard rating of up to 250 hp, and that’s what we tested her with. With the Evinrude E-TEC 250 turning a 17 Rebel propeller, we reached a top speed of 47.3 mph at 5750 rpm. At that speed we were burning 25.8 gph giving us a range of 73 miles.
Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and was 19.1 mph. That produced a sedate ride with a 7.06 gph fuel burn which meant a range of 107 miles and an endurance of 5 hours and 36 minutes while still maintaining a 10% reserve.
Exploding Out of the Hole. We had a quick time to plane of only 3.2 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 3.5 seconds, and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 6.1 seconds.
As for handling, she sure is quick to respond to the helm. She’s clearly acclimated to watersports so break out the skis, tubes, or whatever is most desirable to drag behind. She stays dry crossing wakes thanks to the splash guards so she can handle chop well. And there’s no tendency to lean to the outside of the turn. She accelerates from a nearly level attitude and settles back into the water the same way.
The luxury isn’t so much evident as the X-PLODE is boarded, but certainly is when sitting in any of the seats. Soft and plush only begins to describe the feel. But aside from that, the quality of the seats is noteworthy. Multi-toned soft touch all-weather marine grade vinyl is used throughout with a bead of contrasting welting that draws the eye to the highlighted colors that we find is as pleasing to the eye as it is comfortable.
The bow has the usual layout of dual couches to either side of the forward entry gate. Note the red welting that adds definition and color.
Ultra-soft padding, soft-touch two-tone materials and red welting highlight the seats. The flip-up armrests are another welcome addition to the equation.
The usual accommodations for storage are under the seats, but the high-quality hinges allow the seats to remain open without having to be held.
Storage under the seat backs is accessed by lifting the cushion straight up. This allows full use of the entire opening. This compartment is also accessible from the door to the side of the helm console. Inside is a carry-on cooler.
Blue rope lighting serves as an attractive courtesy illumination after the sun goes down. Speakers are stainless steel. The faux teak decking has a low-maintenance gray washed-out look.
That blue courtesy lighting also extends to the stainless drink holders.
The cool, blue illumination extends to the exterior as well with these rope lights under the deck, just above the pontoons. When cruising on a lake at night the 23 X-PLODE with its exotic mood lighting should capture the imaginations of the landlubbers and other boaters.
Both the captain and the “admiral” get the same comfortable seat that swivels, slides, and reclines with self leveling armrests. Both also have flip-up bolsters.
Normally we see a layout that has another set of couches, or a single couch and a sun pad in the stern, both equally limiting and without creativity.
Manitou went in a whole new direction, and it’s not only representative of its out-of-the-box thinking, but adds a whole new level of functionally to the boat.
The Floor Plan. It’s called the SRS floorplan and consists of dual booth style seats to either side of the stern, and they allow for two people to sit opposite one another, or a single person to sit facing forward or aft, and even creates an aft facing chaise lounge by flipping the aft seatback forward. Under the armrest is a storage compartment sized for cell phones and wallets.
With dual booth-style seats across the stern, a creative level of functionality is added to the most important part of the boat.
Opposing seating makes for a convenient gathering area, as well as an intimate dining area with the addition of a side mount pedestal table.
With the aft seatback flipped forward, an aft-facing chaise is created.
Behind the seats, the geometry doesn’t lend itself to safety gates, so Manitou went with these safety bars instead. Notice how the low maintenance faux teak decking extends all the way to the stern.
The helm console and seat are on an elevated platform for better visibility over the occupants in the forward seats. Gauges are mounted to billet aluminum with a Lowrance Elite 4 GPS in the center. Below and to the left is a high-end Infinity stereo with streaming Bluetooth capability.
The gauges are mounted to billet aluminum and flank a Lowrance GPS. This is one of the classiest instrument panels we have ever seen on a pontoon boat.
The stereo streams Bluetooth music from smartphones creating a more convenient remote control.
The switch panel is attractive. One of these is the horn switch, which we would like to see stand-out more.
The helm is well designed for good looks and functionality. Note the high-tech-looking steering wheel.
High Style with Taste. In our mind what separates the Manitou 23 X-PLODE from most other toons on the market is the builder's attention to detail in every aspect of the vessel. The deck is a carefully selected design of material and color that is attractive and functional. The upholstery has been styled by a specialist and executed with panache. Details such as the blue mood lighting, billet aluminum instrument panel and high-tech steering wheel all combine to produce a pontoon boat that is tasteful and distinctive.
Performance and Handling. The 23's performance and handling speak for themselves. With the powerful 250-hp Evinrude E-Tech 2-stroke engine, maximum outboard torque is employed to get the boat on plane fast. Water skiers and wakeboards will love that performance because it makes getting up so much easier. Her turning characteristics make the boat simply fun to drive.
We think the company met its goal of blending luxury, style, practicality and performance together in a single boat that is very much more than the sum of its parts.
Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) is 47.3 mph (76.1 kph), burning 25.80 gallons per hour (gph) or 97.65 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) is 23.3 mph (37.5 kph), and the boat gets 2.66 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.13 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 105 miles (168.98 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 250-hp Evinrude E-TEC.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) Standard and Optional Equipment
AM/FM Radio only
= Standard = Optional
Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) Warranty
Manitou 23 X-Plode SHP (2014-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
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