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 11 people.
Why She Explodes
Manitou has developed its own tube design that provides the sporty handling characteristics of the 23 X-Plode. It’s called SHP for Super High Performance, 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” (12.7 cm) lower than the outer tubes and this creates a pivot point for the boat on which to lean into the turns.
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.
This 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.
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 as 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 eyes as it is comfortable.
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 create an aft facing chaise lounge by flipping the aft seatback forward. Under the armrest is a storage compartment sized for cell phones and wallets.
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.
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, 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-TEC 2-stroke engine, maximum outboard torque is employed to get the boat on plane fast. Water skiers and wakeboarders will love that performance because it makes getting up so much easier. Her turning characteristics make the boat simply fun to drive.
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.
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.
Standard and Optional Features
|CD Stereo||Standard AM/FM Radio only|
|Limited lifetime Yes|
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