- • Fiberglass sidewalls replace aluminum "fence"
- • Multiple color choices on exterior finish, including custom colors
- • Twin motor mounts for outboards to 300 horsepower
- • Chaise lounge seating fore and aft
- • Optional powder-coated aluminum water sports tower
- • Heavy-gauge stainless steel hardware
The Manitou is an unusual pontoon boat both in design and in performance. She rides on what the company calls V-Toon technology: an oversized center pontoon with a 27" diameter is centered 1.25" below the outer 23" tubes, which allows her to lean into sharp turns like a monohull rather than coming around flat and giving passengers that sliding-off-the-plate feeling that's common in many pontoons.
Positive angle lifting strakes help her get on plane fast as well as giving a bit of an edge to grip the water in tight corners -- this is a pontoon that offers actual excitement afloat, rather than a staid and stately cruise around the lake. Video of the boat in turns show the outside pontoon actually lifting clear of the water, an amazing sight to those of us raised on less muscular versions of the genre.
The Manitou X-Plode XT is a true high performance machine that not only offers impressive speed and acceleration but also handling in line with many monohull runabouts, which pretty much distinguishes her in the pontoon boat genre.
She also has eye appeal thanks to elimination of the usual aluminum safety rails -- double-walled molded fiberglass forms the bulwark all around and provides a palate for some striking multi-color graphics that really set the XT off from the competition.
The Manitou line is the high-performance end of the company's offerings, available in 23, 25, and 27-foot models. The 25 SHP we tested was the new top-of-the-line XT version, which features added graphics and styling to give a sport boat feel while still offering the space and comfort of a high-end pontoon.
She's rated to carry 13, and in a pontoon boat of this size, there is actually room for 13, unlike in many dedicated watersports boats that say they can haul that many. She floats in just 14 inches, making her great for sliding up onto a sandy beach for a swim or poking up shallow creeks for a private picnic. And when it comes to eye appeal, she's in a class of her own among pontoon boats thanks to the sculpted fiberglass sidewalls and bold graphics.
The Manitou X-Plode XT features a bold tri-tone upholstery package that would look at home in a sport boat. She also features furniture upgrades that set her apart from the standard bow and stern couch setups found on most pontoon boats.
Chaise lounge seat backs with contoured bottoms offer exceptional comfort forward, a touch not seen in most pontoons. These furnishings can also function as couches for upright seating due to the padding on the inwales. Like all upholstery throughout the XT models, the heavy gauge marine vinyl has piped edges, and there's the usual storage under. Framing is all rot-proof composite. The bow gate is heavy machined aluminum that offers both security and style, and there's plenty of room on the front deck to handle an anchor or to reach the cleats for tying up at a dock.
The dash is exceptionally clean thanks to a 7" SmartScreen that handles all the boat's electrical functions including the Bluetooth-enabled kicker-boosted sound system as well as the optional remote-controlled retractable wakeboard tower. The stylish tilt wheel links to the SeaStar power steering system, providing effortless steering with no feedback at any speed according to our test skipper.
A low smoked Plexiglas single windshield is standard, but the company also offers a full-width walk-through windshield, adding the sort of protection found in a runabout to the space available in a luxury pontoon. With a pontoon as fast as this one, the broader windshield may make sense.
The captain's chair is a deep bucket with a tall headrest and fold-down arm rests, as is the companion chair to port. The helm station is slightly elevated, giving the skipper a good view over the bow without standing.
Two aft-facing chaise lounges here will likely be the most popular spot on the boat, particularly when there's someone on the towline. The hardware on these seats is heavy-gauge polished stainless steel, like all the hardware throughout the boat, adding eye appeal to durability and functionality.
The center portion of these seats flips up to divide the chaise into two facing booth-style seats, and a mount between them provides a spot to secure a table for two.
A stainless steel gate provides access to the aft swim platform, and a four-step stainless boarding ladder sits between the twin outboards in the dual engine model. The very clean single-tube mounting of the Evinrude E-TEC G2's makes it possible to easily step down into the motor mounts to access the cowling when making daily checks. A pair of aft-facing waterproof speakers pump out lots of sound for those on the towline or swimming off the stern.
The 25 SHP XT rides on Manitou's patented V-Toon technology: a 27" diameter center pontoon is mounted with the center 1.25" below the outer 23" tubes. When the boat is on plane, most of her weight is on the center pontoon, which allows her to lean into sharp turns like a monohull. When she's at rest, the side sponsons are in full contact with the water, providing stability even when several passengers move to one side of the boat.
Reinforced nose cones, swept upward slightly, cut the chop at displacement speeds -- when the boat is on full plane, they're clear of the water. Large splash guards on top of the pontoons deflect spray from the cockpit. A heavy gauge keel strip down the bottom of the pontoons provides abrasion protection when sliding up on a sand or gravel shoreline. Strakes on the tubes help the boat hold in corners, as well as giving a boost when planing.
The pontoons are welded from heavy-gauge .090 aluminum, giving the XT a durable running surface that can handle bumping off a floating limb or a stump now and then.
Hat-shaped, extruded aluminum cross members tying the pontoons together are just 7 inches apart in most areas, assuring an exceptionally solid, long-lasting structure on which the rest of the boat rides. Some other pontoon builders put these members as much as 16 inches apart.
Broad splash guards welded to the top of the pontoons at the bow help keep spray from coming aboard. The upswept nose cones are built of thicker aluminum than the rest of the pontoons. They're brought to a sharp forward entry, protected by heavy welded-on keel strips and pressed and welded stiffeners.
The fiberglass wall finish is available in 12 color combinations, which could make it fun matching up with the many colored cowl options in the Evinrude stable. At an extra cost the buyer can have a custom paint job with pretty much any color combination desired on the exterior wall.
One of the many things we like about the company is that they don't inflate their model designation numbers; the 25 has an actual deck length of 25'10", which in most builders' books is automatically going to be designated a 26-footer. Overall length including the pontoons and the motor mount is 26'4", but Manitou calls her a 25.
Power and Performance
Pushed by twin 200-hp Evinrude E-Tec G2 horses turning Rebel 14 7/8" x 22" 3-blade stainless propellers the 5,400-pound (loaded) Manitou was quick out of the hole at 4.0 seconds, reached 30 in 5.3 seconds, and topped out at 52.4 mph with the engines winding 5650 rpms. Company tests of the 25 SHP with twin 300-Evinrude E-TEC G2's have reportedly topped 60 mph.
Handling. Sharp nose cones with spray deflectors help smooth the ride at lower speeds as they split the chop. The deflectors also help keep water out of the cockpit.
The SHP or Sport Handling Package includes the company's design on the oversized center pontoon, which is mounted below the outside pontoons.
At rest and at low speeds, all three pontoons support the boat, giving stability. But when the boat gets on plane, most of the weight is on the center pontoon, reducing drag as well as giving the boat effectively a V shaped bottom like a monohull, and greatly increasing its ability to corner like a V-hull, leaning into the turns and keeping the ride safe and comfortable for the passengers. Strakes on the lower sections of the pontoons help grip the water, allowing exceptionally sharp turns at speed.
Power assisted SeaStar hydraulic steering is standard, giving effortless handling and no feedback or wheel torque throughout the rpm range.
Test Results. She proved an economical ride for a boat with twin 200's capable of carrying 13 in comfort, maxing at about 2.86 mpg at 2500 rpms and 17.5 mph. There was little change in fuel use when the throttle was eased to 3000 and speed went up to 23.1 mph; the engines used 2.79 mpg. Combined consumption of the two engines was just 6.10 gph at 2500, 8.30 gph at 3000. At WOT, the engines used 34.0 gph and got 1.54 mpg combined. Range with the 90 gallon tank at best planing speed exceeds 230 miles -- a lot of riding on the typical inland lake. The ride was also quiet, not exceeding 80 dBA until the motors were wound north of 4000 rpms and 35.5 mph.
Standard Equipment and Options
The company has an exceptionally detailed and useful website including a configurator that lets you "build" the boat you want digitally, complete with the pricing for each item.
The base 27 is $64,800 without an engine or any options. A 300 hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 in 20" shaft adds $26,150, or a pair of 200-hp G2's, as on the test boat, adds $44,902. The electrically actuated Sport Arch with Bimini is $9,500.
An option we might also order is the center in-tube storage, opening up a lot of space for all the extra gear that accumulates in a watersports/family weekend machine like this one -- it's $1,500.
Elimination of carpet is a great idea for anyone who has ever experienced kids and dogs climbing back aboard from a muddy shoreline on a carpeted deck--the composite teak will clear with a quick shot of the hose -- it's an $1895 option.
Layout. The standard layout features the usual fore and aft L-shaped couches seen in nearly all pontoon boats. The SRS version has two chaise lounges aft, a companion seat to port adjacent the helm, and two L-couches with chaise lounge seatbacks forward. And the SRW model features the chaise lounge layout aft plus the wrap-around, walk-through windshield, a big plus for those who like to extend their boating seasons into the cooler months. While a windshield is pretty much superfluous on the average sub-30 mph 'toon, on a boat that performs at this level it could be a definite plus.
Semi-custom layout is offered by Manitou--so long as the customer's requested layout can be accomplished with existing furniture in the line, the company will accommodate nearly any request.
A price tag of over $100,000 fully-rigged and with twin V6's makes it clear that the Manitou X-Plode XT is a different breed from the $30,000, 30-mph econo-toons that have been the norm on most lakes for years. But clearly this is the direction a significant portion of the market is heading, and Manitou is at the vanguard. If she's in your price bracket, she's well worth careful consideration.
Manitou provides a transferrable limited lifetime warranty on the deck, as well as on the structural components including the pontoons, motor mounts, understructure, fence assemblies, and Bimini top frames.
A five-year warranty protects the upholstery vinyl, Bimini top fabric, carpet, and mooring covers.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Manitou 25 X-Plode XT SHP (2016-) is 52.4 mph (84.3 kph), burning 34.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 128.69 liters per hour (lph).
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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