Mission of the Premier 290 Grand Entertainer
With the 290 Grand Entertainer, the name and mission couldn’t be clearer. This is a high-end boat on a mission to provide her guests with the most comfortable entertainment platform to grace the lake or river that she’ll be plying – but “entertain” in more than one way. First, with her full bar, mini galley, and large deck with comfortable in-the-round seating she is a party vessel extraordinaire. Second, powered by twin 300-hp Yamahas she is also at the same time one of the fastest and most watersports-oriented pontoon boats on the planet – one sure to provide lots of entertainment of a different sort. Taken together, the Premier 290 is very much the “Grand Entertainer.” In a word, she is designed to be the coolest vessel on the lake, bar none.
There are three entry points to the 290 Grand Entertainer but really, only two are needed. On our test boat the forward gate was blocked by a removable section that created continual U-shaped seating from one side to the other. And since she's designed to hold 18 people, having the extra seat is an appropriate trade-off to using the bow gate. But hey, if the gate really needs to be used this seat slides out-of-the-way easily enough. The other two gates are to the portside amidships, and the stern.
Premier has built its reputation upon giving the customer what is wanted and that often means building something a little unconventional. In fact the company tells us that some of its best innovations have come at the suggestion of customers. Since the builder arms to please, a consumer wanting a slightly different layout should contact a Premier dealer and see what can be done.
Flexsteel is Best.
As for the furniture itself, it's all high-end Flexsteel brand seating that takes comfort to new levels. Corrosion-resistant spring steel straps under the seat provide a cushioning effect that works when either the butt is planted into the seat hard, or when running through chop. However, our experience on board the 290 Grand Entertainer indicates that the second point is moot. Scooting back and forth across the wake of the camera boat showed a comfort level that wouldn't even spill the drinks at the bar! The bases of all the seats are roto-cast molded plastic with articulating hinges allowing easy access underneath the cushions. Components are marinized, fully sprung, and corrosion resistant. The materials exceed ASTM B117 Salt Spray Exposure Testing as Rated by DuPont Powder Coatings USA, according to Flexsteel.Premier is the only builder of pontoon boats that we know of that uses furniture made by Flexsteel.
Changing Room/Pump-Out Head.
To the port side, the lounge seat lifts to reveal a changing room/head compartment. Many pontoon boats have a changing compartment, but none that we’ve seen match the sophistication, size and utility of the one installed on the 290 Grand Entertainer. It has enough space not only for changing but at the same time also allows room for an optional pump-out head. And note that this boat has a pump-out head, not a Porta-Potti.
Much like the couches, the helm seat is made by Flexsteel and is far and away among the most comfortable in class. It is wider than the typical seat, has much more padding, and instead of flip down armrests, these are thick fixed position armrests that curve back to remain comfortable with the seatback reclined. They are specially made for marine use.
The helm has multifunction gauges on either side of the panel and clutter is reduced by the Beacon touch screen display in the center of the panel. The system allows simple and intuitive controls of all of the boat's systems, and even switches to a GPS-driven moving map display. The hickory wood trimmed, three-spoke wheel is mounted to a tilt base and wood accents on the helm are complimented by the attractiveness of this wheel.
The Bar is the Star of the Show
The Island Bar
This is without a doubt the most attractive – and unusual -- feature of this boat’s entertainment capabilities. The entire stern section of the boat is taken up by an attractive bar that includes four pedestal seats that telescope to varying heights. Tubular foot rests around the perimeter of the bar are perfectly positioned for comfort. The ladies will appreciate the four flip-out purse holders in front of each seat.
The Island Bar itself consists of a solid surface counter in two tones with lighted drink holders recessed in front of each seat. Overhead is a Cabana Top that provides comfortable protection as well as a place to store stemware.
Behind the bar are all the ingredients necessary to make the 290 Grand Entertainer's owner a host to be envied. The tools include bottle holders, a dual voltage refrigerator, two stainless drawers with steel sliders and internal bottle holders, a sink, cutting surface, a paper towel rack, ice bucket and plenty of available counter space.
Premier didn't forget that this was still a boat and boats are made for taking people in, as well as on, the water. For getting in the water, a set of extra-wide aluminum stairs leads to the surface and a flip-out ladder drops below the surface that has five treads. This is a very classy way to get into the water and also provides a comfortable sitting area between the engines for letting the feet dangle in the water while remaining within easy reach of the bar just ahead. We have not seen anything quite like the arrangement south of a $2 million motoryacht.
Of course she’s also a capable tow boat as well. Whether the end of the line contains kids on a tube, a wakeboard, a pair of skis, or a slalom ski, the 290 can handle it all. Although to be clear, the wakeboarder will probably be a bit disappointed as this boat just doesn’t create a wake that will allow a rider to catch lots of air. But for everyone else, it’s hang-on time. Let’s take a look at what sort of performance we got on our test.
The Premier 290 Grand Entertainer has a length overall of 29'4" (8.93 m) and a beam of 8'6" (2.59 m). With an empty weight of 4,500 lbs. (2,041 kg), 73 gallons (276 L) of fuel, two people and test power we had an estimated test weight of 6,482 lbs. (2,940 kg).With a pair of Yamaha F300 XCA engines turning 15.25 x 18 Saltwater Series 2 SDS props we reached a top speed of 52.6 mph at 6000 rpm. At that speed we were burning a combined 51 gph giving us a range of 80 miles.
As this is a boat that stays well on top of the water, best cruise is pretty much wherever you want to be, but I found her to be quite comfortable at 3000 rpm and 25.4 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to only 12 gph giving us a range of 164 miles and an endurance of six hours and 30 min. while still maintaining a 10% reserve.
Time to Plane.
Here's where things got real interesting. Those twin 300 Yamahas gave us a time to plane of only 2.1 seconds, we accelerated to 20 mph in 2.6 seconds, 30 in 4.2 seconds, 40 in 6.3 seconds and continued accelerating through 50 mph in only 10.3 seconds. After running those numbers I immediately searched the Lake for a bowrider figuring I could make a fast buck betting its captain that he couldn't beat me in a quarter-mile drag race……There wasn't one available.
Big Toons Make the Difference.
Why is the 290’s time to plane and to 50 mph so quick? Basically there are two reasons. First, this tri-toon Premier PTX design has been engineered for high performance. Because the center toon is 36” (90 cm) in diameter she sits high in the water. Second, due to the flat planning surface and lifting strakes placed on the inside of the two outer tubes, her performance is dramatically increased.
The PTX System Works.
Premier claims that its PTX system gives its boats faster time to plane and a higher top speed and our test confirmed those claims vis a vis conventional toon sizes and shapes. Further, because this 290’s 36” toons have 44% more displacement than conventional 25” diameter tubes its ride is far more comfortable and much dryer.
The third reason the 290 is so quick to 50 mph, of course, has something to do with the 600 horsepower strapped to her stern. While we don’t feel the boat really needs that much power – we think twin 225-hp engines would also be impressive – there is no denying the “wow” factor of this huge pontoon boat streaking across a lake. And in big lakes where distance can be a factor, speed can come in handy.
The 290 Grand Entertainer presents a minimal 3-degree bow rise upon acceleration, maintains that angle for a cruise attitude, and rolls only 4 ½- degrees into the turns. “The luxury found on board is a sharp contrast to the exciting handling characteristics and feeling of speed that I found while driving her,” reports our test captain. His report goes on to say, “I mean, we’re talking about a boat that accelerates to 50 mph in the neighborhood of 10 seconds! She also has impressive mid-range acceleration. She doesn't dig her bow in during the turns, as I would've expected, but instead throws spray out from the midpoint of the tubes, right at the helm area.”
In high-performance turns she will lower her bow and carve through the turn a little more aggressively. “Steering is effortless, and even at speed it was all fingertip controls ensconced in the constant luxury of a comfortable helm seat,” said Capt. Steve in his debriefing report. “Even underway she remained surprisingly stable so the guests will still be able to enjoy the bar as she cruises across the lake. When taking power off, she settles back into the water at a level attitude.”
After virtually every test we have a “debriefing session” with the test captain to find out how the test went and if all equipment worked as advertised. It is during these conversations that we often get some of our sharpest insights as to what the testing captain thought of the boat but could not quite capture in his written report.In this case, Capt. Steve said if he could get together the money, he’d love to own a 290 Grand Entertainer. “I can picture how much fun it would be to be able to invite friends out on this boat,” he said. “She would be the coolest thing at the marina and a real magnet for people who like to party hearty.” Alas, the 290 Grand Entertainer powered by twin 300-hp Yamahas is certainly not for everybody. The cost of her engines alone is pushing $50,000 and the complete rig is into six digits. But that is one of the beauties of this unusual vessel – not everybody can have one.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Premier 290 Grand Entertainer (2014-) is 52.6 mph (84.7 kph), burning 51.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 193.04 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Premier 290 Grand Entertainer (2014-) is 20.9 mph (33.6 kph), and the boat gets 2.34 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.99 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 181 miles (291.29 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 300-hp Yamaha F300XCA/LF300XCA.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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