When you combine the spacious and roomy layout of a pontoon boat with affordability and fishing amenities, it seems like a match made in boating heaven. Well, such is the case with the aptly named SportFish 22 XP3 from White River Marine Group. At $29,595, it’s everything we would want in a cost-effective solution for getting more people on the water for less money. Up to 11 in this case.
Starting with the outside of the SportFish 22 XP3, the fencing comes in two colors: Black or the Caribou Metallic of our test boat, all behind a protective exoskeleton 26” (66 cm) high. The rails are insulated against vibration for a quiet ride, and now include the underside rail-lock system that holds the optional snapless mooring cover in place. This is a huge benefit and makes covering the boat so much easier, and easier on the fingers. We no longer have to have the strength of a circus strongman to pull the cover taught and snap those little buttons into place.
The deck is attached to full length M-brackets and heavy-duty bow U-channel reinforcement is behind the deck trim. Under deck shielding is provided and prevents that feeling of constantly pumping the brakes that we see when water hits the cross members on boats that don’t include this critical detail. Decking is 7-ply pressure treated ¾”: (1.91 cm) plywood with a limited lifetime warranty.
Moving inside, three boarding gates provide ample access. The forward gate measures in at 25 ½” (64.77 cm), with the 31” (79 cm) port gate being wheelchair accessible. The bottom of the forward gate is shortened to keep it well off the deck so that it can accommodate the optional trolling motor ($1,350 with Lowrance Hook-5X Pro fishfinder). The SportFish 22 XP3 comes pre-rigged for the trolling motor. The plug is at the seat just to starboard while the dedicated battery will be under the seat cushion in the forward storage space.
With the exception of the optional trolling motor, the fishing features are dedicated to the stern. They start with a pair of pedestal chairs that swivel and have fold down seatbacks. At the port rail is a rack to accommodate a pair of rods stored vertically as well as some tools. Just astern is a sun pad with two halves opening in the middle to reveal a 16-gallon (60.56 L) aerated livewell with dedicated holders for a bait bucket. To the starboard side is storage space that also shares its real estate with the house battery.
Along the starboard fencing is a horizontal rod locker that is 7.5’ (2.29 m) long and we’re happy to see that it’s lockable.
Cruising and Entertainment Features
While the fishing takes place in the stern, the rest of the SportFish 22 XP3 is dedicated to boating and relaxation.
Continuing from the stern, the two pedestal seats can swivel around the face forward, but while facing aft they can serve as spotters seats for the end of the towline. An optional ski tow tower ($535) adds towing capability and keeps the line above the outboard. When it’s time to relax, there’s the pads at the stern that keep the sunbathers happy.
Just ahead is L-shaped seating that wraps around a standard pedestal table. Beverage holders are in the ends of the couch and in the table. At the forward end of the couch there’s a pop-up changing room so we can alternate between dressing up for lunch and dressing down for swimming.
At the bow there are opposing couches making for an inviting conversational atmosphere. Both these, and the aft L-shaped sofa feature heavy-duty marine-grade upholstery, double-stitching, multiple tones and the comfort of multi-density foam adding support where needed and a plush feel everywhere else. A movable armrest/beverage holder adds to the comfort.
To top it off…
Overhead is a color-keyed 9’ (2.74 m) Bimini top that has a unique twist. SUN TRACKER’s QuickLift system makes short work of what was otherwise a rather tedious task. Simply release the two latches, one to each side, and internal gas struts do the heavy work, making the top easy to deploy with one hand. Once up, click the same latches into place and secure the forward straps. Done.
The top includes courtesy lights, protective boot and even storage pockets.
One thing that sets this boat apart from others on the market is the amount of available storage. Sure, there’s storage under the seats as usual, but SUN TRACKER takes it a step further with what it calls Stow More seating. Each of the seatbacks lifts to add up to 50% more storage to the roto-molded seats. Hinges hold the seatbacks open so we can use both hands to load or retrieve items. It’s a clever solution, and while it’s the first we’ve seen of it, it definitely won’t be the last, nor only from this builder we suspect.
Basically, the only places that aren’t available for storage are under the port aft seat cushion, which is used for the battery, and the in-deck storage that we typically see in a three-log boat.
The helm console is to starboard and is minimalist and efficient. Still, it includes a small cubby for placing items in, and it’s angled downward so those items don’t come spilling out when the throttle is advanced. If the “Fishing Package” is selected ($1,350 with trolling motor) this space will house a Lowrance Hook-5X Pro fishfinder. Multi-function gauges reduce the clutter and provide selectable information. Hydraulic steering is connected to a soft touch wheel mounted to a tilt base. Rocker switches are lighted when activated. The stereo is to port.
A small space for securing the phone is provided to the starboard side and the connectivity is next to the stereo to port in the form of MP3 and USB plugs. Additional connectivity to the stereo is via Bluetooth, which pretty much every phone is capable of and allows controllability from anywhere on the boat.
The helm seat has a high back, and it swivels and slides.
The SUN TRACKER SportFish 22 XP3 has a LOA of 24’2” (7.37 m) and a beam of 8’6" (2.59 m). With an empty weight of 5,246 lbs. (2,380 kg), 80-percent fuel and two people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 5,916 lbs. (2,683 kg).
With a 150-hp Mercury Four Stroke turning a 15.6x13 pitch Enertia prop, we reached our top speed of 35.1 mph at 6000 rpm. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 14.3 mph. It was at that speed that the 3.3 gph fuel burn translated into a range of 205 miles while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boats 52-gallon (196.84 L) total fuel capacity.
We accelerated to 20 mph in 5.5 seconds and continued through 30 in 9.8 seconds.
The 26" (66.04 cm) diameter XP3 high-performance multi-chambered pontoon logs include welded-on lifting strakes, wave deflectors and internal bracing for additional strength. And notice the added trim work where it meets the deck. This all provides excellent handling characteristics that start right from cruise where we found that just a bit of up-trim got her into a roughly 5-degree bow high attitude where she performs best.
With calm conditions we were left with crossing the wake of our camera boat to show an easy transition and no hull slap or adverse feel. She turns well and has a nice response to the helm remaining fairly level in the turns. We did ventilate the prop a bit but bringing the trim back down solved that. Basically, with this 150 four-stroke, no matter how heavy handed we got it stayed comfortable throughout.
Options and Pricing
SUN TRACKER offers the SportFish 22 XP3 with power ranging from 115-hp on up to 200-hp. With the Mercury 115 FourStroke she’s priced at the base $29,595. The Pro XS model will come in at $29,805 and with Command Thrust she will be priced $30,355. Opt up to the 150 FourStroke for $32,395. And the top of the food chain 200-hp Mercury Verado will set you back $37,695. Not including freight or prep.
Some other options to consider might be the fishing package ($1,350) that includes a Lowrance HOOK-5x Pro fishfinder and a MotorGuide W55 wireless 12V, 55-pound (24.9 kg) thrust foot-control trolling motor. There’s the rail mounted propane grill ($315). A woven floor upgrade ($250) will add an additional level of non-skid and style. The ski tow tower ($535) is a must. If it stays outside then we’d consider the snapless mooring cover. And if transporting over the road, then the tandem axle trailer ($3,295) will be a necessity. That’s the extent of the options list, and clearly there’s not much because everything else is included as standard.
But even fully loaded this is still a cost-effective solution for getting on the water with plenty of room for friends and family combined. It’s among the easiest boats to handle and pain free as well.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Sun Tracker SportFish 22 XP3 (2018-) is 35.1 mph (56.5 kph), burning 14.1 gallons per hour (gph) or 53.37 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Sun Tracker SportFish 22 XP3 (2018-) is 14.3 mph (23 kph), and the boat gets 4.4 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.87 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 205 miles (329.92 kilometers).
- Tested power is Mercury 150 hp 4-stroke.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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