Captain's ReportSurprising Performance In a Crossover SportboatTested By Captain Keith BurtonForget about what you know regarding deckboats. Forget what you know about pontoon boats. Now add this to your memory of boats, the Bennington RL 262, which is new for 2005.This 26-footer is a move uplevel for families looking for a fun boat that offers the room and comfort of a deckboat but the performance, looks and fun of a sportboat. The 262 is Bennington’s largest crossover sportboat and it packs a remarkable wealth of features and luxury in a sleek package that reflects Bennington Marine’s attention to customer desires.We say crossover because the RL 262 picks up on the features people love about pontoon and deckboats and adds performance, luxury and style that makes this boat almost within a class of its own. Just like luxury SUV’s have become the rage in the world of automobiles because of their room and flexibility, the RL 262 could be seen as an equivalent in the boating world.We reviewed a prototype of this boat and were struck by its style, fit and finish and flexibility as both a sportboat, and fishing boat, thanks to some innovative features I will mention later.First, this is a sleek package. Bennington’s engineers and designers have crafted a smart-looking boat that provides the room of a deckboat without making it look like a big box on the water. The lines from bow to stern flow smartly around the RL 262.Getting aboard the stylish and roomy interior is easy thanks to a large entryway sculpted into the stern. The entry from the upper deck to the cabin follows an angled step into the boat’s well-appointed main seating area.At the bow, a nicely integrated rail frames the seating area that wraps around the boat with overstuffed cushions. A bow compartment stores a ladder for getting onboard easily while the boat is beached. A fully wrap-around windshield follows for the helm area. The windshield adds to the sleek look of this boat. Everywhere you look there are storage compartments for gear. Under the seat storage with fully drained compartments are plentiful. We especially like the two-level deck storage compartment that is accessible from two doors. The different levels allow skis and wakeboards footholds to be suspended to dry properly.Also at the bow is a convenient fold-out changing room/toilet that rises up on hydraulic struts. Its curtain snaps into place in just a few moments, and when not needed, transforms back into the port bow lounge seat. This is a feature you find more often on deck or pontoon boats, and it is sure appreciated here.The dash and helm are notable for the fine fit and finish of the materials and especially for some innovative functions. The passenger’s dash features a built-in freshwater sink underneath a panel. A glove compartment is just above, which houses a marine-grade CD stereo system. The helm features elegant and upscale black on white gauges that wrap the dash. Lighted rocker switches and circuit breakers fill out the helm. Both the captain’s chair and passenger’s seat are upscale with reconfigurable seat cushions and can both swivel and slide forward and back. Boaters with long legs will appreciate the legroom under dash.All throughout the RL 262 are the necessary cupholders, but we liked the way Bennington’s designers integrated them into convenient locations that don’t distract from the look of the cabin.The main cabin seats wrap around in a curving “L” shape with additional storage, including a molded space for a cooler. A large sunpad completes the rear of the cabin, but here is where things get more interesting.The rear half of the sunpad can be folded down to reveal more deck area, ideal for when you want to use the boat for fishing at the stern. The space also provides access to more storage compartments. A portion of the sunpad can be removed to access a freshwater filler and shower. A trapezoidal compartment on the port side of the sunpad could be used as a cooler as it is insulated.In the space at boat’s entry steps we mentioned earlier are two compartments. The upper compartment contains slide-out trays for your fishing tackle. The lower compartment is a large slide-out drawer for larger fishing tackle and a place ideal for tools.At the stern behind the fold-down sunpad are two additional storage compartments; however they can also be used as livewells when properly equipped.I especially liked the large ski platform at the rear of the boat. This platform covers the entire stern and is unusual as it includes the mount for the boat’s outboard motor. This leaves the main boat free of an engine, which adds to the overall passenger room.While I was able to run the boat on the water, it was outfitted with a prototype 250 horsepower outboard, which we were not able to get test numbers from. But I can tell you that the RL 262 is swift and handles smartly. The ride is comfortably smooth over most conditions and the hull does not pound passengers when crossing wakes or rough chop. In either marine or lake conditions, the RL 262 will be comfortably at home. You can expect the RL 262 to perform similarly to performance boats of its size and weight.Overall, there is a lot to like in this new boat from Bennington, it has a luxurious sporting look, lots of room onboard for the whole family, and the performance to make any day on the water a pleasure.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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