Bennington has a knack for making even lower-priced models look decidedly posh and upscale. For instance, step aboard the 21 SLX Premium and your eye is immediately drawn to the stylized radius bow lounges with their designer-influenced two-tone color scheme and fabriclike Simtex vinyl, the latter a choice that won’t feel sticky on hot summer afternoons. Large lumbar cutouts sport contrasting shades in a chic diamond pattern. Pillow-top back cushions invite you to settle in for the ride. Aft, find the same rich treatment on the L-shaped lounge, sun pad and helm seat. Even the fiberglass helm blended seamlessly into our test boat’s driftwood color scheme. Combined with an optional blackout package that wraps all exterior aluminum above the waterline in matte black, the result is one classy pontoon.
Details stand out. Take a look at how the brushed-finish dash panels reveal no exposed fasteners. Dual dash nooks, the perfect spot for a phone and a set of keys, feature nonslip as well as drains to avoid puddling. The cockpit table is trapezoidal in shape to ease traffic flow around it. The curtain for the optional pop-up changing room hidden below the sun pad widens toward the bottom and even snaps to the exterior frame so as not to either expose or entangle the occupant on a windy day. Even the boarding ladder shows thought, swooping in an S pattern to offer a gentler angle when climbing aboard after a dip or a tow session.
Bennington’s Sport Performance System combines a trio of full-length 25-inch pontoons with lifting strakes on the center tube and performance foils on the inside of each outer log, along with an underdeck wave shield, solid round keels, and for the driver, the benefits of SeaStar hydraulic steering. The combination produced a gentle inside lean while swooping through turns and, with our test boat’s Yamaha 150, a top speed of 39 mph. At slower speeds, the 21 SLX Premium held plane at 16.8 mph and 3,000 rpm, which captain and crew will appreciate if confronted with a wind chop or one generated by heavy boat traffic on the weekend.
* Bennington’s Saltwater Series protection includes sacrificial anodes and sealed ends on each keel that thwart corrosion for boaters in coastal environments.
* Standard sea-grass flooring continues the upscale look while proving more durable and easier to maintain than carpet.
* All-in-one Kicker KMC1 stereo system provides the tunes; the Bimini top offers 8 feet 6 inches of headroom and extends a full 10 feet, offering plenty of shade for occupants.
Price: $46,219 (with test power/Sport Performance System)
How We Tested
Engine: Yamaha F150
Prop: Yamaha Reliance 14.25″ x 17″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 2.00:1
Fuel Load: 15 gal.
Crew Weight: 315 lb.
Bennington Pontoon – Elkhart, Indiana; 888-906-2628; benningtonmarine.com