Known for its top market offerings, Bennington pontoons combine luxury, solid construction and innovation at less-than-stratospheric prices. Case in point: the L23 Swingback. It tops 40 mph with a Mercury 200 and comes in at just over $91,000 as tested.
Interior and Accessories
The Swingback Lounge in the stern really makes the L23 a family and action craft in one. The wide lounge has a multiposition backrest to sit or recline facing forward or aft. A full perimeter stainless-steel rail with a swing gate for aft-deck access provides security. On that deck, we discovered a stainless-steel ski tow and a black powder-coated, curved folding aluminum boarding ladder. This aft seating arrangement coupled with the captain’s chair provides a separate conversation area for six crewmembers.
Checking under the console and seating, we discovered supported wiring run straight and clean. There’s enough open storage under the seat cushions and inside the console to stow a day’s bring-alongs. Recessed seat bases provide a subtle improvement in available deck space while delivering sure-footedness when standing to access the underseat stowage.
Our test rig featured diamond-stitched luxury Simtex upholstery in graphite with vibrant Monaco blue accenting. High-speed USB charging ports abound. Upfront, facing lounges feature deep well seating and recessed seatback pockets for added convenience and a more secure feel while underway. The helm features a Simrad GO7 screen displaying all vessel and engine information without the clutter of individual instruments. A Rockford Fosgate stereo provides plenty of high-fidelity volume.
The premium blackout finish is a package most will desire; it adds a subtle yet sleek look with a blackout powder-coated finish on the perimeter rails, Bimini top frame, boarding ladder, deck rails and bumper trim. The L23 Swingback provides great value and is packed with features for those who want Bennington quality and performance at a midlevel price.
- Aft lounge platform offers crowd control, with sunbathing room and forward-facing seating with a quick switch of the backrest.
- Rear stainless-steel perimeter rail allows use of the aft lounge while underway.
- Elevated helm station provides good visibility ahead.
- Steering is top-of-the-line SeaStar Pro hydraulic, so it was a surprise to find it a bit stiff and heavy at speed.
- Low-profile Lexan windscreen didn’t offer much protection from the wind; added height and a curled lip at the top edge might help this.
- Viaggio’s Diamante 23Q is 1 foot shorter at 23 feet, 10 inches. It compares in speed (46 mph) with a Mercury 250 outboard, and comes similarly equipped at just under $97,000. Equipped with a 200, the price and speed would be close to the Bennington.
How We Tested
- Engine: Mercury FourStroke 200 hp
- Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Enertia 15.3″ x 14″ 3-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.85:1 Fuel Load: 13 gal. Crew Weight: 250 lb.
Pricing and Specs
|Fuel Capacity:||32 gal.|
|Available Power:||Single Honda, Mercury or Yamaha outboard to 250 hp|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Bennington Marine – Elkhart, Indiana; 574-264-6336; benningtonmarine.com