The Explore 26 Navigator offers bold new styling and a pair of potent 300 hp Mercury Verados. Go ahead. Slam that throttle down. The Explore responds by jumping onto plane in a scant 3.5 seconds, the same amount of time it takes to cross the 30 mph threshold. Keep those throttles pinned and run out to a 60.7 mph top speed.
Things belowdecks haven’t changed. Manitou’s patented V-Toon technology still provides handling response reminiscent of a V-hulled sportboat by pairing 25-inch outer pontoons with a larger 27-inch center tube that sits 5 ¼ inches lower in the water. Power into a turn and the boat responds with an intuitive inside bank, just like a sportboat. Keep cranking and it stays hooked up, leaving a pontoon boat’s stodgy reputation bobbing in its wake. Low-speed maneuvering doesn’t suffer, especially when those twin Mercs are paired with joystick steering. Even with a fierce crosswind, we maneuvered into a crowded dock space with utter confidence.
That topside makeover, however, can’t be missed. Formed aluminum wall panels combine to give a futuristic, one-piece look to the sleek exterior. Accent details at the panel’s termination point aft flow directly upward into the overhead sport Bimini. The beefy bow gate blends almost seamlessly into the perimeter wrap, and opens and shuts like a car door. Integrated LED docking and navigation lights peek out from a bold black bezel, much like you’d see on a modern luxury sedan.
While the floor plan isn’t radical—twin couches fore and aft are complemented by matching captain’s chairs—the execution offers unique touches. Switchback seats aft pivot the backrest to focus attention forward or aft. Modular bases include individual storage compartments and cup holders. Speakers are integrated to be heard but not seen. Finally, consider the versatility of the Tri-Fold Bench. Take out the center cushion and it converts to face-to-face seating. Fold out the table hidden under the center seat and break out the hors d’oeuvres. It’s one of the many unique ways that Manitou capitalizes on design elements to maximize space and amplify the fun.
- Powder-coated black pontoons, skirting and Bimini frame look great.
- Sport Bimini is rated for up to 55 mph.
- Standards include 9-inch Garmin EchoMap, Fusion audio with four speakers, and 12 USB charging ports.
How We Tested
- Engines: Twin Mercury 300 Verados
- Drive/Props: Outboard/Mercury Rev 4 14 1/2” x 21″ 4-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.85:1 Fuel Load: 86 gal. Crew Weight: 340 lb.
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$166,410 (with twin Mercury 300 Verados and Joystick Piloting)|
|Dry Weight:||4,175 lb.|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||12/1,692 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||90 gal.|
Manitou Pontoon Boats – Lansing, Michigan; 800-999-9788; manitoupontoonboats.com