Bentley Encore 240 Cruise

At 15 mph, engine noises are low enough to allow normal conversations, or to enjoy the sound system without maxing out the amp.

In the world of pontoon boats, it's the fastest and most outrageous that usually capture our attention. Meanwhile, the majority of buyers are out shopping for something a bit simpler and more cost-effective. In other words, boats like Bentley's Encore 240.

Some might describe it as a "back to basics" boat, as its design emphasizes those things most important to the pontoon lifestyle: uncluttered deck space and ease of operation. The standard package provides all the requisite amenities for a day afloat. There's ample lounge seating, a large Bimini top for shade, a changing room for privacy, a removable table for entertaining and an MP3- enabled sound system to set the mood. None of these features is groundbreaking or unexpected, but they are properly executed, which results in an end product that delivers as promised.

With a 90 hp Mercury four-stroke on the transom, the 240 delivered a reasonable 25 mph top end in our test. But perhaps the best attribute of this particular engine pairing is the civilized midrange performance. At 15 mph, engine noises are low enough to allow normal conversations, or to enjoy the sound system without maxing out the amp. This is also the sort of speed where forward motion creates a pleasant breeze rather than a buffeting headwind.

For those looking to add a few upgrades, Bentley can accommodate with a full range of performance- and comfort-enhancing options. This same model can be fitted with lifting strakes, a center log, hydraulic steering and motors up to 150 hp. In this configuration, we'd expect the boat to run into the mid-30s and provide enough acceleration to also justify the optional ski tow bar.

Extra Points
• Multidensity foams in the couch provide comfort and firm support.
• Sound levels are low at midrange speeds, allowing for relaxed conversation.
• The use of 25-inch logs enhances stability and load capacity.
• Performance upgrades are available for those with a need for speed.

Test Drive * Test Engine: Mercury 90 HP 4-stroke EFI * Test Prop: 14" X 11" aluminum * Test Load: People (400 LB.) Fuel (24 GAL.) * Top Speed: 25.2 MPH @ 6,100 RPM * Time to 20 MPH: 8.2 sec. * Most Economical Cruise Speed: 19 MPH @ 4,500 RPM, 3.8 GPH Vital Stats * Length Overall: 24' * Beam: 8'6" * Dry Weight: 1,940 LB. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 16/2,400 LB. * Fuel Capacity: 24 GAL. * Max HP: 150 * MSRP: See Local Dealer * NMMA Certified: Yes