What we think: A fast boat shouldn’t be this comfortable. A plush boat shouldn’t be this fast. That was the thought when we took Manitou’s 22-foot X-Plode Cruise with SHP across a western Michigan lake at nearly 50 mph.
At top speed we were urged to crank the power-assisted steering wheel all the way. Tighter. Tighter. The boat reversed course and raced back up the lake, barely losing any momentum. No other pontoon boat can do that. Manitou has been focusing on the SHP (Sport Handling Package) the past few years. It’s based on Manitou’s V-Toon technology, a trademarked evolution of the triple tube. The diameter of the inner tube is larger than the outers. Yes, other pontoon builders have done that. But Manitou next lowered the center tube in relation to the others. The result? Virtually a three-piece hull that heels inward like a sport boat. The setback on the engine and the V-Toon also create a bow-up running attitude — it’s not enough to impact sightlines, but friction is reduced enough to liven up the ride and to keep it dry across rough water.
Now Manitou has introduced the X-Plode, part of which is the SHP. With it comes brilliant white upholstery, under-seat track lighting, special graphics and a big-time sound system. Our boat also came with one of the strongest wakeboard towers we’ve found on a pontoon boat, built of 2.5-inch stainless steel and bolted by half-inch studs to a 3/8-inch aluminum plate that is itself welded to hat-shaped cross members. We think it’s a great fit for this performance luxury ‘toon.
Who should buy it: This is the boat for the fast-action family that enjoys a range of water-top activities with a lot of friends but wants it all in a single craft that’s as easy to use as it is fun.
Vital Stats * Length Overall: 21’5″ * Beam: 8’6″ * Dry Weight: 2,635 lb. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 10/1,795 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 55 gal. * Max HP: 225 * MSRP (test boat w/ Evinrude 225 E-Tec HO): $58,213 * NMMA Certified: Yes
* Honda 225 $57,333
* Evinrude 225 E-Tec HO $58,213
* Yamaha 225 $60,600
20 X-Plode Cruise SHP
Max HP: 175
It comes with the same unique handling package as the featured boat, but the size makes it easier to store.
24 X-Plode Sport Fish SHP
Max HP: 250
Try this big brother, with its available MerCruiser 350 Mag that creates 300 hp and a Bravo 3 drive.
Test Drive * Test Engine: Evinrude 225 E-Tec H.O. * Test Prop: 15 x 17 Rebel * Test Load: People (410 lb.); Fuel (25 gal.) * Top Speed: 48.9 MPH @ 5,950 RPM * Time to 20 mph: 4.2 sec. * Time to 30 mph: 6.5 sec. * Most Economical Speed: 25 MPH @ 3,600 RPM, 9 GPH