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Manitou 22 X-plode

It's a pontoon, but it's not what you think.

May 26, 2010

We Say: A 49 mph run and the ability to bank into 180-degree turns would suggest notes from a sport-boat test. That’s because the 22 X-plode has a bit of a V in its underwater framework. The center tube is 27 inches wide and mounted 5¼ inches lower than the 23-inch outer tubes, creating a slightly deeper centerline that provides some sport-boat handling tendencies.

The interior also has category-breaking features. Under the sun pad is a finished fiberglass “toy box,” an ingenious alternative to piling gear onto the carpet. Additional storage is found via an in-floor hatch leading into the girthy center tube, and the compartment has a separate bilge with a dedicated switch to keep water from collecting. Seats are upholstered without the rolls seen on most pontoons — the seamlessness is what you’d find in a cruiser’s salon. Engine service is made convenient with the hydraulic-fluid reservoir under a forward headrest and access to the battery and fuel tank through a hatch in the toy box.

We noted the motor is mounted on a bracket, not in a well, so you won’t be dragging hundreds of pounds of water around. It’s also set back to give the prop cleaner water and to give the boat a bow-up profile when under way. This reduces tube-on-water friction and adds to the boat’s unique performance aura.

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Who’d Want One: Boaters intrigued by the comfort of pontoons, and who want sport-boat performance.

Another Choice: Playcraft’s Powertoon 2200 Xtreme ($56,900 with Mercury 250 Pro XS) has the speed and handling to match its brilliant colors and graphics.

Bottom Line: $53,600

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