The question for Manitou coming into the 2009 model year was, “Now what?” The company has won seven straight Customer Satisfaction Index awards from the NMMA, and two J.D. Power awards based on boat-owner surveys. Manitou’s answer was the introduction of an all-new line called, appropriately, the Encore series. These midrange boats are priced less than elite models, but they include construction and features that far outweigh those of a budget boat.
We tested a three-tube version of the 22-foot Encore, which uses the same tubes found on pricier pontoons. The boat rode high off the water at 52 mph, reaching 30 mph in less than 6 seconds, and maneuvering was a breeze because of the Sport Handling Package. (The SHP is a larger center tube, mounted lower than the outer tubes, and with lifting strakes all around). This, with an Evinrude 250 High Output, is the ticket for boaters who want the deft handling and quickness of a sport boat with the open space of a pontoon. About 40 percent of all new Manitous are rigged this way, and the V-Toon performance helps account for the high customer-satisfaction scores.
Our favorite high-end standard feature is the Toy Box, a deep acrylic storage area under the sun pad. We think it’s the most-convenient compartment to access on any pontoon. This is an example of how the Encore makes owning and using a boat so easy, and again, Manitou’s scores from boaters bear that out.
Key Note: A two-tube Encore with a 90 hp motor will sell for $25,000 or less; performance boaters will find the extra cost of the SHP and bigger motor worthwhile.
• Gauges are inset with deep rims to shield readouts from glare, and they give an automotive appearance.
• Pop-up changing station pulls out from under the port lounge seat.
• Lid over the gigantic Toy Box (under the sun pad) closes on a durable slam latch, making it easy to open and close.
* Length: 22′
* Beam: 8’6″
* Dry Weight: 2,610 lb.
* Passenger/Weight Capacity: 11/1,680 lb.
* Fuel Capacity: 57 gal.
* Maximum HP: 250
* MSRP (w/ SHP and Evinrude 250 H.O.): $53,000
* Test Engine: Evinrude 250 H.O.
* Test Prop: 19 Viper
* Test Load: People (395 lb.), Fuel (27 gal.)
* Top Speed: 52.1 mph @ 6,100 rpm
* Time to 20 mph: 4.6 sec.
* Time to 30 mph: 5.9 sec.