Southwind 2290L

Southwind's 2290L combines pontoon features with runabout handling.

What we think: The pontoon/runabout hybrid has caught some major momentum the past couple years, especially for boaters in the Southeast who believe a shallow draft and the flexibility of outboard power are prerequisites. Southwind entered the movement less than two years ago with an impressive resume. Topside the 2290L uses the expertise of its sister brand, Bennington, which is consistently one of the top finishers in customer satisfaction scores. From the waterline down you see craftsmanship from Southwind's other sibling, Azure, which is among the most respected fiberglass brands.

The 2290L, in fact, uses a vented hull similar to those found in the Azure line. We ran easily into the mid-40s with a 200-horse Yamaha on the transom. The boat slides in turns, much like a shallow-keeled bay boat. With the motor up, the boat only drafts 10 inches. It drops almost immediately onto plane with no loss of horizon, thanks in part to the fuel tank being forward and on the centerline for balance. A safer runabout would be hard to find because of the driver visibility and the gates that create the high freeboard of a pontoon.

If you were to wake up on one of the multiple chaise longues, you'd think you were on a pontoon boat. The helm, with binnacle control and low windscreen over the instrument panel, is also from a pontoon influence. But the fiberglass deck allows for in-floor storage, retractable boarding ladders, a batwing design along the forward boarding area, and the kicker, far easier maintenance than carpet. Just rinse with high pressure and it's ready for the next fun ride.

Who should buy it: Boaters who foresee crews of more than four people taking advantage of the pontoonlike comforts of the 2290L, but who also want the handling of a runabout and fiberglass hull characteristics overall.

Vital Stats * Length: 22'9" * Beam: 8'6" * Dry Weight: 3,500 lb. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 11/1,550 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 35 gal. * Max HP: 225 * MSRP (w/ Yamaha F115): $31,645 * NMMA certified: Yes

Power Picks
Honda 175 four-stroke See local dealer
Mercury 200 Verado See local dealer
Yamaha 225 See local dealer

Also Consider...
2290FF
Length: 22'9"
Beam: 8'6"
Max HP: 225
This is the fishing version of the 2290L, with casting chairs on the forward deck and optional rod holders and livewell.

212 Sport Deck
Length: 20'6"
Beam: 8'6"
Max HP: 225
The Sport Deck series has no pontoon carry-over, so it's all fiberglass with a runabout interior and outboard power.

Test Drive * Test Engine: Yamaha F200 four-stroke * Test Load: People (310 lb.); Fuel (35 gal.) * Top Speed: 43.5 mph @ 6,000 rpm * Time to Plane: 3.9 sec. * Time to 30 mph: 7.8 sec. * Minimum Planing Speed: 16.5 mph @ 3,000 rpm