Bill Doster

Five Fast Pontoon Boats

Five fast pontoon boats with serious ponies on the transom.

Admit it, you never expected that a pontoon boat cruising down the lake would be able to pass you. But it did. Thanks to triple-tube configurations, stout construction techniques and outboard advancements, pontoons today can carry some serious horsepower — and deliver fantastic performance. In short, they can move. Here are five pontoon boats, with tested horsepower ranges from 300 to 800, that qualify as heavy artillery. All of them are capable of topping 50 mph, and a couple can even exceed highway speed limits.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
LOA: 28'3" | Beam: 10'0" | Dry Weight: 4,702 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 18/Not Available | Fuel Capacity: 83 gal. | More Information: benningtonmarine.comBill Doster

Bennington QR27 10 Wide

We tested this ’toon powered with twin Yamaha F250 outboards, and it delivered a 51.3 mph top-end speed, hitting 30 mph in just 4.2 seconds. How does it handle the big power? Our tester was equipped with the Elliptical Sport Package, giving us power-assisted hydraulic steering with an engine tie bar, twin cranking batteries with isolation switches, and an isolated house battery to power the accessories. Underneath, the decking and structure were assembled with all stainless-steel hardware and locking nuts. Large-diameter pontoons with sealed-end lifting strakes guarantee flat turning and rough-water stability while on plane.

Plus, its length eliminates pitching in big rollers, ensuring serene ride comfort. Best cruise is 15 mph at 2,000 rpm, where fuel economy is right at 2.4 mpg, but you will find comfort in a chop at much higher speeds than that.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
It delivered a 51.3 mph top-end speed, hitting 30 mph in just 4.2 seconds.Yamaha

The raised helm grants the pilot better visibility, and the Yamaha digital dash provides engine and cockpit information. The Yamaha controls with joystick docking are extremely precise and allow for pinpoint control — important when docking and maneuvering.

Take a look at what the QR27 has to offer in the way of its interior. The optional electrically powered changing room is a nice touch. Optional color-changing LED mood lighting is strategically located around speakers and cup holders, as well as the sides and even underwater. The Napa Beige interior upholstery is elegant, and it wipes down easily. The flooring material is vinyl sea grass, offering a textured surface that’s still easily hosed off without retaining water. In the floor, a wide storage compartment swallows watersports gear.

How We Tested
Engines: Twin Yamaha F250 250 hp four-strokes
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury 15.5" x 17" pitch Saltwater Series 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 2.00:1
Fuel Load: 21 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Price: $193,367 (as tested)

More Information
Bennington Pontoons - Elkhart, Indiana; 888-906-2628; benningtonmarine.com

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
LOA: 25'7" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 3,000 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 14/2,025 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 52 gal. | More Information: forestriverinc.comBill Doster

Berkshire Sport RFX9 3.0+

The Berkshire is our lone single-engine craft included here, but the 300 hp Mercury Verado helped it rip off a 50 mph top speed. That’s plenty of muscle to classify it as a powerful pontoon. When we hit the throttles, it planed at 14 mph in just 3.75 seconds, and we hit 30 mph in just 6.9 seconds. We achieved our most economical cruise at 3,500 rpm, 22.5 mph and 2.92 mpg. Below deck, three 25-inch-diameter tubes with four stepped lifting strakes and two outside spray rails provide a sturdy ride at cruising speeds without sacrificing comfort or rough-water capability.

The helm is raised 4 inches off the deck for better visibility, and the steering wheel is a solid stainless-steel unit with a spinner knob, a nice touch for around-the-dock handling. The boat is equipped with hydraulic steering with electronic power-steering assist. The audio system features 165-watt interior speakers, two exterior aft speakers, and two aft-facing Kicker can speakers on the arch. LED floor lighting and exterior rail lights along with LED rail-mount docking lights come standard. Dual batteries with a shut-off switch and onboard charger are also standard.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
With a single engine, it can plane in just 3.75 seconds and hit 30 mph in just 6.9 seconds.Mercury Marine

The Sport is well-equipped to handle a crowd. The interior furniture is stitched with plush vinyl that matches the vinyl teak-look flooring. A 10-foot Bimini top mounted to the sport arch protects the crew. For watersports, there’s an extended stern deck with a transom washdown, stainless-steel boarding ladder, and aluminum Sport Ski Tow, plus a combination anchor light/tow pylon mounted on the arch.

How We Tested
Engine: Mercury 300 hp Verado FourStroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury 14.7" x 16" pitch 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 13 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Price: $107,400 (as tested)

More Information
Forest River Marine - Elkhart, Indiana; 574-825-8696; forestriverinc.com

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
LOA: 27'2" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 4,640 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 11/3,021 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 93 gal. | More Information: harrisboats.comBill Doster

Harris Crowne SL 250

With twin 350 Mercury Verados, the Crowne packed some serious speed; it’s a solid 60-plus mph performer. By finessing the twin hydraulic jack plates and power trim together, the best top speed we could wring from it was 63 mph at 6,300 rpm, though Harris’ driver, with more experience with this boat, was able to eke out 66 mph. Our best cruise speed was at 2,500 rpm, where we were ticking along at 20 mph and 2.5 mpg. At that rate, the 93-gallon tank is good for about 210 miles, with 10 percent reserve. With this power, it can hit 30 mph in 5.6 seconds. Punch like that will pull nearly anyone, or anything, you can think of. The huge 27-inch-diameter pontoons deliver stable, flat cornering and a smooth ride in lake chop.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
Harris’ driver, with more experience with this boat, was able to eke out 66 mph.Mercury Marine

Inside, there’s little Harris didn’t consider. An optional arch offers great shade with the Bimini top, and it’s powered for easy lowering for underbridge passage. The glass dashboard houses a digital touchscreen dash that controls everything on the boat, and it gives all the information you’ll need on the twin Verados. In-floor storage makes stashing wakeboards and skis simple. A quick-release fender system protects the sculpted sides from dock rash. The optional JL Audio Diamond sound system provided throaty bass, and the SL floor plan with a single rear-facing lounger with powered backrest gave luxurious versatility to the stern seating area. The Crowne brings new sleekness to pontoon design, with a sloping contoured nose and dramatic flair to the side panels. The pilot is pampered accordingly with a special UltraLux vinyl high-backed helm seat.

How We Tested
Engines: Twin 350 hp Mercury Racing Verados
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury 21" pitch 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 72 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Price: $185,100 (as tested)

More Information
Harris - Fort Wayne, Indiana; 260-432-4555; harrisboats.com

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
LOA: 26'8" | Beam: 8'6" | Dry Weight: 4,160 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 13/1,775 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 90 gal. | More Information: manitoupontoonboats.comBill Doster

Manitou 25 X-Plode XT SHP

The 25 X-Plode XT SHP is another Manitou designed to push pontoon performance limits. And our test model also pushed the envelope for pontoon design and style. Equipped with twin Evinrude 300 E-Tec outboards, the 25 X-Plode jumped onto plane in a quick 3.3 seconds, passed 30 mph a mere 2 seconds later, and topped out at a blazing 62.8 mph. Its most efficient cruising speed occurred at 3,000 rpm, where we made 27 mph while netting 2.5 mpg. Handling is equally impressive. Manitou’s top-of-the-line Sport Handling Package (SHP) closely mimics a V-hull by pairing its twin outer pontoons (25 inches in this twin-engine application) with a 27-inch-diameter center tube that sits a full 5¼ inches lower in the water. The result is nimble, aggressive cornering made almost effortless at the helm by standard power steering.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
The 25 X-Plode jumped onto plane in a quick 3.3 seconds and passed 30 mph 2 seconds later.Evinrude

Design? The all-fiberglass perimeter enclosure, raised helm, and both forward and aft seat bases were painted a bold lime green. The fiberglass construction gives the boat stylish contours not possible with traditional aluminum fencing and panels. A billet forward entry gate, billet dash and Gussi wheel, and sleek stainless-steel rails and aft gate complete the cutting-edge appearance.

The X-Plode offers parallel twin lounges forward with convenient stowage below, twin bucket seats for captain and co-pilot, and clever lounge seating aft that converts from face-to-face dinette-style seats to rear-facing chaises with just a flip of the aft backrest. At the helm, the captain is greeted by both Evinrude’s 7-inch Icon touchscreen and Manitou’s own standard Smart Screen, allowing him to simultaneously keep tabs on the engines and the ship’s systems.

How We Tested
Engines: Twin Evinrude 300 E-Tec
Drive/Prop: Outboard/RX4 15" x 22" 4-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 81 gal.
Crew Weight: 320 lb.
Price: $172,500 (with test power)

More Information
Manitou - Lansing, Michigan; 800-999-9788; manitoupontoonboats.com

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
LOA: 31'6" | Beam: 10'0" | Dry Weight: 3,500 lb. | Seating/Weight Capacity: 15/3,000 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 100 gal. | More Information: playcraftboats.comZach Stovall

PlayCraft Powertoon X-Treme 3110

You can’t have a performance pontoon roundup without including PlayCraft; the company is thought by many to be the first to develop pontoons into speed machines. While efficient, delivering 2.2 mpg at 24 mph, the Powertoon X-Treme 3110 shows the company is still on top of the performance game; the boat is outfitted with twin 400 hp Mercury Racing outboards that propel this boat to a top-end of nearly 65 mph.

But it’s not just the horsepower that grants the Powertoon its speed. PlayCraft’s proprietary Rac-R-Fins on special U-shaped pontoons provide lift while enhancing control. The boat heels sweetly in turns rather than rolling outward like some pontoons. The ride is so smooth that, in our test, a coffee drinker could sip away with confidence. That’s a nod to stronger crossbeams, placed at closer intervals to tie the outer tubes solidly to the oversize 36-inch center tube to keep the hull rigid in unruly conditions. Performance means comfort too. Livorsi controls and gauges and a power-assist helm give the driver the performance edge.

Five Fast Pontoon Boats
The boat is outfitted with twin 400 hp Mercury Racing outboards that propel it to a top-end of nearly 65 mph.Mercury Racing

Even when the Powertoon is at anchor and its crew is lounging in the comfort of many couches and bucket helm chairs, the X-Treme 3110 looks race-ready. Graphics in the side panels match sewn-in graphics in the upholstery. Infinity flooring is handsome enough for a living room but easier to clean and sturdier than concrete. Conveniences include overboard draining coolers. And when swimmers want to climb aboard, they can do so easily thanks to the patented steps built right into the tubes.

How We Tested
Engines: Twin Mercury Verado 400R
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Enertia 19" 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 50 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Price: Unavailable (at press time)

More Information
PlayCraft Boats - Richland, Missouri; 573-765-3265; playcraftboats.com