There’s a lot to love about pontoons, but they are not often thought of as boats that thrive in big water. However, the Bennington 30 QX, with its 31-foot length overall, 10-foot beam and its triple-tube Elliptical Sport Package with 32-inch-diameter tubes, can handle a lot. It has tons of comfortable space and, as it proved on test day, has tons of rough-water moxie. As evidence, we took the 30 QX for a spin in Biscayne Bay down in Miami, Florida, on a day when the wind and heavy boat traffic combined to create some sporty test conditions.
Our test model, a 30 QXFWBA X2, came rigged with twin Yamaha 425 XTO outboards that gave this boat all the low-end torque and midrange oomph it needed to fly. We recorded a top speed of 62 mph on a stretch run. More importantly, we could maintain a comfortable cruise in the chop between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm, at speeds ranging from 22 to 30 mph.
Handling? For a big, wide boat the 30 QX could execute pretty carving turns at 30 mph without blowing out the props and with enough inboard lean to feel like a V-hull. The key to the boat’s handling is Bennington’s Elliptical Sport Package, a triple-tube configuration featuring three 32-inch diameter tubes designed to handle high-horsepower applications. The tubes’ elliptical, rather than round, shape help them carve rather than plow through the water. Our test model could handle the confused wakes and wind-chop without pounding or rattling on the go.
Interior and Accessories
While the big-water handling is a big deal, it wouldn’t mean anything if the 30 QX couldn’t handle a full crew as well. There’s a comfortable spot everywhere on the boat for the 21-persons maximum capacity. The luxury QX series has many different available floorplans under Bennington’s Swingback, Stern Lounge and Quad Bench designs. Our test model featured a Quad Bench design that also incorporated a power-actuated sport arch.
The Quad Bench layout allows for wraparound seating in the bow and stern; both areas can serve as enormous conversation pits. The bow has forward-facing backrests with flip-down armrests that hide USB ports. The main cockpit features similar aft-facing backrests. The seats are covered with Simtex vinyl, which is plush, durable and cooler to the touch than traditional vinyl. Our tester really popped with the Ivory Simtex. If that’s not your cup of tea, there are nine other vinyl shades to choose from. The hinged seat cushions provide easy access to the storage space underneath. And there’s plenty of stowage aboard this boat. With the ESP package, you get a cavernous center ski locker hidden in the center tube that allows you to carry even more freight.
The 30 QX also features fiberglass consoles and a wraparound windshield with a walkthrough between the bow and the main cockpit. The matching Pure-Comfort reclining helm seats ensure the captain and first mate can cruise in comfort. The fiberglass helm console features illuminated rocker switches with dash-mounted breakers and a master power switch, which is great for making sure you don’t accidentally leave something running and drain the batteries. The standard Rockford Fosgate PMX-2 stereo system rocks.
The 30 QX’s radiused bow gives this boat a really sleek profile and is another design step away from the boxy pontoons of yore. The fiberglass components add to its sleek modern look that appears nothing like traditional pontoon fencing. Our test model featured the striking Monaco Blue rail color, one of 12 available color choices.
One thing that few other pontoons can match is this 30 QX’s water access. There’s a massive swim platform outside the transom boarding gate, with water access between the twin-engine installation. The super-sturdy boarding ladder should make getting in and out of the water a non-issue. The upgraded silver seagrass flooring is comfortable underfoot and adds to the boat’s luxurious look. There’s also a bow platform through the forward boarding gate that helps with boarding and accessing the bow cleats for docking.
How We Tested
- Engines: Twin Yamaha 425 XTO
- Drive/Props: Outboard/16 3/8″ x 21″ XTO 3-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.79:1 Fuel Load: 60 gal. Crew Weight: 530 lb.
- Big boat, big-water capabilities now come in pontoon form.
- A crew capacity of 21 means you can bring the party with you.
- A portable marine toilet is concealed under an electrically actuated cushion in the bow lounge.
- 83-gallon fuel tank limits the boat’s range when paired with the Yamaha 425 XTOs.
There aren’t many 30-foot pontoon boats around, but if shopping, another one to consider would be the PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000, a ‘toon built for speed that hit 77.6 mph in our testing when powered with twin Mercury Racing 450 outboards and sells for $239,000 as tested.
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$293,799 (as tested)|
|Fuel Capacity:||83 gal.|
|Available Power:||Twin outboards to 900 hp|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Bennington Marine – Elkhart, Indiana; 574-264-6336; benningtonmarine.com