Seven Fast Pontoon Boats

Here are seven models that offer real velocity.

October 15, 2020

Of all the things people love about pontoon boats—like how they’re great for entertaining and packed with creature comforts—performance is not often mentioned at the top of the list. But a modern pontoon boat equipped with a triple-tube package can achieve robust speeds and execute graceful, carving turns like a V-hull. Here are seven pontoons with triple tubes that perform just as well as they entertain.

PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000 running on the Lake of the Ozarks
LOA: 31’6″ | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (Max): 1’2″ |Dry Weight: 3,500 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 15/3,000 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 100 gal. Zach Stovall

PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000

In terms of pure, raw speed, no one else does pontoons like PlayCraft. Thirty years ago, its founder, Jim Dorris, looked at the popularity of performance boats on Lake of the Ozarks and asked: Why can’t we retain the leisure and social atmosphere of a pontoon boat while building it to power comfortably and easily accelerate to 70 mph? Our test of the X-Treme 3000 on Lake of the Ozarks answered that question with an exclamation point. Powered by dual Mercury Racing 450 outboards, our test boat hit a top speed of 78.1 mph, giving it the chops to take on—and pass—many traditional boats labeled as go-fasts.

Of course, performance is more than top-end speed. The twin Mercs popped us up on top and cruised at 30 mph in 5.2 seconds. Thanks to the electronic throttles and power steering, the triple-tube PowerToon banked comfortably into tight turns, held its line at speeds in excess of 40, and accomplished it all effortlessly.


Designing a boat for speed mandates considering aerodynamics as well as hydrodynamics. A nod to aerodynamics appears in the wedge-shaped bow and the sleek Bimini top. One of the originators of pontoon lifting strakes, PlayCraft employs them on three tubes to get on top of the water, reducing drag and increasing speed all while retaining the soft ride of a pontoon.

PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000 helm
The raised helm station provides a clear view above the crew. Zach Stovall

In the comfort department, furnishings on board, from the deck to the shoulder cushions, are upholstered in UV-protected vinyl. Color combinations are virtually unlimited, and owners can even match them to their favorite football team. Exterior colors are offered in a broad spectrum too. Color-matched, powder-coated tubes and rails are for durable good looks.

The fiberglass-molded helm station is raised, giving a clear view above the crew. The captain’s chair swivels and reclines, and the armrests automatically adjust to the correct, comfortable angle. There are three boarding options: the wide bow deck, a wheelchair-width portside gate, and the stern platform. An extra-long boarding ladder integrated into the pontoon is patented and exclusive to PlayCraft.

PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000 performance chart
PlayCraft PowerToon X-Treme 3000 Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engines: Twin Mercury Racing 450 hp V-8 supercharged

Drive/Props: Outboard/Bravo FS 24″ 4-blade stainless steel


Gear Ratio: 1.60:1

Fuel Load: 25 gal.

Crew Weight: 400 lb.


Price: $229,000

PlayCraft Boats – Richland, Missouri; 573-765-3265;

Bennington 25 QX Fastback cruising on a lake
LOA: 27’3″ | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (Max): 2’9″ | Dry Weight: 4,154 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 15/1,700 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 50 gal. Bill Doster

Bennington 25 QX Fastback

Even sitting at the dock, the 25 QX Fastback exudes pontoon performance. The molded fiberglass bow rakes sharply toward the water. Fiberglass-cladded rails are sharply faceted and completely devoid of the slightest hint of traditional fencing. Spanning the twin consoles, a low-profile, steeply raked walk-through windshield is deeply tinted, adding an air of mystery to the passengers behind. At the stern, side panels finish in a mix of bright stainless steel and wire mesh. Add a swept-forward overhead arch, a 350 hp Yamaha outboard color-matched to the new-for-2020 Monaco Blue exterior, and a blacked-out trio of top rail, pontoon skirt and deck rail, and the 25 QX looks ready to rumble.

On the water, it didn’t disappoint. Bennington equipped our test model with the ESP Performance Package, one of the most dramatic pontoon configurations on the market. The central tube is a sizable 32 inches in diameter and elliptical in shape. Flanked by 25-inch outer pontoons, it produces handling similar to a V-hull. With our Yamaha 350 test motor, the craft powered onto plane in 4.4 seconds, reached 30 mph in 7.1, and topped out at nearly 48 mph.

Bennington 25 QX Fastback helm
An optional Simrad GO9 GPS touchscreen display eliminates any gauge cluster. Bill Doster

In the Bennington model lineup, the letter “Q” denotes luxury. Evidence on this boat abounds. The interior’s clean graphite palette perfectly complemented the blue exterior. Forward, twin wraparound benches line the sides, turning into a full wraparound bench if you add the gate filler seat. The graphite theme continues at the helm, offset by complementary wood-grain accents. Chrome-clad rocker switches are neatly arrayed across the bottom of the dash. Above, an optional Simrad GO9 GPS touchscreen display eliminates any gauge cluster.

To port, a co-captain’s chair is perched behind the port console, the latter featuring granitelike counter space and an optional stainless-steel sink with faucet. Aft, Bennington’s Quad Bench mixes seating capacity with lounge space, featuring twin couches that wrap toward a central gate, and forward-facing backrests should occupants want to stretch. Off the sizable swim platform, additional cup holders, a stereo and an oversize stainless-steel boarding ladder await.

Bennington 25 QX Fastback Performance Data Chart
Bennington 25 QX Fastback Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: Yamaha 350

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Yamaha Saltwater Series XL 16 1/4″ x 15″ 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.73:1

Fuel Load: 45 gal.

Crew Weight: 360 lb.

Price: $140,030 (with test power, Elliptical Sport Package)

Bennington Pontoon Boats – Elkhart, Indiana; 888-906-2628;

Harris Crowne 270 SL TE sports a luxurious ride
LOA: 27’11” | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (Max) 2’8″ | Dry Weight: 5,111 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 13/3,337 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 63 gal. Bill Doster

Harris Crowne 270 SL TE

The Harris Crowne 270 SL TE is a boat that can’t drive 55. In fact, it can go faster. Powered by twin Mercury 400 outboards, this boat hopped onto plane in a mere 3.6 seconds, reaching 30 mph in less than 7 seconds more before topping out at 61.2 mph. The key attribute? The Crowne’s triple 27-inch pontoons with strakes designed specifically for twin-engine performance.

The Crowne 270 SL TE has a look that goes beyond the sedate pontoon. Key to its look is the replacement of the traditional pontoon fence enclosures with sleek, curvy fiberglass. Four fiberglass modules occupy the four corners of the deck outline, the forward pair curving aggressively toward the water. Those modules incorporate the Crowne’s outer walls as well as seat bases. The result is a boat that fits in at both a sandbar party and yacht-club cocktail hour.

Step through the stainless-steel bow gate and parallel benches flank the walkway. Harris angles the seat bottom’s profile to provide a more open, spacious feel, topping off the backrests with comfy pillow tops and accenting the lumbar region with diamond-pattern stitching. Finished stowage with drains is found below.

Harris Crowne 270 SL TE helm
A central Medallion Glass Dash touchscreen is standard-issue. Bill Doster

At the helm, the captain is greeted with billet dash accents, a stainless-steel spoke wheel, and an attractive vinyl wrap with accent stitching. A central Medallion Glass Dash touchscreen is standard-issue; a second touchscreen control to starboard replaces traditional switches. On our test boat, both were complemented by an additional Simrad display. Aft, an L-shaped bench includes an optional rear-facing lounger with powered flip-flop backrest. Its linear actuated motor was nearly silent and allowed almost unlimited stages of recline for both forward or aft-facing seating.

Fast is fun, but the optional Mercury Joystick Piloting system made handling this boat a simple pleasure. The intuitive joystick control allowed us to literally make kid’s play of docking, effortlessly maneuvering the Crowne around a tight marina in the stiffest of crosswinds.

Harris Crowne 270 SL TE Performance Chart Data
Harris Crowne 270 SL TE Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engines: Twin Mercury 400 Verado

Drive/Props: Outboard/Mercury Revolution 4 14 5/8″ x 21″ 4-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.75:1

Fuel Load: 58 gal.

Crew Weight: 350 lb.

Price: $306,000

Harris Boats – Fort Wayne, Indiana; 260-432-4555;

Lowe SS 250 WS running along the shoreline
LOA: 25’7″ | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (Max): NA | Dry Weight: 2,715 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 13/1,813 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 50 gal. Zach Stovall

Lowe SS 250 WS

How does it feel to take the helm of the Lowe SS 250 WS? At speed, the SS 250 WS presses you back against the lush living room of upholstery surrounding the crew. In turns, the power steering gives smooth control, and Mercury’s dynamic throttle easily maintains torque by feeding in throttle to keep the boat turning smoothly instead of dumping speed and wallowing through the turn. In straightaways, each nudge of the throttle returns rewarding acceleration up to a top speed of 51.6 mph.

The performance that comes from the 300 hp Mercury, the added buoyancy of a third pontoon, and the reduced drag from strakes that lift the tubes to the surface of the water optimize horsepower and increase the fun. Triple pontoons, 25 inches in diameter, are made of 0.08-gauge aluminum, and a protective keel guards the leading edge from impact. Also provided by triple tubes is buoyancy to ride clear of rough wakes.

Enhancing comfort on board this speedster are dual acrylic and fiberglass consoles complete with a beam-to-beam windshield that protects you from wind while its low-profile design adds to the boat’s sleek appearance. Also benefitting from the power are watersports enthusiasts who might enjoy skiing, wakeboarding or tubing at the end of a rope secured to the optional pylon.

Lowe SS 250 WS helm
Optional reclining chairs are available for the captain and mate. Zach Stovall

Style points at the helm include optional reclining chairs for the captain and mate. Armrests automatically adjust for comfort. Lounge seating surrounds the area forward of the windshield, but the low-profile design of the windshield keeps captain and crew in touch. The elevation of both consoles also enhances the view forward.

Aft seating is divided at the center stern boarding gate. A standard acrylic cocktail table was upgraded on our test boat with a clear acrylic table, with stainless-steel cup holders and wineglass holders for four. Three boarding gates, including a portside wheelchair-accessible gate, offer plenty of boarding options and also ease docking duties. Lowe’s durable construction, reliable power and knack for creating luxury on the water make performance, fun and comfort givens on the SS 250 WS.

Lowe SS 250 WS Performance Chart Data
Lowe SS 250 WS Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: Mercury 300 hp FourStroke V-8

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Enertia 14.7″ x 16″ 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.75:1

Fuel Load: 20 gal.

Crew Weight: 200 lb.

Price: $53,287

Lowe Boats – Lebanon, Missouri; 800-641-4372;

Manitou 25 Legacy SL offers comfortable cruising
LOA: 26’4″| Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (Max): 1’2″ | Dry Weight: 3,885 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 4/1,935 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 43 gal. Bill Doster

Manitou 25 Legacy SL

Like nearly all Manitou models we’ve tested over the years, the 25 Legacy SL featured an ultra-smooth ride and a sporty, inside lean through the corners that’s more akin to a traditional V-hull. Chalk it up to the builder’s patented V-Toon technology. Twin 25-inch pontoons flank a central 27-inch pontoon, dropped lower than the outer tubes. Taking into account the central tube’s added girth, the effect lowers the bottom of the center pontoon a full 5¼ inches and mimics a V-hull’s shape. Add the wide, positive-angle lifting strakes of Manitou’s Sport Handling Package (SHP) on all three tubes, Teleflex SeaStar Power Assist steering, and a performance transom design, and the result is a boat that powers instantly onto plane, banks sweetly into turns and, with our test boat’s 300 hp Evinrude G3, tops out at over 48 mph. (Manitou now offers Mercury outboard power.)

Manitou carries the performance feel below up to the look and feel of the helm above. Here, a standard 7-inch Garmin touchscreen display is surrounded in the brand’s trademark billet aluminum, an accent that carries over to the retaining gate for a padded mobile-phone tray, the propellerlike spokes of the tilt steering wheel and, in more functional fashion, the billet transom. Elsewhere, an optional matte-black powder coat provides a pleasant contrast, coloring the stylish supports for the minimalist glass windscreen, traditional pontoon fencing and Bimini hardware.

Manitou 25 Legacy SL helm
A standard 7-inch Garmin touchscreen display is surrounded in the brand’s trademark billet aluminum. Bill Doster

While both handling and styling scream performance, the Legacy’s interior is all luxury. Forward, parallel lounges, one 5 feet, 4 inches and the other 5 feet, 10 inches, feature generous thigh bolsters, and artistic, quiltlike stitching in the lumbar region. That same stitch pattern is found in the twin captain’s chairs (each with its own flip-up bolster) and on the interior panels of the aft SL lounge. The latter can be set up as a forward-facing bench with rear playpen, forward or aft-facing recliner, or just one giant 6-foot-8-inch-by-5-foot-2-inch sun bed. Eight cup holders surround the perimeter.

Manitou 25 Legacy SL Performance Data Chart
Manitou 25 Legacy SL Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: Evinrude G2 300

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Evinrude Rebel 15 1/2″ x 16″ 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.85:1

Fuel Load: 43 gal.

Crew Weight: 360 lb.

Price: $94,700

Manitou Pontoon Boats – Lansing, Michigan; 517-322-3822;

Sylvan L-3 DLZ running in the cove
LOA: 23’10” | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft: 1’8″ | Dry Weight: 2,100 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 12/1,650 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 60 gal. Bill Doster

Sylvan L-3 DLZ

Sylvan rigged the L-3 DLZ with performance in mind, and boy, does it fly. With the 250 hp Evinrude G2 for power, it leaped from a standing start to 30 mph in just 6 seconds. Top speed was nearly 45 mph at just under 6,000 rpm. Sound levels, however, didn’t get elevated until after about 4,000 rpm; at most economical cruise speed (21 mph, 3,500 rpm, 3.2 mpg), we recorded just 72 decibels—quiet enough for conversation. While we tested the boat with an Evinrude, we expect similar results with the available Yamaha, Mercury, Honda and Suzuki power choices.

This Sylvan is an excellent multipurpose rig, and it’s stylish, with new exterior fencing and décor for 2020. For cruising and partying, a set of short lounges in the bow face each other and will fit a couple of people each. The new Ultra Soft vinyl upholstery proved comfortable and supportive, with recessed roto-cast plastic bases underneath.

Deep insets—aka toe-kicks—allow more room in the cockpit, and don’t cut into underseat storage too much. Storage abounds on the DLZ; the optional SPX Package with optional in-floor storage and teak-weave floor covering gives a modern look and easy cleanup when the day is over.

Sylvan L-3 DLZ helm
A simple dash layout features Evinrude’s combination electronic instruments. Bill Doster

Amidships, the driver’s console is not raised and features a low, sculpted Lexan windscreen. A simple dash layout features Evinrude’s combination electronic instruments, which have a classic analog look, but offer every engine parameter one needs in LCD digital presentation. A Humminbird Helix 5 LCD graph fits well in the dash center. A Kicker stereo and cellphone-storage pocket complete the helm. Dual captain and co-captain chairs provide a stable navigation station for the skipper and mate.

Read Next: Essential Traits of the Best Pontoon Boats

Behind the cockpit is a nicely done multiposition couch lounger, which can be converted from a forward-facing two-person couch to a rear-facing lounge with a multiposition backrest. Pretty neat.

Abaft, a stainless-steel perimeter fence keeps everyone safe while underway and provides easy access to the stern deck for watersports. A ski tow and boarding ladder add utility and clean style to the stern.

Sylvan L-3 DLZ Performance Data Chart
Sylvan L-3 DLZ Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: Evinrude E-Tec G2 two-stroke 250 hp

Drive/Prop: Outboard/15.25″ x 17″ BRP Evinrude Rebel 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.85:1

Fuel Load: 25 gal.

Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Price: $76,235

Sylvan Marine – New Paris, Indiana; 574-831-2950;

Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar running wide open
LOA: 24’8″ | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft: 1’8″ | Dry Weight: 2,471 lb. | Seat/Weight Capacity: 14/2,590 lb. | Fuel Capacity: 60 gal. Bill Doster

Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar

This Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar provides an excellent example of what a triple-tube package can do for you. With a Yamaha F250 outboard bolted to the stout transom bracket, it rockets to 30 mph in a cat-quick 6.7 seconds, and tops out just under 44 mph. The best economy we recorded comes at a nice 21.6 mph clip, turning 3,500 rpm and burning 5.9 gph—that’s nearly 3.7 mpg. This ‘toon rolls through turns with finesse and sure-footedness. It’s a nice ride, to be sure.

With the do-everything CX 25 DL Bar, Starcraft takes its entertaining as seriously as it does the performance, developing a convertible bar-turned-lounge arrangement on the aft deck of this new single-engine 25-footer—and boy, does it turn heads. Raft up to the fleet at the cove or island, lower the bar, then recline and tan yourself awhile. When the sun drops below the yardarm (a phrase denoting cocktail hour aboard boats the world over), convert the arrangement into the entertainment bar and watch as crowds of friends and family belly up to it. It’s impossible not to notice this cool arrangement, just as it’s impossible not to thoroughly enjoy it.

The foredeck layout is conventional, with two inward-facing lounge couches that feature nice curved sections in the bow. The diamond-pleated, tufted-top upholstery is plush; it feels great to sink in and feel the comfort in the wind. And it’s a bit windy because the console offers just a low, sculpted Lexan screen for the driver.

Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar helm
Behind the windscreen is a fully outfitted dash console. Bill Doster

Behind the windscreen is a fully outfitted dash console, with Starcraft electronic instruments that sport a classic analog appearance. The optional blackout perimeter rails add a sleek touch to this performance cruiser, but as mentioned, the real magic is abaft: Once your crew gets a look at that convertible bar/lounge setup, they’ll think of nothing else for a while.

But this craft is fit for watersports as well. Besides the amidships party pit with removable table and the out-back bar setup, there’s a spacious aft deck for swimming, hanging out, or diving in with a tube or wakeboard. It’s got the performance chops to make it all a blast.

Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar Performance Chart Data
Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: Evinrude G2 300

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Evinrude Rebel 15 1/2″ x 16″ 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.85:1

Fuel Load: 43 gal.

Crew Weight: 360 lb.

Price: $94,700

Manitou Pontoon Boats – Lansing, Michigan; 517-322-3822;


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