Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Curb appeal, generous comfort and great performance. As the focal points for Starcraft’s SLS Series we eagerly awaited our opportunity to put the redesigned SLS 5 through the paces. As our hosts eased her to the docks the appeal was impossible not to notice as the painted tubes mated perfectly with the orange, grey and white colour scheme that pulled up through the fencing. I learned that the paint and graphics scheme is part of the SP package that also includes a unique 3 layer marine mat on the floors further highlighting the grey and orange colours.
With pontoon boats answering consumer demands for more features, high end creature comforts and big HP on the transom it’s important to understand what’s happening underneath the boat – in the construction category – to assure you that what’s on top of the boat will last your family for years to come.
The SLS 5 features Starcraft’s HMX tubes which feature strategically placed performance strakes. Your benefit is less surface drag, better lift, faster planning and fun to drive tight turning radius. The HMX package also gives you the center tube with a monster 60-gallon (227 litre) fuel tank, performance shield, ski pylon and Sea Star hydraulic steering.
Underneath the boat Starcraft uses a ‘hat channel’ method in the under structure of their pontoons. Heavy gauge, 6” wide channels are secured with up to twice as many fasteners as traditional C channel designs. Their thru bolted transoms are soundly constructed of .190” gauge aluminum supported by up to 20 stainless steel bolts – perfect for those higher HP outboards. Your benefit from their efforts is incredible stability and strength under the floors.
Starcraft gets behind their product with a Lifetime +6 Warranty. In essence, you get a transferrable to 2nd owner limited lifetime warranty on deck, tubes, transom and structure. Add to that a solid 6 years on components, flooring, upholstery and electronics and you’ve got the commitment you need to back your decision.
The exterior appeal blends beautifully into the interior of the boat. The floorplan of the SLS 5 is spacious and open with a total of 4 loungers – 2 in the bow and 2 in the stern. The interior vinyl treatment has loads of attention to detail and the exterior orange trim is tastefully pulled into the furniture in the piping and a couple of subtle logo treatments. You will appreciate the recessed cup holders in the bow section loungers and it was while relaxing there that I really took notice of the multi textured vinyls on the loungers – very nice touch.
The SLS 5 layout features a gently raised helm with a plush and comfortable captain’s seat, very soft to the touch wrapped steering wheel with Starcraft logo treatment and a smoked windscreen. An automotive style cover over the gauge package, lighted rocker switches, Kicker sound system, covered cell phone storage tray and a storage compartment on the starboard side of the console which could readily accept your choice of electronics.
Running solo down the lake for our test passes I had the opportunity to experience the benefits of that HMX package. It absolutely rocks! The turning capabilities of this boat were fun and nimble and the Evinrude Etec 200 was responsive and capable of pushing the 25’ 10’ hull with little effort. With a full tank of fuel, I consistently found 3.6 to 3.8 second hole shots which is excellent on a package of this size. I appreciated the 18 MPH @ 3,550 RPM cruise speed as well as 23 MPH @ 4,200. Our top speed after multiple playful passes was on the GPS @ 37.4 MPH @ 6,050 RPM.
The curb appeal got my senses rumbling as soon as I saw the boat. Her generous comfort was evident everywhere I looked, sat or lounged and the great performance – love how this package gets up in a hurry and turns on a dime – met my every demand.
|Dry weight:||2,471 lbs||1,121 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||60 US gals||227 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Evinrude|