Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
At just shy of 25’ length overall (7.52 m), the Starcraft SLS 3 Q DH is positioned for many buyers as their second pontoon – perhaps the model they’ve come to after originally owning a 20’ toon that may have left them desiring a little more. And if your mindset is already focused on a pontoon that delivers an exhilarating ride, then get into your local Starcraft dealer and check this one out.
After making the drive down to Indiana from central Ontario we arrived at the waterfront bright and early the following morning to be greeted by the SLS 3 resting dockside. I am a firm believer in first impressions and this stunning craft nailed it. Her aesthetics are simply beautiful.
At the waterline her tubes are dressed in black paint – a must see if you’ve never experienced this before as painting the traditional aluminum tubes totally changes the overall look. Our test boat added deep grey fencing fitted with black anodized rails, black deck trim capped in a chrome finish and the Power Canopy was held in position with black rails as well. The tan hews of the sculpted backrests on the bow lounge seating and the height of the luxurious captains chair stood tall from dockside.
The Power Canopy gives you a push button on the helm electronics for raising and lowering the bimini structure. This is a great benefit for those who store their boat in a garage, deal with bridge clearance issues, or trailer their pontoon on a regular basis.
The rear deck features a polished stainless series of gates and fencing creating a safe extended playground for all guests. The backrest of the port side forward facing L-shaped lounger readily moves forward to create and oversized rear lounger with plenty of room for two or more. A large and accessible storage compartment is nestled into the starboard side fence behind the captains seat and this is where I would store fenders, lines, or life jackets.
Both the Captain and the first mate benefit from matching ultra luxurious seats that slide, swivel, and even recline. The fiberglass molded dash exudes luxury with basic gauge package (please add a trim gauge to this model) trimmed with chrome bezels, lighted toggle switches and stereo control on the left, Humminbird system to the right, handy covered cell phone storage and charging ports located between the gauges and the Gussi Itlaia Verona tilt steering wheel, lighted cup holders forward and storage underneath the console.
Both forward loungers are beautifully sculpted with multiple foam heights for maximum comfort and finished in multi-colour and texture vinyls. Recessed cup holders and multiple USB charging stations can be found throughout the interior and there are endless self draining storage lockers to safely stow your gear.
A key benefit of the SLS series is the standard inclusion of Starcraft’s HMX Performance Package. HMX adds a 3rd centre log with lifting strakes and additional lifting strakes on the inside of both outer tubes. Your benefits from this are better lift, less surface drag, increased speed, faster planning, and a tighter turning radius. I was looking forward to putting our test boat through the paces.
With 3/8 of a tank of fuel on board (approximately 100 L of her 227 L capacity), we headed out to the calm waters of Lake Tippecanoe in Indiana. The camera crew and gear boarded a different craft to shoot drone footage as well as video from the tower boat – the SLS and the Yamaha 250 was all mine!
As per my normal testing routine, I brought her calmly up on step for a run down the lake where I eased her into some turns, then ran a variety of speeds to get a general first impression for her capabilities. I did so with the SLS and much to the chagrin of the camera boat I quickly turned her back towards the marina and opened up the big Yamaha to really put the SLS to work. The performance and handling results of the HMX package was felt immediately and performed exceptionally.
With little effort I found a top speed of 45 mph @ 6,100 RPM. The lifting strakes did their job to bring us quickly up and out of the hole and hole shots averaged 3.08 seconds – on a near 25’ long pontoon boat. You bet I was smiling! I then toyed with a couple of options for cruising and settled on 24 mph & 31 mph at 3,200 & 4,100 RPM respectively. She will run on plane at lower speeds if you need but she was definitely more comfortable and most efficient above 24 mph.
I eventually found my way back to the camera crew and finished off the passes they needed for the video efforts as well as running footage and drone coverage. It’s not often that a pontoon captures my passion quite like the SLS – this combination checked so many boxes for me with exceptional performance wrapped in well thought out luxurious comforts. If those thoughts align with your desires, then check in with your local Starcraft dealer. You will not be disappointed.
|Dry weight:||2,750 lbs||1,247 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||60 US gal||227 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Yamaha VMAX SHO|