Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Xpress Boats have been building quality all-welded, high performance, aluminum fishing boats since 1966. Now in its 3rd generation, Xpress stands today as one of the longest running independent boat builders in North America.
In 2006, Xpress made the leap into the pontoon world with the introduction of the Veranda luxury pontoon brand. With rapid market demands for Veranda products, the company soon found themselves exceeding their production capacities at Xpress, so in 2018 Veranda acquired their own footprint. A state-of-the-art 377,000 square foot facility was remodeled to suit the Veranda business model, and shortly thereafter production ramped up to meet consumer demands.
Today, Veranda has 8 different series of models. All Veranda models share one common benefit – they are all built using a patented all-welded, all-aluminum interlocking flooring system. This means all Veranda owners know they have a floor that will truly last a lifetime and a floor that provides the most durable mounting system on the market for furniture, helm stations, ski tow bars, and wakeboard towers.
On our cruise to the testing grounds, we noted very high recreational boat traffic on a busy waterway. With wind gusts in the 30 km/h range, we knew this was going to be a busy test day. Arriving dockside, the appeal of the polished indigo blue fencing blended beautifully with the high-back pillow top seating over the polished black fence rails. The intermingling of blue and black topped off with the white seating, and a white 300 HP Yamaha four stroke engine on her transom had me yearning to get the day started.
Exceptional attention to detail is everywhere – clearly Veranda stands behind their position as a luxury pontoon brand. In her interior, the shining moment is the seating. Not only are there abundant placements, Veranda is clearly using an upper end foam system as the seats are ’next level’ comfortable. And the back rests! Seriously, push your back into one of them and just smile.
Her raised helm design features a host of unique creature comforts including a wireless phone charger, JL Audio sound system, Garmin screen for boat and engine systems, multi-zone lighting controller (very cool), and a beverage holder with a cooling system built in it!
The wakeboard tower is beautifully powder coated, houses a pair of tower speakers and beautifully shows off Verandas’ exceptional welding capabilities. Look closely at the nickel welding on display on the tower joints -- that’s some serious craftsmanship.
When it was time to venture out, I was anxious to discover the answer to my one apprehension – I was concerned the aluminum floor would produce a higher-than-normal rate of water slap noise when cruising or running at speed. I love it when I am wrong! The Veranda patented flooring system creates no more noise than any other pontoon I’ve tested. To be fair, most brands that use wooden floor systems offer an underneath ‘skin’ package that pushes the water back down – by using an aluminum sheet under the deck. Verandas aluminum flooring system takes care of that with its sheer design. Looking underneath the floor while still at the dock, instead of finding pressure treated boards I found myself looking at patented extruded aluminum planks.
At 3,500 lbs, the VP25 RCT carries similar weight to others in her class and I was more than eager to put her through the paces. The Veranda left me with an ear-to-ear smile as she delivered blistering 3.44 second average hole shots (I normally do three passes but this was so much fun I did six). Her full-length lifting strakes are a major contributor to this exceptional performance.
With three of us on board and a full tank (200L / 55 US gal) of fuel, we moved on to exploring cruising speeds. Under choppy conditions and modest 12 – 18” waves we cruised comfortably at 20 – 24 mph. I had ample opportunity to corner the Veranda in both aggressive and non-aggressive maneuvers. With little to no cavitation (just manage your trim as always) the Veranda sliced through the waves, cornered like a sports car, and delivered tons of smiles to all of us on board.
Our top speed conversation became an on-board bet – one saying just over 30 mph, another thinking maybe 35 mph, and one of us saying we could find 40 mph. After the bets were in place, our host dealer reported a top speed from the day prior of 38 mph. That became my target. Pushing her into the wind and waves and using safe amounts of trim, she was more than ready to show us 35 mph. That was fun, but I wanted more, especially knowing the dealer had found 38! Back we went and with the waves a little calmer, we quickly pushed her to 35, trimmed a little more towards 38, and on a long run we climbed all the way to 40 mph. Challenge accepted. Target achieved!
I love exploring new technologies and have always enjoyed the passion that boat manufacturers put into the products they create. I genuinely appreciate the opportunities to test them. Veranda has a unique position in the market thanks to their brand commitment to building exceptional high-performance luxury pontoon boats. If I were in the market, and if I had a Veranda dealer in my area, they would be very high on my shopping list.
|Dry weight:||3,500 lbs||1,588 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||55 US gal||208 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Yamaha|