Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
Think back to what you were doing in 1986. You may have been busy building your family, or beginning your career, you may have been retiring from a rewarding career and for some of you, you may have still been in diapers.
While you were doing some or any of the above, a young team of passionate designers, engineers and professionals were kicking around the idea of launching a new boat brand. With a passion for the water, a commitment to continuous innovation and a laser sharp focus on the pontoon boat segment, the Manitou brand was born.
Fast track to 2021. The company is now owned by BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) and the Manitou commitments have never wavered. Today they bring innovative pontoon designs across four unique series of models - Value, Recreation, Sport & Luxury.
It is the Luxury series XT 25 that is the focus of this review. Manitou has an excellent website that makes it easy for us consumers to build their dreams, there are lots of informative product videos, and the benefits of their years of innovation and pride in their craftsmanship are evident everywhere. The easy access dealer connection makes the next step a breeze.
So while I was super pumped from the web research, I admittedly was blown away when we arrived at the docks on test day. The immediate eye candy for me was the Power Tower, the helm forward position and the painted fibreglass exterior fences. Oh right - and there was a sweet looking Mercury 300 Verado clipped on the transom telling me she was ready to play.
The Power Tower lives up to its reputation with a flip of a switch simple mode to lower or raise - a definite boathouse or garage asset for those that need. The bonus here is how beautifully the tower integrates itself into the fence and rails - so easy on the eyes. The tower flows upward from the rails flawlessly and the Bimini sunshade nestles into the tower seamlessly creating a shaded location for those who need.
The raised & forward helm seat is a drivers dream with a Captain’s chair that straps you in, raised footwell at the perfect angle, hand stitched wrapped steering wheel, and a clean dash that plays off the rest of the designs perfectly. Here you’ll find Manitous’ Digital Vessel Control featuring a pair of large matching Garmin touchscreens that feature more options than I can write in these pages. No toggle switches, no analog anything, just pure technology that is so easy to use it’s almost ridiculous.
As a Dad I must make mention of the standard Garmin VIRB. There is a center mounted camera on the tower that puts the watersports action onto the Garmin screen on the dash (where has this been all my life?!). You can even record the moments and take them home. Simply spectacular.
The split rear seats on this package both incorporate a powered backrest - whatever your guests shape or size they are sure to find the perfect relaxing position. The forward helm position offers even more leg room and space for guests. The rear backrest quickly lowers to turn each rear seat into its own lounger. Oh my!
Beautifully appointed stainless hardware is everywhere on the transom and it blends perfectly with the fence, the Tenero Marine Vinyl flooring, the incredible furniture designs, textures and cool touch vinyl and the blue LED lighting that is simply… everywhere.
Underneath the flooring is an engineer’s dream - features that will benefit every owner even though many will never know they are even there. The ‘SHP’ Sport Handling Package incorporates designs that deliver superior performance and support the use of maximum horsepower on the transom. The motor mounts are crafted from a machined solid block of aluminum billet. Underneath the flooring you will find positive angle lifting strokes and a barracuda nose cone design. A test drive in any type of water will show you that this hull delivers incredible performance in all types of conditions. The first time you throw this boat into a turn you will smile quietly as she hooks into it like a race car on a banked track.
After capturing all our photography needs and with now 2 of us on board, we moved out into the Thousand Islands to put the XT 25 through her paces. Holesshots from the big Verado were a very satisfactory mid 4’s consistently. On a 4,000 lb pontoon that’s actually amazing. If you have any level of appreciation for performance you will be blown away by the holeshot - this boat literally leaps out of the water to get on plane and the handling is so much fun I didn’t want to come back to the dock.
I recommend all owners take time to find their favourite cruising speed. They were, to put it simply, endless. With 3/8 of a tank of fuel we found 3200 & 4200 RPM respectively were great for our needs. Top end is a very respectable at an even 6000 RPM. None of which speaks to how much fun I had this package. If you have any doubt left in your mind that pontoon boats are anything less than a ton of fun to drive, go drive this boat.
When a brand locks itself into a category of boating as Manitou did so many years ago, either it works and the brand succeeds or it doesn’t and the brand fails. Manitou has succeeded because of passion, commitment, and continuously innovative engineering.
|Dry weight:||4,035 lbs||1,830 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||43 US gal||163 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Mercury Verado|