Boat Test Monday: Berkshire 223SLX Premium BP3

July 2012 Boat Test Monday

It's Boat Test Monday! Every year, we meet up with some of the top manufactures in the pontoon and deck boat world to test their newest models. All of these reviews are compiled in a special Boat Test issue that comes out during the first part of the year.

Berkshire 223SLX Premium BP3


Our First Impression

Looking to target the family market with this cruise/sporty pontoon, Berkshire hits the mark and then some with its 223SLX. Comfort doesn't take a back seat on this model, unless you're referring to those great rear-facing lounges that have really caught on lately. Beyond comfy, these rear seats are among the leaders in design and quality as Forest River continues to bring new and innovative features to our industry.     


Consumer Test

Starting in the bow, we like the new docking lights that are incorporated into the corner caps. It's a stylish look, yet functional as well. While the plush soft-touch vinyl seating onboard will probably get the most attention, it's the fiberglass helm that deserves some of the spotlight. The automotive-style dash is very eye-catching and the Humminbird GPS is recessed into the console and is perfectly centered for the driver. Like the GPS, the Clarion stereo is also top-quality and includes an MP3 port. It's not new, but we absolutely love that forward of the helm is a well-hidden faucet and sink; when the lid is closed you wouldn't even know it was there. Other key family features include a tall changing room below one of the rear lounges, a trash receptacle and an adjustable bimini frame to keep the material tight over the years.

Another great quality to this boat is the storage options. There are plenty of great places to store your items, including the in-floor ski locker that is 17 inches deep and six feet long. This compartment is the perfect spot to store your water toys and with the Verado outboard, the standard ski/tow bar is sure to get plenty of good use. The stainless steel ski bar has a powder coat finish and looks more like a work of art. Also outside the rear gates is a synthetic teak vinyl floor as well as a solid stainless ladder.


Inspection Test

Three pressurized 25-inch diameter pontoons with lifting strakes are the solid base of this pontoon. The lifting strakes are on both sides of the center pontoon and on the insides of the two outside tubes. The C-channel cross members are secured to the plywood deck and are on 16-inch centers overall and even closer near the transom. Wiring below is excellent and there is a nice aluminum splash skin that covers the full length of the undercarriage. The weld quality and fit and finish work overall are outstanding. 

Above deck there is over 16 feet of usable deck space from inside the gates. We found no dangerous or sharp edges and all the hidden compartments are well finished. For both fit and finish work and construction quality, this boat earned high marks for its safe design. 


Performance Test

Any thought of this just being a comfortable and stylish-looking pontoon were quickly put to rest once we put the throttle down. In just 4.8 seconds we were up to 20 miles per hour and at full throttle we reached speeds just over 40 mph. But it's how smooth this boat handles and turns that is the most impressive; this truly is a great performing pontoon. We cranked up "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles as we cruised back to the dock and felt it was the perfect song choice for this Berkshire.


Who Should Buy It

Forest River Marine basically took Cadillac style and combined it with sports car like performance to create this comfy and well-designed pontoon.  This is a fun boat to drive, with plenty of key features and overall we feel there is a lot of added value in this particular pontoon as tested that a lot of families will appreciate.


Why We Love This Boat
The rear-facing lounges with the pop-up arm rests and storage below are just one example of the thought that goes into the overall design of this pontoon.   


Just Being Picky
We did note a slight rattle at the helm when making really sharp turns, but it's nothing to be concerned with as the rest of the pontoon appears to be well protected against vibration noises.


Notable Standards
Fiberglass console with raised Butterscotch wood dash and steering wheel, molded sink with pump faucet, full instrumentation, Humminbird GPS and fish/depth sounder, tilt steering, helm courtesy lights, Clarion stereo with MP3 port, soft touch Sand Dollar interior, premium exterior "D" rail, extended swim platform with stainless ladder and ski/two bar, soft touch steel spring framed reclining helm chair and changing room in port bow chaise lounge.


Options On Test Boat
Teak stern vinyl floor.

Vital Stats & Specs
Number of Occupants - 12

Price As Tested With Power - $46.3K

Maximum Speed - 40.1 mph

Wild Ponies - 200hp

No. of Gates - 3

0-20 MPH - 4.8 seconds               

Ladder Steps - 4

Ladder Depth - 3'      

LOA -  22' 10"

Beam - 8' 6"

Hull Design  - Berkshire Performance 3 (BP3)

Dry Weight  - 2,540 lbs.

Fuel Capacity - 52 Gallons

Tallest Rail Onboard - Stern 27"

Shortest Rail Onboard - Sides 24"

Changing Room Height - 6' 1"


Test Drive

RPM      vs.      SPEED     vs.   DB-A  

780                  2.5 mph            89                               

1000                3.6 mph            88       

1500                5.1 mph            85

2000                7.0 mph            89                               

2500                9.4 mph            97       

3000                14.3 mph          91.5    

3500                18.1 mph          91                                           

4000                21.9 mph          94.5                

4500                25.5 mph          95       

5000                30.2 mph          98.5

5500                33.7 mph          100

6000                36.4 mph          101                             

6600                40.1 mph          103


Price As Tested                        $46,313

(Boat and Motor)

Middlebury, Ind.


Don't forget to check out our video of the test:

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