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. Here is one of the best 2012 models. Enjoy!
Starcraft Majestic 256 Starliner
Our First Impression
Your eye might go to the bar table and stools in the stern when you first see this boat, but this `toon has a lot more to offer, including plush seating, an elegant-looking helm console and a ton of great amenities. When it comes to high-end features, this Starcraft has a lot going for it.
Starting at the helm, the ergonomic-friendly console not only looks attractive, but is very functional as well. Nothing is an afterthought, including the built-in dash fish finder and the angled speaker below for the driver. We love the woodgrain panel on the console that ties into the table as well as the gates, that really help give this boat a high-end feel to it. One nice touch is how the stereo, USB port and the 12-volt outlet are all integrated below the throttle so your tunes are all easily accessible. The entire helm station is elevated and includes an LED light strip, which looks great at night. Speaking of LED lights, the lighted cupholders are a nice trend we're seeing these days, but after we reached 24 we stopped counting. Rated for 14 people, that's nearly two cupholders per person! The extra lights onboard really give it a unique look.
The standard bar with a Corian countertop and two bar stools is great feature and it might be a good idea to add an optional fridge, although this particular model didn't have one. There is plenty of great storage below the counter and really all that is missing is a sink and possibly a second 12-volt outlet and this would be the ultimate entertaining area. Across from the bar area is a rear-facing lounge. With the two in the bow, there are a total of three on this model.
There is nice synthetic teak flooring in both the bow and stern, but we really like how it looks just outside the rear gate. This area is well-finished with a ski/pylon, extended swim deck and a four-step boarding ladder. Inside the boat is solid vinyl flooring, complete with snap-in carpet that allows for easy cleanup, while still providing a high-end look.
One other key feature is the in-floor ski locker that is 18 inches deep and seven feet long and is part of the optional performance package. Plus, it's backed with Starcraft's lifetime plus 6 warranty, which covers the life of the tubes, deck and transom and six years on everything else. This could be considered the best warranty in the industry.
Three 25-inch diameter chambered pontoons are the base of this 26-footer that includes lifting strakes on the outside pontoons. The weld quality is excellent and the hat-shaped cross-members that are bolted and screwed to the plywood deck are on 24-inch centers. There is a full splash skin, and the below-deck wiring is average, helping earn high marks for craftsmanship.
Above deck there is nearly 22 feet of usable deck space from inside the gates. Worth noting is how clean and organized the wiring below the helm console is.
Ideal for sunset cruises, the Evinrude 200 E-TEC is a great fit for this Starcraft. We reached a top speed over 30 miles per hour and we were able to turn tighter than we expected. She turns nice and flat in the corners and overall handled quite well.
Who Should Buy It
True, this would be a great entertaining boat, but your average family will appreciate the layout as well. It has the power to pull tubers, while the luxurious and high-end design makes it quite appealing to a lot of people.
Why We Love This Boat
It truly feels like a high-end luxury pontoon with the comfort and amenities that you may not appreciate until you've spent some time onboard.
just Being Picky
Everything but the kitchen sink.literally. We love the standard bar, but we would like to have seen a sink included with this package.
Bar with countertop and 2 bar seats, raised fiberglass console with LED-lighted toggle switches, high-back helm chair, underwater lighting, lighted cupholders, bow/stern synthetic teak flooring and ski/tow bar.
Options On Test Boat
Performance Package (center pontoon with floor storage and performance strakes), vinyl floor and snap-in carpet.
Vital Stats & Specs
Number of Occupants - 14
Price As Tested With Power - $49.9K
Maximum Speed - 33.9 mph
Wild Ponies - 200hp
No. of Gates - 3
0-20 MPH - 5.98 seconds
Ladder Steps - 4
Ladder Measurement - 3' deep
LOA - 26' 10"
Beam - 8' 6"
Hull Design - Three Pontoons
Dry Weight - 2,575 lbs.
Fuel Capacity - 30 Gallons
Tallest Rail Onboard - Sides 27"
Lowest Rail Onboard - Sides 27"
Changing Room Height - 5' 5"
RPM vs. SPEED vs. D-A
600 2.6 mph 76
1000 3.1 mph 76.5
1500 5.4 mph 80
2000 8.9 mph 85
2500 11.9 mph 89.5
3000 16.0 mph 91
3500 19.5 mph 89
4000 22.2 mph 92.5
4500 25.0 mph 95
5000 28.8 mph 95.5
5500 33.9 mph 98.5
Price As Tested $49,899
(Boat and Motor)
(Boat Only) $30,999
New Paris, Ind.