Boat Test Monday: Manitou 20 Aurora

February 2013 Boat Test Monday Brady L. Kay

Our First Impression

Here is another good example of a head scratcher. This Manitou is capable of speeds over 40 miles per hour, turns like a V-hull with three pontoons and yet the price as tested is under $30K. We know it's not always just about the price, but still, you've got to appreciate the value of a pontoon like this.

Consumer Test

There are three comfortable lounges onboard, two in the bow and one in the stern. The chaise in the stern has one of the easiest-to-operate changing rooms around. It's built into the back and takes up very little space, and when it's open it stands at over four and a half feet tall, which is ideal for younger kids.

Another great design feature is the rear entry that includes a telescopic stainless ladder with great handholds, plus there is even a standard ski/tow bar. Also standard is the rear vinyl that is not only on the swim deck, but it extends a little into the boat as well. This is like a "mud room" in the pontoon world where you can drip dry inside the stern gate after coming aboard. We just wish more boats had it, because when carpeted, it seems to be the area that collects a lot of water during the day.  

For a boat priced this well we hate to be overly critical, but cosmetically the interior doesn't seem to flow as well as it could. There is nothing in the vinyl or anywhere else to really tie in the red paneling and we feel the helm console could match up a little better. The steering wheel and stereo box are black, the panel uses a wood grain on the tan console and the throttle is gray. For a value-driven pontoon it works just fine, we're just being picky and wish there were more of a flow to this boat from a color standpoint. And in the bow, the gate could have been widened a little to fill in the extra space that's left from the entry to the furniture.

Overall we love the layout and the plush high-quality seating that provides plenty of great seating options for those who come aboard.     

Inspection Test

With the Manitou VP package (Value Performance) you get the unique hull that consists of two 23-inch diameter pontoons and a center 27-inch diameter tube. The lifting strakes are on just the center pontoon, and we found the weld quality to be excellent. The hat-shaped cross-members that are screwed to the plywood deck are on 12-inch centers overall and on eight-inch centers near the transom for added support. There is a full splash skin and the below deck wiring is above average.

From inside the bow gate to the rear bench seat there is nearly 12 feet of usable deck space on this 20-footer. The wiring below the helm is well-protected and bundled and the fit and finish work throughout the boat earned high marks.

Performance Test

The Evinrude 150 HO E-TEC is a perfect match for this Manitou. She banks nicely into the sharp turns and you can't help but be impressed by the top speed at 43.1 miles per hour. This Manitou handles well and is very responsive, which makes it a fun boat to drive.

Who Should Buy It

There is a lot of value in a boat like this. For what it lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up in performance. The wide interior design creates a sense of it being larger than it really is. This boat would be ideal for the young family who is looking for some fun on the water, while still staying on budget.

Number of Occupants             10

Price As Tested With Power   $29.5K

Maximum Speed:                    43.1 mph

Wild Ponies:                            150hp

No. of Gates                           3

0-20 MPH                               5.3 seconds                

Ladder Measurement:             3' 2" deep      


Why we love this boat.From the outside this is a very attractive and sporty-looking boat that backs it all up by performing well with very impressive top-end speed. 

Just being picky.Plastic furniture bases and not tying the red exterior colors into the vinyl work hurts the flow of this pontoon cosmetically, but we still like the layout overall.  


VToon hull, Sea Star steering, mooring cover, stainless rear-entry ladder and a quick-release bimini top.


Changing Station.


LOA                            20' 10"

Beam                           8' 6"

Hull Design                 VToon

Dry Weight                 1,950 lbs.

Fuel Capacity              24 Gallons



Engine                         Evinrude 150 H.O.

Cylinder Type             V6

Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower           158.2ci/150hp

Lower Unit Gear Ratio           1.86:1

Propeller                      17 Viper


RPM      vs.     SPEED     vs. DB-A 

500                  2.6 mph           76.5                            

1000                4.8 mph           77       

1500                68 mph            80

2000                10.5 mph         84.5                            

2500                15.5 mph         94       

3000                20.0 mph         94       

3500                26.2 mph         98.5                            

4000                30.5 mph         99.5    

4500                36.5 mph         98.5    

5000                41.4 mph         102.5

5200                43.1 mph         103.5


Phone: 800-999-9788


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