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 2011 models. Enjoy!
Our First Impression
Welcome to the world of high-end boats. It’s hard not to be
impressed when you first come aboard this Bennington,
especially when you start to notice the fine details that go into the layout as
well as the luxurious-looking helm console. Quality never looked so good.
Nothing is an afterthought on this boat, as even the
portable cup holders have been molded to perfectly fit the contour of the seat
cushions. We also like the extra wide chaise lounge in the bow where the bench
seat has been flared out to accommodate the design. Plus built into the lounge
seat is a fold-down armrest, complete with a drink holder.
To compare the helm console to a Jaguar in the automotive
world might not be a high enough compliment for this dash. The next generation
console is very stylish, elegant and has a distinctive look like no other. The
easy-to-read multi-function gauges flow well with the design, and included in
the standard features is a Garmin depth graph that is recessed into the dash.
There is also a Sony stereo remote at the helm, while the actual unit is safely
mounted below the helm console, keeping it away from the harsh elements.
For the captain is a large, fully-adjustable reclining
two-tone vinyl helm chair and the throttle is perfectly within reach. Below the
helm console is a pocket in the lockable console door, but we still would like
to see a console glove box or a designated spot for loose items such as keys
and wallets if we had to be picky.
We saw plenty of in-floor lockers at our test, but the
biggest advantage this unit offers over the others is the extra width that you
gain with the elliptical locker that has its own auto bilge and a raised floor.
Below the large two-person sundeck is a large pop-up
changing room that stands just under six feet tall when fully opened. The
Surlast fabric used on the enclosure has zero stretch so it will stay nice and
tight for years to come.
Other features worth noting include the snap-in carpet,
ski/tow pylon and vinyl non-skid in the rear-entry section on the back deck.
The two outside pontoons are 25 inches in diameter and the
center elliptical pontoon is 32 inches wide, but still only 25 inches tall for
easier trailing options. The outside logs are chambered and each has an inside
performance foil to grab in a turn. The elliptical center tube has a pair of
lifting strakes. With the elliptical tube you get better displacement so you
get more performance using less horsepower.
The cross members are on 16-inch centers and are bolted to
the plywood deck. There is a full splash skin, and the weld quality below the
deck is excellent.
There is over 15 feet of usable deck space from inside the
bow gate to the rear bench seat. Overall we consider this to be a very safe and
family-friendly vessel. As far as the construction and quality are concerned,
this boat lives up to the high expectations that Bennington has set for itself.
The Sea Star power-assist steering combined with the new
Yamaha 225 SHO engine earned this ‘toon a perfect fun factor score. She’s quick
and responsive, and with the ESP Performance Package with center elliptical
tube we banked beautifully in the sharp turns. Even in rough water we enjoyed a
smooth ride while reaching a top speed of 46.5 miles per hour.
Who Should Buy It
For those looking to make a big jump from their current
model and get right to the good stuff, this Bennington is worthy of a closer look. It’s
well-built, fun to drive and the attention to the little details is amazing.