This article originally appeared in our 2015 Shootout issue. If you are interested in seeing this in print along with 25 other boat reviews, click HERE to purchase the back issue.
What You Need To Know
For years we’ve credited PlayCraft for building fast racing pontoons and often completing the packages by using NASCAR-like graphics and upholstery work. So it’s only fitting that its latest pontoon is named after the DAYTONA 500 race, which does put a lot of pressure on this ‘toon to deliver similar results that we’ve come to expect from this builder. With a sporty look and the performance features to back it up, after testing it we feel it should fit in nicely with the rest of the lineup.
A lot is packed into this 23-footer that includes an aggressive red, black and white color scheme and the familiar checkered flag pattern. And because the furniture is all done in-house, there are over 50 different color combinations available so you can truly make your boat your own with the 35-ounce vinyl with a Pre-Fixx protective finish.
We love the colors selected for this model and especially appreciate how it all ties in together, including the red ski/tow bar. One of our favorite uses of the accent color is the red bezels around the gauges at the helm console because it adds to the sporty look.
At the helm is a very symmetrical console and several easy-to-read gauges with the Sony stereo unit located directly in the center for easy access. A hydraulic jack plate is one of the options included on this boat as-tested and the controls are located near the tilt steering wheel. For the captain there is a solid bucket helm chair that provides added stability for when you’re diving into sharp turns and directly across is an identical bucket helm chair for the first mate.
A rear bench with additional storage completes the stern of the boat and then just outside the rear gate is one of our favorite features—the PlayCraft boarding system. It has to be one of the easiest ways to get back on the boat from the water since actual steps are built into the pontoon log and when you add the two-step ladder below, you’re nearly two feet deeper in the water when compared to other ladders.
Other key features include two locking glove boxes, front bow corner storage units and an upgraded vinyl floor that ties in well with the interior, plus is easier to clean and maintain over the lifetime of your boat.
Designed with performance in mind, the three 24-inch diameter pontoons are braced well to the one-piece floor using C-shaped cross-members. Included in this package is a full-length performance shield along with heavy-duty extruded aluminum RAC-R-FINS.
Up top the rail height stands at a very family-friendly height of 28 inches tall around the perimeter and overall this boat earned high marks for its safe and well-built design.
Powered with a Mercury 250 Pro XS, the zero to 20 mile-per-hour time of less than five seconds really impressed us. She dives beautifully into the sharp turns and at full throttle we just missed the 60-mile-per-hour mark! This is an exhilarating thrill ride, but because of its “over-built” and solid construction, you feel extremely safe and perfectly in control at all times.
Sometimes it’s hard when you get a reputation in the boating industry as a go-fast pontoon builder to live up to those high expectations year after year, but somehow PlayCraft manages to keep setting the bar higher for itself. We go into each test knowing what to expect, yet are always still blown away by the performance as well as the quality.
2015 Boat Specifications
Number of Occupants 12
Maximum Speed 58.1 mph
Wild Ponies 250 hp
No. of Gates 1
0-20 MPH 4.89 seconds
Ladder Measurement 4’5” deep
Why we love this boat…When you can successfully combine power with a performance hull and throw in a NASCAR color scheme, what’s not to love?
Just being picky…Although available as an option, an in-floor ski locker to take advantage of the wide center pontoon should be included on this model.
PDB Days Reader Choice Feedback
We had heard they build fast pontoons, but now we know for sure.
X-Treme surface-piercing nose on each pontoon, aluminum castings on all corners, 28” tall anodized aluminum rails, limited lifetime CCA 7-ply plywood on decks, corrosion-resistant fasteners, color-matched bimini top, fuse protected wiring system, anti-feedback steering w/ tilt, selected Rotocast seat frames, courtesy lights, running lights, docking lights, Infinity stereo and 4 marine dual cone speakers, designer graphics, plush marine carpet, Milsco style Capt. seat w/ slide adjuster, L-shaped ensemble w/ snack table and extra base, port and starboard front sofas w/ storage, Powertoon style fiberglass console w/ tach, fuel, water psi, horn, speedo, windshield, and tilt wheel, 12-volt outlet, heavy-duty extruded aluminum RAC-R-FINS, and Triple Toon pkg. (third pontoon and perf. shield).
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Performance shield on outer bow of pontoons, sacrificial anodes, chrome PlayCraft name, X-Scape style ski/tow, raised rails and sofas, two-tone gauges w/ red rings, aluminum liner for bumper storage box w/ drain, two glove boxes, SS drink holders, thick heavy-duty vinyl flooring, black convertible top w/ 2’ red stripe, depth finder, hydraulic steering, red kick panels, front corner storages and hydraulic jack plate.
LOA 23’ 6”
Beam 8’ 6”
Hull Design Three Pontoons
Dry Weight 2550 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 50 gallons
Engine Mercury 250 Pro XS
Cylinder Type V-6
Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower 183ci/250hp
Lower Unit Gear Ratio 1.75:1
Propeller 14 X 18
RPM vs. SPEED vs. DB-A
580 2.9 75
1000 5.0 81
1500 7.0 85
2000 11.0 88
2500 15.8 92
3000 22.0 93
3500 29.1 94
4000 35.1 100
4500 42.2 103
5000 48.2 106
5500 54.5 107
5750 58.1 110