Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

Tell it like it is!

Moderators: Redneck_Randy, badmoonrising, lakerunner

What brand is better?

Poll ended at Tue May 03, 2016 6:41 am

Total votes: 14

User avatar
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:05 pm
Location: Fenton MI

Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#1 Post by nucleuscracker » Mon May 02, 2016 6:41 am

take the poll and let me know your thoughts!

looking to buy our first pontoon, "upgrading" from a 20007 Yamaha AR230.
A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat
(Quote by - Stephen Wright)

Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:56 pm

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#2 Post by Gonefishing » Thu May 12, 2016 8:17 am

I like forest river makers of South Bay and excursion which I have the excursion and love it
Bob Jacksonville, Nc

2013 Excursion X23 RFC
2013 115 Yamaha
Pulled with a Ford King Ranch

Posts: 3637
Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 1:44 pm
Location: NW Alabama--Tennessee River

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#3 Post by Bamaman » Thu May 12, 2016 8:57 am

My favorites are Bennington, Premier, Harris and Manitou. But there are another dozen brands I'd be glad to own. The best brands will have different boat lines from very nice to really plush--at all price points.

Bennington is #1 in sales. Only they and Forest River's brands are experiencing substantial sales increases with the rest of the industry sales flat.

What's surprising is that many parts of the country don't have many brands of toons available. Suntracker is all over the country but I don't care for their one price everywhere tactics--with very expensive delivery and prep. charges. I bought my Bennington for $2-3K cheaper than the comparable Suntracker.

My Bennington came with a Yamaha outboard, and they're Yamaha's largest customer for outboards. You'll always save money purchasing a boat with the engine supplied by the manufacturer (any brand) because they buy'em so much cheaper in bulk than an individual franchised dealer can buy'em.
'12 Bennington 24' SSLX Yamaha 150

User avatar
Posts: 297
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:17 pm
Location: Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#4 Post by Strake » Thu May 12, 2016 9:03 am

I too like Forest River Marine ..... they also make Berkshire....... They are a Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet) company. I couldn't find where to enter my vote on your poll for "OTHER".

I was initially hoping to buy a Bennington, as I spent considerable time on our friends Benny and liked most everything about it. But when I got comparing pricing and weighing the quality of construction which seemed to be equally good on the Berkshire..... actually had WAY better under skinning on the Berkshire as the under skinning goes ALL the way to the bow and the Benny under skinning stops about where the playpen rails are ( 2 feet back).

The nearly identically equipped boat (apples to apples) comparing the Berkshire to the Benny ( at our local dealers at SML) was about $10k less expensive buying the Berkshire. I wanted a Yamaha 200 with power hydraulic steering..... no problem, as my dealer is also a Yamaha Dealer, but I could have actually done better on my deal, as Berkshire is "partnered" with Mercury, just as Bennington is "partnered" with Yamaha. Had I chose the Merc 200 I would have saved a little more....... As it turned out, Yamaha had a special going, AFTER I had placed my factory order, that if you took delivery during a specific time window, they threw in an additional 3 years of full warranty...... So I got a full 6 year warranty on the engine :thumbsup

We've had it a year and a half (factory ordered and took delivery Nov 2014) and put about 78 hours on thus far. No complaints..... Lovin' it. Especially enjoying NO carpet..... ALL Vinyl (fake gray teak) and we get tons of complements on it, and my buddy with the Benny WISHES he had gone Vinyl as his carpet looks rough, even though he's cleaned it a few times. In fairness to him, he's got 5 grandkids, and we have NONE :biggrin2

A plus for the Benny is that you can get a factory done Sharkhide on the toons prior to it ever seeing water. I had ours cleaned and Sharkhided after a year.

As others have stated, depending where you are, certain brands are less available. I don't know of a Harris dealer at our lake, and just found out about a small marina that has the Avalon dealership. Two brands, I didn't check out in person. The Berkshire dealer at our lake is the same dealer I've dealt with for 5 years as they are the Sea Ray dealership too and gave me an AWESOME trade in on our 26 ft 250SLX Sea Ray..... gave me within $2k of what I could have realistically sold it for privately, against a heavily discounted new Berkshire/Yamaha package, factory ordered.
Richard and Angie
Smith Mountain Lake, VA
2015 Berkshire 233 RFX STS
Yamaha F200 LB

User avatar
Capt Sully
Posts: 2087
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:41 pm
Location: Kennesaw, Ga.

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#5 Post by Capt Sully » Thu May 12, 2016 5:58 pm

For me it's Forest River makers of South Bay and Xcursion which I have the Xcursion

2012 Xcurison X23C
Yamaha 90 hp 4 stroke
Dual axle full bunk trailer ready to go
All pulled with Z71 4WD Silverado
Maritime mobile KD4LZL
Lake Allatoona, NW Ga.
FVC USCG Auxiliary
Vietnam 66 / 67

User avatar
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:12 am
Location: TEXAS

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#6 Post by rsscoggins » Thu May 19, 2016 8:50 am

I am new to pontoon boats (not new to boating however) and when we were looking, we wanted the most value for the money. My must haves were 150 hp motor, tri-toon, aluminum trailer and vinyl flooring. We looked at every boat dealer in North Texas and was freakin' AMAZED at what they were asking for pontoons. I have bought go-fast boats (Baja, Checkmate, Eliminator) for cheaper than some of these pontoons!

We ended up going to the Fort Worth boat show to look at all the manufacturers under one roof. My wife liked the Berkshire brands (SouthBay, Xcursion) and we did have great luck with a Forest River Toy Hauler in the past. However, when we came across the Sylvan boats display and started looking, they offered the most value for the money for us. We got a true tri-toon (not an express tube) equipped the way we wanted it for about $10K less than other manufacturers. My wife and I are honestly asking how they can sell theirs for this price or more importantly why are the others selling at a higher price. We ended up ordering a new boat (Sylvan Mirage 8522 LES) as the one at the show had sold and the others on the dealers lot had to go back to the factory for reskinning due to the hail damage that they received earlier this year.

So that being said, we are taking delivery next week hopefully and don't have hands on experience with this boat yet other than a test ride. My opinion might change when we have to "live with our purchase decision" but based on my research and crawling in, on and around most of the manufacturers boats, we feel that the Sylvan met all of our criteria at a price point that we were very pleased with.

How do I vote in the poll?

Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:19 pm

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#7 Post by Soonertoon » Thu May 19, 2016 9:12 am

Ok, I guess I will be the fly in the ointment this morning....

Here comes the truth...it doesn't make a tinkers damn what the rest of us think or like when it comes to a boat. Its YOUR money and NOBODY ELSES. Everyone has a favorite, mostly because that's what we bought . what we bought and liked means zero in the end. Determine what you want in a boat, how you intend to use it, what type of commitment you are prepared to make both time and financially and go from there. There are multitudes of makers out there that make some very fine boats. With all of the competition and the interest in pontoons so high, the manufacturers have all had to improve their offerings. Don't fall into the Harley Davidson syndrome when it comes to picking one . Like Harley, there are a few manufacturers that have captured market share in great big chunks due to the superb marketing and image /branding campaigns they have conducted. while they do make some nice units , they are but a SMALL percentage of the fine makers out there. There are no perfect brands.
Opinions are a dime a dozen and that's why they are so cheap. Everyone has one. Buy what YOU like and what fills your needs. The rest of us don't make a shit as we aren't the ones paying for it... ( mic drop)
Broken Arrow Ok
2014 G3 Suncatcher
115 Yamaha 4 stroke
Paradise Cove Marina on Ft. Gibson Lake

ron nh
Posts: 982
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:07 pm
Location: Litchfield New Hampshire

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#8 Post by ron nh » Thu May 19, 2016 10:28 am

I believe Sylan/Starcraft are under rated, They don't cost as much as the big boys, or offer a billion layout options, but for $50,000 or under you'd be hard pressed to get a better boat.
2015 Qwest LS 818XRE Tri-toon w/mercury 115.

Posts: 3637
Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 1:44 pm
Location: NW Alabama--Tennessee River

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#9 Post by Bamaman » Thu May 19, 2016 12:51 pm

ron nh wrote:I believe Sylan/Starcraft are under rated, They don't cost as much as the big boys, or offer a billion layout options, but for $50,000 or under you'd be hard pressed to get a better boat.
All of the big boys have boats available in all price ranges. And in most cases, the hull is the same--no matter how plush the seating is. The fencing will be decent on them too. The big boys also have the highest quality computerized welding equipment producing the highest quality toons. They also have engineering expertise the smaller manufacturers may not have.

At a boat show, there is a visible difference in pontoon boats--comparing them side by side.
'12 Bennington 24' SSLX Yamaha 150

Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:49 pm
Location: Clayton NC

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#10 Post by TarheelBorn » Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:08 pm

Bennington has a 7 year bumper to bumper warranty on everything but the motor with no deductible. My bimini top got damaged in a recent wind gust. Took it to the dealer, no problem, they are replacing under warranty.
2015 Bennington 2250 GSR with 250 Yamaha
2010 Misty Harbor Biscayne Bay 2285CS (sold) Suzuki 115DF four stroke
2014 Chevy Silverado LTZ Z71
Clayton NC 27520

Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:48 am
Location: Ashland NH

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#11 Post by gmdfst » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:15 am

All brands have something unique to offer, a lot of good brands.
I ended up with Regency it seems to be the most bag for the buck 26" .1 toons seagrass flooring entertainment with water / sink GPS fish finder power steering the list goes on. And to top it off 10yr bumper to bumper warranty and on deductible ( exclude the motor) my last two boats where Crest and when shopping for my new boat the Crest was 20% more with less warranty.Bennington In my opinion is the bench mark but out of my budget.
Being on the water is the most important.
Enjoy you boats
2015 Regency 220DL3 Verado 200

Posts: 85
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 9:49 pm
Location: Baton Rouge LA

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#12 Post by captain28570 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:57 pm

I looked at Coach and Manitou here locally in Louisiana. The Manitou looked way better. A 22 tritoon with a very nice trailer,saltwater package,lifting strakes and 150 merc was 40 grand.

Pricing the Bennington online was a lot more than the Manitou.
2017 22 Manitou Aurora LE SHP Tritoon Evinrude G2 HO 150

Posts: 3637
Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 1:44 pm
Location: NW Alabama--Tennessee River

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#13 Post by Bamaman » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:00 am

Most of the major manufacturers have 3 or 4 different lines of boats--covering all price ranges. My S model Bennington is the least expensive Bennington, and it's as nice a boat as I need.

When I was pricing the purchase, it was substantially less money than the comparable Tracker model with the Mercury 150 FourStroke--after prep and delivery.

Aluminum is aluminum, and it's an expensive commodity. The quality of seating is important now--and 20 years from now when re-upholstering is finally required. It's doubtful that smaller pontoon companies can build a boat cheaper than those with top notch manufacturing processes who have the economy of scale when purchasing components.

Another issue is resale value on certain brands. As the old saying goes, "You can pay me now, or pay me later." Sometimes paying slightly more for certain brands, equipment and engines make them better values than going by price alone.
'12 Bennington 24' SSLX Yamaha 150

Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:43 am

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#14 Post by JRCORVETTE » Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:58 pm

I have been researching all the major brands of pontoons. They all say they are the best for one reason of another. Some have good points on one thing like multi-chamber logs and some say they have better fastener's or more cross-beams. Most are pretty similar in many ways.

I think all in all people will look at the layout and quality of the furniture and price when they buy.
If possible they will tend to buy the brand that is closest to their home for service reasons.

I have narrowed it down to the following MFG (too many)
Bennington - pricy but very good quality
Manatu - very pricy but an awesome pontoon if you are into speed
G3 SunCatcher - a Yamaha company and good value
Regency - upper line from Tracker Marine (Bass Pro)
Berkshire or Trifecta - both Forest River companies.
Harris - been around a long time making only pontoons can be pricy on the high end.
Crest - been around a long time also but not a lot of dealers
Aqua Patio - a Godfree company also been around a long time and a good value
Avalon/Tahoe - they only make pontoon boats not really high end but nice and good value

I will end up buying the one l like based on price (always like a good deal) and layout and lastly location.

Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:52 am
Location: NW IL & LOZ MO

Re: Which pontoon manufacturer do you prefer?

#15 Post by seandebi » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:00 pm

Well, we just ordered a Manitou Aurora 230 with the SHP toons and a 200hp Suzuki. This will be our first toon. We did take a test ride in the exact same boat, but ordered the colors and digital version motor we wanted. After much research the Manitou has the quality ànd performance we wanted. I spent a fair amount of time watching the wake the boat produced, as we do a lot of wakeboarding. The wake this boat makes is very similar to our runabout. This is my first post on this forum, I'll provide more feedback after we get a few weeks on the meter.
Sean & Debi
1999 Four Winns Horizon
2017 Manitou Aurora SHP 200hp Suzuki

Post Reply