Review of the new generation of Manitou pontoons

A Journalist’s Review: Manitou Completely Redesigned and Reimagined Pontoons.
By Chuck Larson, Journalist.

The pictures did not do these new boats justice. Before attending a private introduction event in central Michigan I saw images of the new Manitou Cruise and Manitou Explore models with the MAX Deck, but I was unprepared for the sight of these exciting new pontoons gleaming at the dock like exotic sportscars in the late-summer sun. Manitou has literally changed the shape of pontoons. The sleek pressed aluminum sides and innovative MAX Deck are the features you’ll first notice. But you’ll need to step aboard, and take the wheel if you get a chance, to experience all of the innovation that defines the new Cruise and Explore models. Let’s take a look at five key features of these completely redesigned and reimagined pontoon boats.


1. Sleek & Modern Design

The eye-catching profile is created by forming the sides of sheet aluminum in a process similar to that of pressing automobile bodywork. This technique is exclusive to Manitou and enables the formation of complex shapes and the integration of forward lighting. The look is sleek and modern and the sides are lighter than those formed from fiberglass.

The aluminum panels are finished with a durable powder coat. A new feature you can’t see is the Transcore composite deck, which resists rot and is 30% lighter and 50% more rigid than a deck of ¾-inch plywood – which benefits performance and fuel economy. It’s also made from 100 percent recycled materials.


2. MAX Deck

The size of a small patio, the flat MAX Deck is a standard feature on Cruise and Explore models and is equipped with the Rotax S engine and the patented Manitou V-Toon® hull technology. This expansive deck unlocks 38 square feet of space for lounging, transporting a tube, or stowing gear and goodies using the LinQ integrated attachment points to secure an accessory 13.5-gallon LinQ cooler. The MAX Deck would not be possible without our next key feature.


3. Rotax S

The world’s first outboard engine featuring Stealth Technology is designed to fit below the MAX Deck platform, eliminating the intrusion a traditional outboard imposes on the transom, and silencing much of the motor’s sound. You get outboard power without having to see or play around the outboard, which takes safety and recreation at the stern to a new level. Available rated at 115 and 150 HP, the Rotax S utilizes a proven 1.9-liter three-cylinder two-stroke powerhead that is oriented horizontally and enclosed in a watertight case. It features standard digital controls, power steering, and automatic trim.

The motor trims below the platform. When tilted clear of the water it raises a hinged center section of the MAX Deck. The Rotax S is also efficient with a significant reduction in carbon monoxide at idle compared to other leading outboard engine brands. The Rotax S is truly a revolution in pontoon boat power, but Manitou does offer the option to choose a traditional outboard engine that would include a standard stern platform, in lieu of the MAX Deck.


4. Sport Bimini

Solid and silent, the new Sport Bimini is supported by a tubular aluminum arch that angles forward to complement the lines of the wall design. Since it is a gas-assisted bimini, it makes it easy to raise and lower the arch with one hand. The 12-foot-long, one-piece Bimini top covers the deck from the helm aft and is speed rated to 55 mph, the highest rating in the pontoon category. The Sport Bimini is standard on Explore models and an optional upgrade for Cruise models.


5. Interior

Both the Cruise and Explore models featuring MAX Deck offer a clean, modern and integrated interior that rivals current automotive design. The seats have a new, contemporary shape and crisp colors in premium Simtex vinyl that complement the exterior. Drink holders and speakers are integrated into molded inwale panels. Switchback loungers, seats with adjustable backrests that can be flipped forward to create rear-facing seats or backward for forward-facing seats, are perfect for lounging at the beach or a cove.

The Trifold bench, offered on the Switchback and Navigator floor plans, offers 3-in-1 functionality with a seamless transition between a bench, table, and open space. And the helm has no traditional instruments – all critical information is displayed on a Garmin multi-function display that also incorporates GPS navigation capability. Each corner of the dashboard has a dedicated purpose, leaving the front of the steering wheel completely open. The wireless phone charging cubby, radio control, Garmin digital dashboard, and digital switching are easily accessible and intuitive.

The Manitou Cruise with MAX Deck is offered in 20, 22, and 24-foot lengths. The Manitou Explore with MAX Deck is available in 22, 24, and 26-foot lengths. Manitou makes it easier than ever to purchase either model, with option bundles of popular features, a short option list of extras, and transparent retail pricing so there’s no surprise at the dealership. 


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