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Bennington 24 R Bowrider Swingback Pontoon Boat Test

DATE POSTED:March 20, 2020

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I think the 24 R will change the market. First of all, its recessed fiberglass step-down U-Lounge is killer.

Go aboard. It feels deeper, larger and more secure than other pontoons. The captain and mate can easily see over the heads of the forward passengers, a clear advantage for confident command. In addition, the foredeck perimeter fences feature lowered top rails with see-through upper sections. These allow seeing through what is normally blocked, making it easier to dock and interact with those on the beach.

 Single Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Suzuki, Torqeedo or Yamaha outboard
LOA: 26'6.5" | Beam: 8'6" | Draft (max): 1'0" | Displacement: 3,753 lb. | Transom Deadrise: NA | Fuel Capacity: 58 gal. | Max Horsepower: 300 | Available Power: Single Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Suzuki, Torqeedo or Yamaha outboard (Bill Doster/)

The Integrated V-Hull Performance Package features a center pod; this V-toon adds lift, turning ability and stability, and the room to drop the foredeck.

The lounges in the bow feature Integrated Bench-Back Storage.
The lounges in the bow feature Integrated Bench-Back Storage. (Bill Doster/)

Forward of the bow section, there’s plenty of deck space to help with launching or docking. The bow lounges feature Integrated Bench-Back Storage, Bennington’s fancy way of saying that just below the upper pillows, the couches employ a deeply recessed shelf that allows for secure storage for stuff like cellphones, hats and sunglasses. Even the removable cocktail table is not typical; it’s a thick, wood-grained molded-plastic part that’s solid and securely mounted.

The Vantage Point captain’s chairs are beautifully stitched and plush.
The Vantage Point captain’s chairs are beautifully stitched and plush. (Bill Doster/)

The aft section features a wide lounge platform; the Swingback moniker refers to the reversible backrest, allowing stern passengers to face forward and enjoy the ride, or face the stern to watch watersports or interact with deck loungers and swimmers abaft. The arrangement features stainless-steel perimeter fencing for security while underway, and a matching boarding ladder for safe and easy egress.

The aft section features a swingback-reversible, wide-lounge platform.
The aft section features a swingback-reversible, wide-lounge platform. (Bill Doster/)

Our 24 R maxed out at 42 mph, with predictable and sure-footed handling in curves, over chop and through rollers. The best cruise speed was just under 16 mph at 2,500 rpm, where the Yamaha F300 gave back 3.4 miles per gallon. Acceleration was bass-boat quick, with 30 mph achieved in just 6.4 seconds.

High Points

  • Drop-level foredeck bowrider configuration changes the game.
  • Integrated view ports are a simple change, but one with effective results that make docking much easier.
  • Upholstery color combinations coupled with high-quality stitching, patterns and vinyls make Bennington interiors second to none. This 24 R is no exception.

Low Points

  • Pay to play: With a 300 hp outboard, nearly a buck and a half is the entry fee to this 24 R as equipped.
  • Added weight of the pod and drop floor affect speed and economy versus other models we’ve tested.

Toughest Competitor

Barletta’s E24QC compares closely with the Bennington 24 R, and we ran a little faster at wide-open throttle when we tested it, but of course, it doesn’t feature a drop-floor bowrider and V-hull center pod.

Price: $140,894

Available Power: Outboard

Bennington 24 R Bowrider Swingback Certified Test Results
Bennington 24 R Bowrider Swingback Certified Test Results (Boating Magazine/)

How We Tested

Engine: Yamaha F300 V-6 four-stroke

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Yamaha Saltwater Series II 15.75″ x 15″ stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.75:1

Fuel Load: 44 gal.

Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Bennington Pontoon Boats - Elkhart, Indiana; 888-906-2628; benningtonmarine.com