If you haven't been paying attention, pontoon boats have shed their Huck Finn awkwardness and evolved into sophisticated and luxurious waterways cruisers. Making the most of production line savings, pontoon boat manufacturers are often able to keep their costs below those of conventional boat builders, and those savings are intriguing buyers across the country. Whether you're looking for a lake fishing machine, a watersports boat with enough room for your neighborhood, or just a family boat for weekend outings, there's likely to be a pontoon boat in your price range. To get an idea of what's popular, we talked to a cross section of pontoon boat builders nationwide and asked them to pick out a popular boat from their line and tell us about it. We specified it had to be a basic boat rather than one loaded with options, and here's what we've come up with for you.
Sun Tracker Party Barge 24
The most popular pontoon boat from the largest manufacturer of pontoon boats in the world, the Party Barge 24 is now a part of SunTracker's new Signature Series, meaning it has no wood in the construction. Their Dura Deck floor is assembled from interlocking extruded aluminum planks covered with marine grade carpet, and the transoms feature an all aluminum box beam. The result is a boat that can't rot from improperly treated plywood.
Priced at $26,995 including a 115 HP Mercury outboard with electric, the standard boat includes twin lounge seats forward that pull out to create sunning or sleeping areas, and a wrap-around settee aft with underseat storage and a raised sunpad. The vinyl upholstery has rot-proof rotomolded bases with lined storage compartments. A portable MSD with privacy curtain is included. The vacuum-formed helm console has full instrumentation, and a small windscreen.
For more information visit Sun Tracker.
See our Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 video boat review.
PlayCraft PowerToon 22
The PowerToon is available in three lengths, the standard 22-footer, a 24-footer, and a 26-footer with up to a 300 horsepower stern drive. The PowerToon 22 has a triple pontoon design, with 24" logs of .090 gauge aluminum, each fully filled with closed cell foam flotation. The PowerToon also has twin forward deflectors to keep spray off the passengers even in choppy waters.
A patented rear exit/entry system is a feature of the 22, which also has twin side gates and a bow gate opening onto a foredeck area. Twin lounges face across a cocktail table forward, and an L-shaped lounge is aft around a larger dining table. The molded helm has a tinted windshield and swivel bucket seat, and includes full instrumentation for outboard engines up to 150 HP.
For more information visit PlayCraft.
Read about PlayCraft's PowerToon Extreme, in 5 Rocket Fast Pontoon Boats.
Premier Pontoon Boats
If you want the biggest, grandest, most luxurious pontoons around, you may want to look at the Premier line. It includes the gigantic Premier Diodici 310, among others, and has set a new standard for what a pontoon boat can be. Visit Premier or see our Premier pontoon boat reviews:
- Premier Diodici 310: Triple the Fun
- Premier Grand Entertainer 290: a Wide Beam Pontoon Boat
- Premier Sunsation 270 Walk On: Joystick Joy Ride
See all boats.com pontoon boat reviews.
Editor's note: this article was updated in July of 2017.