When it comes to pontoon boats, they’re much like cars—you can spend a ton of money for a luxury model, or save a significant amount by purchasing the entry-level series. The problem is that the pontoons found at the very ends of the pricing spectrum are often too niche to suit most people.
That’s why mid-range models are so important to pontoon manufacturers: they appeal to many different tastes and budgets. And when it comes to a solid mid-range pontoon boat, the Bennington 2250 GSR is one of the better ones I’ve run in the last few years.
The Bennington 2250 GSR is part of Bennington’s “G” series pontoons, which sit squarely in the middle of the Bennington model lineup in terms of trim level and price. The “SR” portion of the GSR moniker refers to the stern radius package. It includes an extended aft deck that makes slipping in the water or lounging with your feet draped over the side easy. Like any pontoon boat, the 2250 GSR’s layout is highly modular, and the options list includes several pages worth of items. This means you can craft the 2250 GSR just about any way you like it.
My test boat, as equipped, ran around $62,000, though the same model can be had for about $32,000 without so many options. Fully tricked out you can spend as much as $75,000, or more. That may seem expensive, but with many pontoons running well into six figures these days, it illustrates this boat’s mid-range position in the market.
One of the many things Bennington does well is seating and upholstery, and the lounge-heavy seating arrangement on the 2250 GSR is no exception. Stepping aboard I noted rich, buttery-feeling vinyl covering every seating surface, and cushy pillow-top seatbacks that made me want to lay back, relax, and take a nap. Fit and finish on the upholstery work was top-notch. The vinyl teak-look flooring option was installed on the boat I tested, which is a nice upgrade from the standard herringbone vinyl; it’s much more “grippy” underfoot and easier to keep clean.
Getting back to napping, the 2250 GSR’s seating arrangement features a pair of chaise lounges both in the bow and stern. The feet of those chaise lounges can be joined at the gates with optional filler seats that form a single U-shaped lounge. When not in use, the seat can be pulled out and used as a standalone chair. A disadvantage to these filler seats is that they can get tossed around while underway at speed. I found this out the hard way, by almost losing one overboard while testing the boat’s performance. Twin captain’s chairs round out the 2250 GSR’s seating package, amidships.
The dash and helm unit is crafted from a single piece of fiberglass, versus the rotomolded plastic that some manufacturers use. Fiberglass is far more solid-feeling and durable than rotomolded plastic units. Just aft of the helm sits an incredibly comfortable captain’s chair that swivels, raises and lowers, and also reclines. A leather-accented steering wheel centers the dash, with all sorts of gauges, dials, and LED-lighted control switches surrounding it within easy reach.
There’s nothing wrong with the standard gauges, but if you’re a gear-head like me, opt in for the Yamaha Command Link LCD panel. It displays all sorts of engine and performance data, such as speed, RPM, fuel consumption, engine temperature, and more.
I also liked the locking pullout dry stowage under the steering wheel—a great place for phones and wallets.
Seating is set atop rotomolded PVC bases with tons of stowage underneath, and there’s additional optional stowage inside the center pontoon tube for items such as skis and wake boards. Access to the under seat stowage is via hinged seat bottoms that lift up and outward… sort of. While the hinging feels sturdy and solid, the cushions don’t really fully fold down and out of the way, hindering access to the stowage areas.
On the back of my test pontoon was Yamaha’s new 150 VMAX SHO. The engine itself actually isn’t new, but the deeper, 25-inch “X-Shaft” is. It was introduced in the fall of 2014 to further expand the range of applications where these engines can be utilized. You know, like pontoon boats.
The VMAX SHO outboard lineup is designed to go toe-to-toe with modern two-stroke outboards, providing distinct two-stroke benefits such as pronounced hole shot, mid-range, and upper-end performance—without the two-stroke disadvantages of noise, fumes, and having to fill the oil reservoir. The 2250 GSR’s maximum horsepower rating is 250 with the ESP performance pontoon package and 25-inch shaft. The 150 VMAX SHO is around a $9,500 upcharge from the base 50-horsepower motor.
I ran the 2250 GSR as a stiff summer breeze filled in across Little Traverse Bay, stirring up a one- to two-foot chop that was a perfect way to challenge the Bennington's handling. Motoring out of the harbor at no-wake speed showcased how incredibly quiet the 150 VMAX SHO is, but I was also surprised at how subdued the noise was when I mashed down the throttle.
While the 150 VMAX SHO wasn’t neck-snapping fast as we accelerated up to 20 MPH, it took just under five seconds to get there. Trimming things up and continuing to accelerate, we topped 37 MPH at around 5,800 RPM, burning around 15 GPH. Pulled back to the area of 20 MPH and 3,500 RPM, the lean and efficient 150 VMAX SHO burns only 4.6 GPH, netting a theoretical cruising range of around 130 miles with the 32-gallon fuel tank.
My test craft was fitted with Bennington’s Elliptical Sport Package (ESP), which includes two 25-inch diameter outer pontoons with performance foils, a 32-inch elliptical center pontoon with lifting strakes, and an under-deck wave shield. The package enhances handling, improves overall speed, and increases buoyancy enough to handle higher horsepower motors.
The 2250 GSR handled the choppy conditions extremely well, keeping us all dry and comfortable, despite the breezy weather. It handled nicely, too, carving sharp turns and figure-eights with ease, and with very little leaning. The center tube enhances slow-speed maneuvering as well, and docking the 2250 GSR couldn’t have been easier, with great tracking stability long after the engine had been taken out of gear.
Does the Bennington 2250 GSR have any downsides worth noting? Yes, but only a few. The boat as a whole feels very sturdy and well built, but the Bimini top felt a bit lackluster to me, creaking and moving quite a bit underway, as well as being kind of clumsy to put up and take down. The pop-in table also didn’t feel up to Bennington’s premium standards.
All in all, it’s extremely difficult to go wrong with a Bennington pontoon boat, and the company has executed a winner with the 2250 GSR. If you’re on the hunt for a comfortable, capable, and well-built mid-range pontoon boat that maximizes the relaxation factor in your boating, the 2250 GSR should be a solid contender for your boat-buying dollars.
Other Choices: A couple of other capable pontoon boats in this size range include the Harris FloteBote Solstice 240 and the Regency 254 DL3.
View Bennington 2250 GSR listings.
For more information, visit Bennington Marine.
|Test conditions: 1-2 foot chop, winds 15 knots, 3 POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Single Yamaha 150 VMAX SHO four-stroke outboard, swinging a 14.5" x 15" three-bladed stainless-steel prop.|
|Fuel capacity||32 gal.|