By Amanda Comission
It’s no secret the pontoon market is burgeoning. So it’s natural manufacturers are striving to engage those looking to get into the lifestyle with enticing entry-level packages. The Aurora series is just that for Manitou.
The Aurora line encompasses 10 models ranging from just under 19 feet to 26 feet, 4 inches, some equipped with the VP triple log performance package. Our test boat, the 22 Aurora Lounger, sits in the middle of the series and sports the functional twin-log package.
Manitou doesn’t believe “entry-level” necessarily means you need to sacrifice, though, so the 22 Aurora comes with a standard list of features and amenities to ensure boaters are cruising in style. There are also plenty of options to customize as you like or your budget will allow.
The layout is tried, tested and true pontoon, with two facing lounges forward, L-shaped seating around a table aft and the helm seat tucked to starboard at midship. Throughout the boat, there are plenty of places to hide lines, gear and toys under the seating so you’re well equipped for days out on the water.
At the helm, the 22 Aurora’s high-back bucket-style seat is comfortable and provides a good view forward, although it does not feature a bolster and does not recline. The simple and clean gauge array sits up top just below a windscreen, while the Jensen stereo controls are tucked below and left of the Soft Touch steering wheel. Inside the helm console, there’s additional space for storage.
Just aft of the portside gate, a pop-up change room provides a convenient spot to take off wet gear before your leisurely cruise home at the end of the day. Or you can simply leave some time to stretch out on the large aft sun pad and dry out in the sun before heading back to dock.
Next to the sun pad, you’ll find the starboard gated access to the transom. On our test boat, a wide four-step ladder sits on a good-sized platform next to the 40-hp Mercury Big Foot outboard.
Although a pontoon provides just as much enjoyment sitting still as on the go, it was time to hit the waves and see what the 22 Aurora had to offer. On a beautiful July morning, the boat cruised confidently down the lake. The twin-log package is not geared for performance, but rather for fun – and you’ll have no problem finding that with this boat and engine pairing. Our test boat cruised comfortably at 15 mph and 4000 rpm, hitting a top speed of 21.25 mph at 5300 with one on board.
Those looking for pontoon comfort with added performance may want to opt for one of the Aurora models offering the VP performance package, as it would bump the max horsepower up to 150 and provide enhanced manoeuvrability.
Pontoons really have been surging over the past few years. For their part, Manitou wants the experience to be the “beginning of something wonderful.” With a wealth of models and options to choose from – all with the excellence of quality and engineering the company is known for – it is sure to also be the beginning of a happy ending.
This boat is featured in the Summer 2014 issue of Boats&Places.