Manitou 25 Legacy LT

Is it a pontoon or a rocket ship?

by Chuck Warren
On my way to Duck Lake, just south of Lansing, Michigan, I thought about the last time I drove here and the surprise I found when I arrived.

Specifications

  • LOA: 26'8"
  • Beam: 8'6"
  • Draft:
  • Weight: 4,310 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 90 gals.
  • Water Capacity:
  • Power:
  • Price: Contact dealer

manitoupontoonboats.com

Although I knew what to expect this time, I was still excited to go for a ride on one of the newest rocket ships from Manitou Pontoons.

Duck Lake is Manitou’s testing grounds, where it has room to run its 60 and 70 mph high-performance creations. Blasting across the water in a 60 mph pontoon boat is just as much fun as it sounds. In fact, after my last visit to Duck Lake, I compared riding in the Manitou to sitting on your front porch in a hurricane. 

The Manitou 25 Legacy LT I had the pleasure of testing was closer to a rocket than a pontoon boat. Of course, things have changed a bit since I cruised around New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay in my grandfather’s 16-foot pontoon with its splintered plywood deck, pitted aluminum railings and 15-hp engine that would barely push the boat against a stiff headwind. That old boat definitely did not look or perform like the black and white rocket ship sitting quietly at the dock, just waiting for someone to bring it to life and blast off across the lake. 

Countdown

As I walked toward the dock, the new boat didn’t immediately catch my eye. I was expecting to find one of Manitou’s bright, colorful hot rods waiting for me, but the 2019 Manitou 25 Legacy LT was instead dressed in a very straightforward yet elegant black and white.

For about two minutes, the monochromatic color scheme seems just a little plain. Then it starts to grab your attention, like a really well-made tuxedo at a dinner party. 

This particular Legacy LT was also outfitted with Manitou’s optional Blackout package, which replaces many of the chrome components with black, such as the steering wheel, speakers, single-billet aluminum access door and logos. The boat also included a black Bimini top and color-matched outboards, giving it a clean, classy appearance. 

The boat doesn’t need a splashy paint job to be impressive. Manitou’s exemplary fit and finish, wide range of features and incredible performance set it apart from the rest of the pontoon pack. However, Manitou does offer many of its models in more dynamic color schemes, including lime green, bright red and an electric orange. 

Onboard

The 2019 25 Legacy LT brings the company’s best features forward into the new model year, but there are some subtle, sensible changes that provide an even better boating experience from Manitou. Its goal has always been to appeal to boaters who said they would never consider a pontoon, and the 25 Legacy LT certainly accomplishes that mission.

One of four floorplan options, the 25 Legacy LT‘s SRW layout (which our test boat offered) comes with full windscreens for the driver and passenger. The passenger seat is also more enclosed with the SRW layout, with better handholds and cup holders providing more of a copilot feel. 

The helm seat includes a flip-up bolster, and both captain and passenger seats have foldable armrests. The aft seating features fully adjustable, electrically controlled backrests, and can be easily converted into sun lounges.

There’s plenty of storage throughout the boat, with enough room in the center pontoon to hold waterskis and other large gear. The in-tube storage space includes a bilge pump and float switch so stored stuff remains dry. The center tube also holds a 43-gallon fuel tank with a single engine installed or a 90-gallon tank with twins.

Fore and aft seats cover felt-lined compartments below, while the port and starboard consoles also conceal more storage space. There is more than enough room to stash gear, store refreshments and tuck towels or other accessories out of sight. 

Manitou kept its blue LED accent lighting throughout the boat for 2019, with lighted seat pedestals, cup holders, courtesy lighting and more. The 25 Legacy LT’s JL Audio systems can also include Wet Sounds speakers mounted on the optional sport arch, and a secondary set of controls for the stereo has been added in back where it’s accessible to sun worshippers lounging in the aft seats.

This year, Manitou moved away from engine-specific controls and installed a more universal setup. A Garmin 742xs touch screen provides engine readouts, lighting controls and sport arch functions, while a Simrad Evo3 SmartScreen provides a depth finder, GPS and more. 

Ignition

The 2019 25 Legacy LT we tested was equipped with twin Evinrude 300-hp outboards, although the boat can be ordered with power options from several manufacturers in single- or twin-engine configurations. The choice of Evinrude power brings the total cost down with only a slight reduction in performance, and provides additional control options, such as the iDock joystick system. The intuitive iDock control system makes handling in tight quarters easy and docking simpler for less experienced boaters.

Manitou’s tritoon hull design is its secret weapon. Although tritoons are quite common these days, Manitou has taken the concept further, with scientific placement of the third tube and carefully engineered lifting strakes and fins.

The center tube sits lower in the water, creating a profile that Manitou calls its V-Toon design. The boat is quick to plane, launching out of the hole with minimal bow lift, and provides a soft, smooth ride. Control is also incredible, with hard turns possible at speeds that more closely resemble a V-hull than a pontoon boat.

Lift-off

With Greg and Tim from Manitou’s headquarters onboard, we left the dock and cruised out onto the calm water of Duck Lake. Tim cracked the throttles, unleashing the big 300-hp engines and sending us into orbit around the lake. On our first run, we went for flat-out speed, watching the speedometer cross up and over the 60 mph mark, with a top speed of 63 mph. I was in awe of the Manitou’s performance as we slowed slightly and turned back. 

After blasting off again, we spent some time crossing back and forth over our own wake and the ripples made by some of the other boats. We made a couple fast turns and, again, the 25 Legacy LT showed off the incredible handling characteristics of the V-Toon design. Through the tightest turns and across any kind of water, no spray ever hit the windshields.

Turning back towards the dock, Tim opened it up once again and we held on to the handrails while grinning from ear to ear. The 25 Legacy LT is faster than you would ever expect a 26-foot, 8-inch pontoon boat to be, but as I mentioned before, this is not your grandpa’s pontoon boat; this is a rocket ship.

As we were racing around Duck Lake, I kept hearing a voice in my head repeat, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”  And the problem was that now I really wanted a Manitou. 


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