First Bennington - 2014 22 SLX 150HP Build Review

SnakeByte

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Hi All,

I'm new to boating, but am looking to get into a pontoon for my family of 3.  We're in Madison, WI and would be spending time on Lake Mendota (10k acres).    We'll be doing cruising, some tubing, and maybe eventually some skiing.  The boat will be slipped during the boating season.  

We're way over our self-imposed budget, but have decided we want to buy a boat once.  I've tried to focus this extra money on the must haves.  I know there are many great options we could get, but honestly I'm now nitpicking what I really need, even low-priced "nice to have" items.

Here's our current planned build:

2014 22 SLX

Black with Java, Monochrome Interior Accent, no Exterior Accent, Standard X Logo

150HP Yamaha

SPS Package

Battery - Single Switch

In-Floor Storage

Sea Star Hydraulic Steering

Portable Cup Holders (2)

G-Series Helm Chair Upgrade

Extended Bow

Fish/Depth Finder - Echo 100

GPS Speedometer with Compass

Bluetooth Upgrade

Sony M6 Radio Upgrade

ABS Docking Lights

Heavy Duty Rub Rails

Ski/Tow Bar

Kicker Speaker Upgrade

 

A couple of questions:

 

1) Is the Teak Trapezoid table upgrade not available on the S-Series?  Weird, because the Matte Maple Trapezoid is available.  It lists an "Espresso Teak Table Upgrade" in the builder, but I assume that's only the tear drop with 2 drink holders since it doesn't call out the trapezoid shape?  Although it is $90, not far off from the Matte Maple Trapezoid, so maybe it is the Trapezoid?

 

2) Is the Kicker speaker upgrade worth it?  Are the standard speakers sufficient?

 

3) Are the Heavy Duty Rub Rails worth it?  I assume being a non-boater it will save us some wear and tear.

 

4) GPS Speedometer - Is there any value besides telling people your GPS Speed?  Just curious if being a non-boater I'm missing something?  Is accuracy really necessary for me on an inland lake?

 

Sorry for the questions on such inexpensive items, but trying to make a smart purchase by getting into a Bennington, without going overboard.

 

Thanks in Advance,

Jason
 

Jack M

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I believe ,it is now called " Espresso Teak Table " check with your dealer .

I would also recommend the Sharkhide ,

Yes,on  the HD rub rail 

On my SLX last year I upgraded the to the kickers ,I thought it was worth it .

I went with the Wet Sounds on the new one .

You can also upgrade them your self later if you  are not  happy with the standard

Blue Tooth on the radio ,

This is not offered ,check with your dealer about dual batteries . .

Dealer did mine for $125 .

I used my Garmin  car gps for speed and I know they offer a lake chip card for some units .
 
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cwag911

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Welcome Jason. We have the table and don't use it much. Kicker speakers are nice. Heany duty rubrail is a must. GPS speedo is accurate, regular one is not. I replaced the fishfinder with a Garmin GPS unit and love it.
 

kaydano

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We have a 24SSL with a 150 and the Express Tube.  I think the jury is still out on whether the SPS is worth the extra $ with just the 150 HP motor.  I would guess it is a better bang for the buck with a 200 than 150.  If you want to potentially save some money, you should test drive the two and see if it is worth it to you.

I'd skip the docking lights unless you expect to be out after dark a LOT.  And even then, they don't give off much light.  I'd rather have a clear bow area rather than have the docking lights.

GPS - You probably won't use this much, other than to test your max speed, which you can use your phone to do.  But I do use our car GPS on the boat from time to time to help me maintain a constant speed for kneeboarding (speed is a little more critical for that).

We never use the extra cup holders.  With the seating on the 22 being even tighter up front than our 24, my guess is you would be even less likely to use them than we are.

It is always good to know the depth of the water you are in.  The Echo 100 is fine for that.  Plus it gives you water temp, and you can see fish on it, but it's nothing great.  It's better than nothing for $100.

If I had to do it over again, I would put aftermarket speakers and head unit in our boat.  I've never been impressed with Sony audio stuff (always loved their TVs) but it gets the job done.  The kickers do look a lot nicer.  Not sure they sound that much better, but never listened to the stock units.  I don't think the kickers are anything special.  Bass is pretty weak.

In floor storage - We don't have it (can't with Express).  I find there is a lot of storage elsewhere on the boat for everything, but if we had waterskis I'm sure I would want the center tube storage.

I'd get the heavy rub rail.  Our standard rail is pretty flimsy on our S.

Hope that helps.
 

slyguy

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Jason, I'm so with you about buying your second boat first.  Think we looked at all the dealers near us including Bennington, Premier, Harris Flotebote and Suntracker, Crest, & Larson, Apex, Forest River.  You should be able to save at least 20% off of MSRP.  

Don't be afraid to negotiate with your Benny dealer even if ordering one, though you may get a better deal on a in stock one..  I've negotiated with ours dealer and we're currently under negotiations for a boat we want built.  

Regarding #1, I would talk to your dealer.  

Regarding #2, I don't know, I suppose it depends on how much you like music, you could upgrade these on your own if you don't like them.

Regarding #3, I would add this option

Regarding #4, I would skip that, because your smartphone can tell you how fast you're going if you really need to know.  
 

kaydano

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Another thing to think about -  The front seating on the 24 is quite a bit better than the 22.  You get an extra "chaise" lounger up front and enough room to sit facing forward with your legs up.  Dollar for dollar, I'd probably get the 24 with Express, vs 22 with SPS.  It is a pontoon boat after all, and I'd put more stock in more living space than what may be a barely noticable performance increase.  SPS might even run slower than a fully straked Express.  Something to think about.  Test drive them.

By the way, I always loved the lake Monona and Mendota area.  Spent a couple months there in 10th grade when my brother was going to UW.  He lived right on the bay, and had a wind surfer.  Lots of fun.  Great college town.

Good luck!
 
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SEMPERFI8387

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Looks like a nice setup of options to prevent PADS. As Kaydano stated, I'd think about the 24 if possible. You can never have too much room. Too little motor, you can change that out somewhat economically, too little space, now it's big bucks. Our budget got tossed after a couple builds on line .... Over a 10 year loan, we went from around $150/mo budget, ended up in low 200's but it was well worth it !!!
 
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clrd

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Hi All,

I'm new to boating, but am looking to get into a pontoon for my family of 3.  We're in Madison, WI and would be spending time on Lake Mendota (10k acres).    We'll be doing cruising, some tubing, and maybe eventually some skiing.  The boat will be slipped during the boating season.  

We're way over our self-imposed budget, but have decided we want to buy a boat once.  I've tried to focus this extra money on the must haves.  I know there are many great options we could get, but honestly I'm now nitpicking what I really need, even low-priced "nice to have" items.

Here's our current planned build:

2014 22 SLX

Black with Java, Monochrome Interior Accent, no Exterior Accent, Standard X Logo

150HP Yamaha

SPS Package

Battery - Single Switch

In-Floor Storage

Sea Star Hydraulic Steering

Portable Cup Holders (2)

G-Series Helm Chair Upgrade

Extended Bow

Fish/Depth Finder - Echo 100

GPS Speedometer with Compass

Bluetooth Upgrade

Sony M6 Radio Upgrade

ABS Docking Lights

Heavy Duty Rub Rails

Ski/Tow Bar

Kicker Speaker Upgrade

 

A couple of questions:

 

1) Is the Teak Trapezoid table upgrade not available on the S-Series?  Weird, because the Matte Maple Trapezoid is available.  It lists an "Espresso Teak Table Upgrade" in the builder, but I assume that's only the tear drop with 2 drink holders since it doesn't call out the trapezoid shape?  Although it is $90, not far off from the Matte Maple Trapezoid, so maybe it is the Trapezoid?

 

2) Is the Kicker speaker upgrade worth it?  Are the standard speakers sufficient?

 

3) Are the Heavy Duty Rub Rails worth it?  I assume being a non-boater it will save us some wear and tear.

 

4) GPS Speedometer - Is there any value besides telling people your GPS Speed?  Just curious if being a non-boater I'm missing something?  Is accuracy really necessary for me on an inland lake?

 

Sorry for the questions on such inexpensive items, but trying to make a smart purchase by getting into a Bennington, without going overboard.

 

Thanks in Advance,

Jason
Yes the Teak Table is available and to me it is worth it. It is bigger and looks richer, we love ours.

Kickers are a good choice they do sound better.

HD rub rails, didn't have them on our 13 but did put them on our 14. I think if your docking in a slip it might be a good idea.

GPS speedo did not have on our 13 but did add to our 14, mainly just for checking speed and compass heading it also gives you a volt gauge which does not come on the standard set of gauges.

I would also consider adding the teak steering wheel with tilt. 

The rest looks like good choices to me.
 
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SnakeByte

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Wow, thanks everyone for all the great advice.  I love seeing such an active forum for Bennington, it's great hearing from current owners.

Here's what I walked away with so far...

1) Nix the GPS Speedo - nice savings.

2) Nix the Dock lights...I honestly don't think we'll be out at night much...only here and there.

3) Upgrade to the Kickers

4) I'm still torn on the table, but leaning towards it being is storage more than being used...who knows.

What I found most intriguing is the discussion on the Express Performance Package vs the SPS.

Either I can save $1400 on my 22' SPS build or add $650 to go to a 24' SLX3 build.

In regards to the 24', it looks like I need to go with the SLX3 to get the equivalent layout?  I don't like loosing the extra seating in the standard SLX with the extra gate.  

So is the extra length just going to the aft deck?  It doesn't seem like the seating is any different from a space standpoint.

The front seating on the 24 is quite a bit better than the 22.  You get an extra "chaise" lounger up front and enough room to sit facing forward with your legs up.  Dollar for dollar, I'd probably get the 24 with Express, vs 22 with SPS.  
Hey kaydano - When looking at the builder, I'm having a hard time seeing the additional lounger up front.  Is that the 24 SLX3 you're referring to?

Thanks again everyone!

-Jason
 

Jack M

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Perhaps he meant that is longer so you  could sit with your legs  up on it and not be cramped .

.

If you are getting a  layout that comes with a table get the teak ,it looks so much better than  the white .

That said ,we kept ours under the helm .

This order no table at all .

Spend the $650 ,unless you want to join ,



 
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SnakeByte

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Also, one more question...

Is everyone happy with the Express Performance Package?  With just a 150hp, it feels like the right thing to do for what I need.  Any other major differences between the two packages besides the full toon and the 25" transom?  Looks like it still has the strakes and the underskinning.  Doesn't have the extra fuel tank, but I don't think I really need that anyway.

Thoughts?  Doesn't feel like something I would miss.
 

Jack M

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In December I had originally ordered the Express .

After many sleepless nights ,I changed it to the SPS .

Many others here have said " Buy your last boat first " .

I didn't want to buy a third  in 3 years .
 
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Link

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Concerning the SPS, once again I think it I think you have to look at how SnakeByte is going to use his boat.  If you are going to have a lot of people on your boat this certainly gives you the additional buoyancy that would help.  Will add a little speed but with the 150 not make a huge difference. 

Not just Bennington but for all manufacturers there is a definite move to the triton especially those with performance packages such as the ESP.  If you are sure that this is your last boat and that you bare immune to PADs then this last item wont factor; for resale value down the road 2 toons will not be worth as much as a triton.  My next boat will only be some sort of triton.  I can't say with absolute certainty but you may very well get out of the cost of the SPS down the road what you put into it 
 

Jack M

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The main reason I switched from the Express to the SPS ,was  the lager fuel tank and with what was optional on the Express vs what was standard on the SPS .

The difference was less than  1K .
 
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BulldogsCadillac

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Personally, I would get the SPS for sure over the Express. For longterm it is the better choice. 22 is lots of room, especially since you said it is 3 of you. Is it nice to have a slightly longer lounger on starboard side, sure, but there is still lots of room. The in floor storage is a HUGE sell point for me, I shove everything in there. Means I have lots of room under the seats to fit everything. For me, I have yet to use my table, on ANY of my boats, same goes with the cup holders. Now keep in mind I have an R and it has them built into the armrests. Kicker speakers, sure, I love tunes and the base ones were not that great, especially from a looks stand point. You've mentioned numerous times that you are a new boater, for this reason I would rethink your gps/fish finder since it tells you depth and that is a HUGE thing to know and can save you a lot of money in bent props. Just my opinion. 
 

kaydano

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Wow, thanks everyone for all the great advice.  I love seeing such an active forum for Bennington, it's great hearing from current owners.

Here's what I walked away with so far...

1) Nix the GPS Speedo - nice savings.

2) Nix the Dock lights...I honestly don't think we'll be out at night much...only here and there.

3) Upgrade to the Kickers

4) I'm still torn on the table, but leaning towards it being is storage more than being used...who knows.

What I found most intriguing is the discussion on the Express Performance Package vs the SPS.

Either I can save $1400 on my 22' SPS build or add $650 to go to a 24' SLX3 build.

In regards to the 24', it looks like I need to go with the SLX3 to get the equivalent layout?  I don't like loosing the extra seating in the standard SLX with the extra gate.  

So is the extra length just going to the aft deck?  It doesn't seem like the seating is any different from a space standpoint.

Hey kaydano - When looking at the builder, I'm having a hard time seeing the additional lounger up front.  Is that the 24 SLX3 you're referring to?

Thanks again everyone!

-Jason
On the SSL, the bench couch on the port side of the 22 does not have an "end" to it.  It's just a plain bench seat.  You can't face forward and lean back facing forward like you would on a chaise.  On the 24, the 2 extra feet are used up front.  Not only are both couches longer, but the port couch has an "end" on it so you can face front and lean back.  The 24SSL just came out when we bought ours, and I was impressed with how Bennington used those 2 extra feet.  So was my dealer.  He ordered another.

I would have to look at the 24 SLX3 to be sure.

Also, the SPS has foils on it to help bank in turns.  These are different than the strakes added to the Express, and in my opinion, the SPS would run slower in a straight line.  Again, I don't know that for sure, just guessing based on comments I've read about the ESP.  You are trading top end speed for tighter turn radius.  It would surely be more noticable if you went with the 200 HP, but you stated you wanted to trim costs and were already over your self imposed budget.  I can understand that.  I was there myself.  Would I get the SPS if I could do it over?  Quite possibly...  But I would have to be satisfied that was what I wanted before spending the extra money. 

TEST DRIVE THEM IF YOU CAN!
 
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kaydano

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Anyone know if any forum members have the SPS and 150? 

I thought Andy maybe commented that the SPS and 150 still turned pretty flat...  Not 100% sure on that.
 

Jack M

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That is what I have  waiting ,so that does no good 
 

SnakeByte

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You've mentioned numerous times that you are a new boater, for this reason I would rethink your gps/fish finder since it tells you depth and that is a HUGE thing to know and can save you a lot of money in bent props. Just my opinion. 
Hey BulldogsCadillac,

I was referring to the GPS Speedometer as something I could nix, definitely keeping the depth/fish finder.  

Regarding the test drive...unfortunately the lakes are still frozen solid around here.  That being said, I don't know that I would actually be able to tell the difference.

I've also considered with the 22' adding the extended Aft Deck to get a little more deck room...

Too many choices.  I've gone in so many circles.  Maybe just stick with my original plan of 22' with SPS and maybe consider adding the extended Aft Deck for a little more space back there.  Seems like on the 24' SLX3, that's where the extra space is going anyway.

Also, although I do mention my wife and child, our hope is that we have 3-4 more people on many of our outings, we like being with others and hope to share the fun of our boat.

Given that, maybe I'll stick with the SPS.  I'm sure I'll be incredibly happy with the 22', we counted that it would seat 9 very comfortably.
 

ct0218

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I have the SPS and a 150, so far it has 1 hour on the motor so I can't open it up yet. Low 20's in the AM, and snow on Tuesday, and 15* Wednesday...looks like maybe next week I can get mine in the water and get some time on it, then open it up and see how it does.
 
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