Small - Large Print E-Mail Comment

Bennington 2575 QCW - 2014

Published By: Jonathan Lee

By Jonathan Lee

Standing on a dock on an early summer morning on Peninsula Lake, just east of Huntsville, Ontario, a group of marine journalists stood in front of an assortment of nine boats, each at our disposal for an on-water test.

Although, no two boats fell into the same boat class, one in particular immediately made my mental ‘must-drive’ list. It wasn’t the fastest model tied to the dock but it fell into a category of boating that has seen such surprisingly consistent growth over the past few years that saying so has become somewhat of a cliché. In anticipation of that ongoing growth, Bennington built approximately 9,600 pontoon boats in North America in 2013, up from just over 8,400 in 2012.

The Bennington 2575 QCW that caught my interest was powered by an outboard engine, which is still the most common way dealers sell these boats compared to I/O configurations. Regardless of how the boat’s powered, the first impression evoked by Bennington’s Q Series quickly conveys the company’s attention to detail and commitment to quality. Perhaps it has something to do with the Elkhart, Indiana-based company itself. After all, Bennington is quite proud of the fact that it’s owned by 23 people who go to work at its facility each day and stand behind the product that they design, build and market.

As the perception of pontoons has changed in recent years, the manufactures that build them have busied themselves with redesigning their look, layout and even how they perform. The 2575 QCW truly embodies those efforts.

From the dock, the first thing you notice about the boat is its sleek sloping fibreglass compound radius bow. Instead of the more common flat front aluminum railing found on many pontoons, the Bennington Q-Series’ sculpted bow really makes the boat stand out from other models. Our test boat featured an all-Bronze side paneling but was also available in several other colours with the typical emotive names, including Smokey Granite, Regatta Blue, Midnight Black, Matador Red and Champagne. The side railing also featured horizontal running bars that run most of the length of the boat and then gradually arch to the deck near the stern. The siding area, between the two bottom-most horizontal running bars, can optionally be accented by a second colour.

Stepping on board, you’re greeted by soft-touch pillow-top upholstery that comes standard on Bennington’s Q-Series but is an optional upgrade on the company’s next series down, the R Series. The beautiful vinyl upholstered interior has the look of sewnon, pinched-leather cushions you’d expect to find on a household sofa or loveseat. The Diamond Fawn colour upholstery cushions on our test model were augmented by a tasteful spotted Ostrich accents on the backrests.

One advantage offered by pontoons is having floorplan options. Our test model featured Bennington’s most popular layout, the RCW (or Rear Centre Walkthrough). The boat features a pair of stern-facing recliners with rimmed stainless steel rails for added security. Passengers can walk between the two recliners without disturbing their sun worshipping occupants to access the swim platform for a quick refreshing dip.

In the bow, another pair of loungers are found, each equipped with a fold-down armrest. Our test boat was equipped with an optional removable bow gate seat that really turns the area into the center of social activity aboard the boat.

Opposite of the helm is another lounger accompanied by a standard removable trapezoid table with three recessed cup holders.

Sitting at the helm, visibility was outstanding thanks to the optional elevated helm, which boosts the console a few inches higher, greatly improving the driver’s vantage point. The extra-wide command chair was equipped with lifting armrests and is adjustable, sliding forward and back as well as pivoting.

Looking at the console, Bennington’s luxurious appointments remain evident. A standard 15-inch custom wheel features a polished wood-grain finish with fabric wrapped grips meeting its three stainless spokes. Three central chrome-rimmed gauges including tachometer, speedometer and a third containing a volt meter, trim level and fuel level are embedded in a central glossy wood-grain finish panel just behind the wheel. Flanking that panel are a Sony stereo remote and 12V outlet to the left and optional Garmin GPS and MP3 input to the right. Running along the bottom of the driver’s console on each side of the wheel are a series of illuminated console rocker switches, also placed on wood-grain finish panels. These controls include the boat’s horn, various internal and external lights, and center bilge.

A Sony M6 CD stereo comes standard, but I’d recommend opting for the Bluetooth upgrade version that replaces the changer.

Throughout the cockpit and bow area was standard sand palm carpet that can be upgraded to snap-in carpeting, offering a handy cleaning option for people boating in areas where pine needles and sand find their way into the boat.

At the stern near the foot of the loungers, our test model featured a classic faux teak aft deck finish with black accents (also available with ivory accents). This can also be changed to a Seagrass woven mat over the standard vinyl floor. The starboard stern lounger is optionally available with a remote stereo control, found just below the lounger’s cup holder. Contained within this lounger is a pop-up privacy enclosure, perfect for changing into swimwear or concealing a portable toilet.

In the center of that deck was an optional 52-inch, telescoping stainless steel ski pylon. Whereas some pylons will only allow you to pull skiers, the 2575 QCW’s robust pole is inserted into a reinforced metal bracket built into the transom, allowing it to pull an inflatable tube with a full complement of passengers. While some disclaimers on ski tow bars read “not for tubing,” the 2575’s ski tow bar reads: “not for parasailing or towing other watercraft,” – point made.

An attractive optional touch found our test model was the ice blue LED lighting on the Bimini top, side illumination cup holders and underwater lights. While you can’t appreciate these features as much during the daytime, if you’re tied up on the dock or on the water in the evening, it really makes the craft stand out.

The 2575 QCW really shines is when its equipped with Bennington’s Elliptical Sport Package (ESP) featuring a 32-inch oblong center tube with lifting strakes, 25-inch outer tubes with performance foils, Sea Star hydraulic steering, an under deck wave tamer shield (an aluminum sheet that covers the length of the bottom of the boat) and fuel tank size upgrade (the center log contains the larger fuel tank). This package boosts the standard max power limitations on the boat from 150hp up to 350hp.

Our ESP equipped model was powered by Yamaha’s newest 200hp outboard engine the F200 In-Line Four four-stroke outboard (released in early 2013), paired with a 13-inch Reliant prop. This versatile lightweight engine tips the scales only at 487 pounds. The 2.8L, 16-valve DOHC outboard was an outstanding match for our review boat. Equipped with a Variable Camshaft Timing system, the F200 had the 2575 QCW almost immediately onto plane and achieved a top speed of approximately 35mph in a light chop with two passengers and a full tank of fuel. Built for efficiency, the engine consumes 89 octane fuel rather than exclusively premium, making your weekends on the water more affordable by reducing your fuel bill. At idle, the outboard was so quiet it was difficult to tell if it was actually on.

Driving the 2575 QCW was surprising. I’ve driven my share of pontoons and rarely do you expect one to lean into a tight turn. Usually, it’s the opposite, with the pontoon typically remaining flat in the turn with the force being pushed to the tube opposite of the turning direction. The QCW can attribute how it handles to its lifting strakes and performance foils. Not only do they get the boat on plane quickly, the oblong elliptical center log with its own strakes allows the boat to roll enough to lean into turns. “I’ll take the 2575 QCW out with customers and on other typical three-tube pontoons,” says Chris Ivanov, Operations Manager with Mobile Marine in Huntsville, Ontario. “That handling really influences their decision on the boat.”

Alternatively, for a little more performance over the base package, boaters can also opt for Bennington’s more affordable SPS (Sports Performance System) package, allowing owners to power the boat with 90 to 150hp engines. This still provides three full-length 25-inch tubes, an extra 32-gallons of fuel capacity, lifting strakes on the center pontoon, performance foils on the inside of the out tubes, round tube keels and an under-deck wave shield. However, hydraulic steering is a separate upgrade (recommended for outboards 115hp and up).

While the more recent trend seems to be higher horsepower engines being paired with three-tube models, speed and handling really aren’t the driving reasons boaters purchase pontoons. More often, it’s the balance of capacity, versatility and luxury – something the 2575 QCW has in spades even in its base configuration.

Built to last, the boat features 1/4-inch high aluminum cross members that extend all the way to the edge of the deck. The pontoon’s fencing, furniture and console are all bolted to those cross members rather than just the deck alone. Bennington’s bolted deck construction utilizes fanged elevator bolts with nylon insert locking nuts instead of screws. To reduce vibration, an insulated resilient strip is applied between all panels and rails as well as between cross members and decking. For longevity and reliability, under deck wiring is encased in conduit. Adding to the look and durability, the 2575’s rub rail, cleats and corner castings are all stainless steel.

The boat is also covered by a seven-year, stem to stern warranty with lifetime coverage on the structure. That includes any issues with the upholstery, canvas, or even the stereo; Bennington says it handles any of defects with no questions asked.

Bennington has established a reputation for quality to the point that one of a few brands used as measuring stick for pontoons. Discerning Canadian boaters will quickly recognize 2575 QCW’s potential to entertain guests. While it certainly falls into the luxury-level pontoon category, owners can rest assured they’re receiving their dollar’s worth of quality construction, features and elegance – allowing for the best possible experiences on the water.

LOA: 27’ 6”
Beam: 8’ 6”
Pontoon Length: 25’ 6”
Dry Weight: 2,952 lbs. (3,298 lbs. w/ESP pkg.)
Tubes: 25”
Fuel capacity: 87.8L/23.2 gal. US
(optional 189.6L/50.1 gal.)
Passenger capacity: 12 (15 w/ESP pkg.)
Power (as tested): Yamaha F200 In-Line 4
Power (max): 350hp (w/ESP pkg.)
Retail price (base): $49,000 w/50hp engine
Retail price (as reviewed): $77,572 w/ESP pkg.

Quoted setup may not be exactly as depicted in photos. Prices
are subject to currency fluctuations and do not include freight,
PDI or additional optional equipment.

Bennington Marine
2805 Decio Dr.
Elkhart, IN
(574) 264-6336