By James Corns
Bennington 2575 RFI: Performance Test
Bennington 2575 RFI: The most opulent pontoon of them all.
The Bennington 2575 RFI is, without a doubt, one of the most luxurious pontoon boats available for 2004. We had the pleasure of testing the boat on a chilly day in Indiana, on Lake Wawasee, and we felt very pampered aboard the 25-footer.
The team at Bennington told us they don’t want their models to be the most expensive or the cheapest out there: They want them to offer the most value for the money. By that gauge, we’d consider the 2575 RFI a complete success.
The 25-foot pontoon boat has a base price of just $29,430 — an amount you can pay for a bowrider almost half that size — and the amount of space you get on the 2575 RFI is staggering. The boat’s seating alone seems worth the cost.
In fact, we might as well start counting down the seating areas, because there are eight of them. We’re not talking about eight seats; we’re talking eight entire seating spaces, including full-size lounges in some instances. Altogether, the 2575 RFI can carry up to 17 people, according to the NMMA, but we’d recommend a number closer to 14 (which is still a heck of a lot).
It all starts with two reclining seats up at the bow. There’s a chair at each corner, and both of them have self-leveling arms. These two chairs are of a comfort level usually reserved only for the captain’s chair, and we spent plenty of time just lying back in these chairs and taking in the day.
Moving astern, there are two small settees that run along the sides, facing inward. These settees are about the size of loveseats, with room for two people to sit comfortably on each one.
The helm console is behind the starboard settee and a large L-shaped settee is behind the port settee. A pedestal table with two built-in cupholders serves the settee, which has a waste container built into its bottom. Moreover, all of the settees have storage space hidden underneath their seat cushions.
The 2575 RFI’s helm is the big four-carat diamond that shines the brightest of all the boat’s many “jewels.” In fact, it’s the most elegant helm console we can ever recall seeing on a pontoon boat. Gold-colored bezels accent the cream-colored gauges, which are all set against a beautiful faux burlwood. The burlwood trim is shaped like a crescent, with a smaller, glittery gold crescent located below it. There’s a cool mini-storage box located under the controls.
In addition to the standard instrumentation, Bennington has included a Sony CD player with AM/FM stereo, four speakers and a concealed antenna — and XM radio is available as an option. If you thought the two chairs up front were plush, wait until you see the deluxe captain’s seat, which has cupholders built into the armrests.
The sunpad that runs along the back side of the L-shaped settee is sure to be popular with the sunbathers in your family, and as if that weren’t enough, the sunpad flips up to become a privacy enclosure. The boat’s 9-foot Bimini top can rest atop the sunpad when neither is in use, and the rails of the Bimini match the bars on the gates, for an integrated look.
Finally, we come to the boat’s stern and — surprise, surprise — more seating. Bennington has placed two deluxe bass seats at the very back of the boat, one on each corner. There’s also a stern entry with a built-in re-boarding ladder, plus an entrance at the bow and a third entrance at the center of the boat’s port side. The boat’s battery is also located in this area, which is fine, but we weren’t crazy about the fact that it is completely uncovered and, therefore, exposed to the elements.
If you plan to use the 2575 RFI as your own private fishing platform, you’re already four steps ahead with the fore and aft fishing chairs, and Bennington has been kind enough to include several fishing amenities on its list of available options. Anglers can add a stern seat livewell ($146), a six-pole rod holder ($73) and a sink upgrade ($233). A ski pylon ($366) and a playpen cover ($733) are also available.
More Cushion, More Pushin’
If you’ve never been to Lake Wawasee before, and 99.999 percent of the American public hasn’t, the waters there can get considerably choppy for a lake so small — but the waters were relatively flat on the day we tested the 2575 RFI. The boat did very well in the light chop, providing a comfortable, solid ride.
Our test boat was powered by a Mercury 115 EFI four-stroke outboard, which provided plenty of power. The maximum horsepower available on the 2575 RFI is 135, so our test engine was in the upper end of the power packages. If you’re planning to add the ski pylon and use the boat for skiing or wakeboarding, you might consider getting a larger engine, but the 115 hp outboard we had that day was more than enough power for pushing around the four adults and 3/4 of a tank of fuel we had on board.
The 2575 RFI turns very well for a pontoon boat. On the way to plane, the bow comes up a reasonable amount and then levels off without difficulty. We liked a cruising speed of around 14 mph with the boat; however, the ride is also comfortable at the top speed of 24.1 mph (at 6,000 rpm).
The 115 EFI was very quiet, starting at 70 dB at 600 rpm, running up to 96 dB at 5,000 rpm and falling back down to 90 dB at wide-open throttle. The boat’s solid construction was evident in not only the ride, but also in such features as the stainless steel corner castings and the heavy-duty rubrail.
Boaters with a big family and a gang of friends will be drawn to the Bennington 2575 RFI’s spacious deck area and generous seating. Those who appreciate the finer things in life will enjoy all the elegant touches located throughout the boat — especially the top-notch helm. Spendthrifts who want a bargain will swoon at the 2575 RFI’s price. No matter what you like about the 2575 RFI, it’s nice to know that there’s plenty of it to go around.
Bennington 2575 RFI Specifications
|Number of tubes||2|
|Fuel capacity||26 gallons|
|Maximum power||135 hp|
|Price as tested||$32,207|
Heavy-duty rubrail, 28-ounce Infinity carpet, 26-gallon fuel tank w/remote fill, Bimini top w/quick release, courtesy lights (2), privacy enclosure, pontoon skirting, portable cup holders (2), Sony CD player (w/AM/FM stereo, four speakers and concealed antenna), stern entry w/built-in ladder, docking lights.
Stern seat livewell ($146), six-pole rod holder ($73), sink upgrade ($233), ski pylon ($366), playpen cover ($733), XM radio ($600), Mercury pre-rig ($626).
For More Information
52791 County Road 113
Elkhart, IN 46514