Manitou Explore
24 Navigator
Modern-looking design is still turning heads
By Roy Sparks
Manitou Explore 24 Navigator
Modern-looking design is still turning heads
By Roy Sparks
When first released for model year 2023, the sleek, modern, and revolutionary Explore from Manitou caught a few showgoers by surprise at the early boat shows. Pontoon enthusiasts weren’t expecting such a dramatic evolution from traditional-looking pontoons that typically have exterior rails with thin sheets of aluminum behind them. Instead attendees discovered a beautiful exterior with automotive-inspired styling and contoured aluminum panels, an exclusive to Manitou. Taking fit-and-finish to a whole new level, the exterior was designed to stand out on the water, but was drawing people in at the boat shows as well.

Even the Sport Bimini (that is rated for up to 55 mph so you can keep it open while underway) incorporates a unique style line that matches up perfectly with the color stripe on the exterior wall for a continuous look. Every Explore model comes standard with a gas-assisted, easy-to-use Sport Bimini that offers 12 feet of coverage.

Fast forward a year and Manitou’s new and distinctive look is no longer a secret, yet is still getting a lot of positive attention. After collecting a couple of NMMA Innovation Awards for the overall Manitou design and its Rotax engine, you could say this Michigan-based manufacturer has been anything but quiet.

Mercury boat engine
Mercury boat engine
The new-look Manitou is available with standard outboard power or with its Rotax S engine. Last fall our crew got a chance to run the Explore 24 Navigator, powered by a Mercury 250 hp outboard. At full throttle we just missed the 50 mph mark after a blistering zero-to-20 mph time of less than four seconds.

From the deck up there is a whole new feel to this pontoon, but below is the same performance hull Manitou perfected years ago. It allows the boat to dive into some sharp turns, making it extremely fun to drive.

By going with the traditional outboard you give up the benefits of the massive 40-square-foot MAX deck that is only available on the single and twin Rotax S applications, but there is still plenty of deck space in the stern on this version before boarding the boat through the rear. On the back deck is a four-step stainless steel boarding ladder along with a matching stainless ski/tow bar.

Welcome Aboard
The interior is all about versatility and the layout has a variety of options to exceed the 13-person capacity rating. Starting in the bow there are two chaise lounges with switchback seating for the first mate, plus two more multi-position individual lounges in the stern. Speaking of versatility, the Trifold bench is one of our favorites. The 3-in-1 functionality provides a seamless transition between a bench, table and open space, so you can entertain with ease or just enjoy more leg room whenever you want.
man driving white boat
boat interior
table and chairs on a boat
closed storage compartment on a boat
At The Helm
For the captain, the helm has been redesigned with a new dashboard layout that includes a 9-inch Garmin touchscreen with a row of lighted push buttons below. Directly across on the other side of the steering wheel is a wireless charger pod for your phone, with access to the four-speaker Fusion Audio sound system. Props to Manitou for incorporating the speakers into the seat backs so they’re elevated to improve the sound quality.

For the co-captain is an extremely large glove box that matches the same angle and look of the helm console for a dual look. Other key features include an in-tube center storage locker, an extra battery and smart switch, and a total of five USB ports found throughout the interior along with more than a dozen recessed cupholders.

Final Thoughts
The painted fiberglass walls on Manitou’s high-end models have become a signature look for the manufacturer. Phrases such as “industry-disrupting” were being tossed around when first released and that buzz of excitement has carried over into model year 2024. At first glance you can appreciate the updated and timeless modern look, but just wait until you get it on the water.
Specifications Table
Specifications Table
For More Information
Manitou Pontoon Boats
Mercury Marine