Manitou says the 21 Aurora LE RF VP is targeted at the boater on a budget who wants the performance benefits of a third pontoon. It’s been updated with a new layout. The RF standards for “rear-facing” aft seats and the VP is for the company’s patented performance pontoon design.
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|0 to 30||5.1 seconds (0 to 20)|
|Load||2 persons; 2/3 fuel; 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||65 deg.; 100 humid; wind: 10-15; seas: <1|
1 x 115 Mercury Pro XS Command Thrust
By Eric Colby
Manitou designed the Aurora LE RF VP to be an entry-level model, but not in the basic pontoon segment. The intention is to provide a buyer who doesn’t have an open checkbook a boat with a performance-oriented triple-pontoon design and a straightforward list of popular standard features like a digital dash and aft-facing rear lounges.
Manitou Aurora LE RF VP Major Features
- Patented VP Performance pontoon design
- Barracuda Nose Cones
- Garmin digital screen at dash
- Heavy-duty ski tow
- Upgraded captain’s chairs
Manitou Aurora LE RF VP Performance
The Numbers. Our test boat was powered by a 115-hp Mercury Pro XS four-stroke outboard. An owner can opt for up to 150 hp. She has an LOA of 22’4 (6.81 m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m) and a hull draft of 18” (45.72 cm). With an empty weight of 2,485 lbs. (1,127.17 kg), 75 percent fuel, and test gear, we had an estimated test weight of 3,484 lbs. (1,580.32 kg).
On our test boat, the 115-hp Mercury Pro XS Command Thrust outboard turned a 15.3” x 14” (38.86 cm x 35.56 cm) Enertia three-blade stainless-steel propeller. Winding up the engine to 6100 rpm, we hit a top speed of 29.1 mph. Best cruise came at 3000 rpm and 11.4 mph. The 2.3 gph fuel burn translated into 5 mpg and a range of 192 miles while holding back 10 percent of the boat’s 43-gallon (162.77 L) fuel capacity.
In acceleration tests, the Aurora LE RF VP hit 20 mph in 5.1 seconds.
Handling. Manitou’s VP bottom design features outer pontoons with 23” (58.42 cm) diameters while the center ‘toon is 27” (68.58 cm). It’s mounted 5 ¼” (13.34 cm) lower and has lifting strakes. In turns, the boat naturally leans into maneuver and carves like a V-bottom runabout. At the front of the pontoons, Manitou’s Barracuda nosecones are reinforced to withstand inevitable bumps with the dock.
New and Improved. For the 2021 model year, Manitou upgraded the seating configuration and upholstery with multiple textures and colors. The rails that support the 26” (66.04 cm) tall exterior fencing have also been updated with a matte black powder-coat finish. The same finish is on the frame for the Bimini top. All three boarding gates are 23” (58.42 cm) wide and Manitou quadrupled the number of beverage holders from two to 10. Finally, our test boat had the optional Silver Luna Woven flooring covering the deck.
The Bow. In the bow, the new layout has the conventional forward-facing lounge extending forward from the helm console. Opposite, the port-side lounge is set up facing aft. There’s storage beneath the bottom cushions, which are hinged on the inboard side. The bow platform is 18” (45.72 cm) deep, which makes it a good area for boarding and transition into the boat via the centrally positioned gate.
The Helm/Amidships. Moving aft, there are two captain’s chairs amidships with space to pass in between. The seats swivel, adjust fore and aft and recline. Outboard of the port seat is a padded bolster with a cupholder. To starboard, the helm console has a 7” (17.78 cm) Garmin digital display in the center with accessory switches that illuminate when activated on each side. The Fusion stereo head is to the left of the upgraded steering wheel that’s part of the Limited package. The throttle/shift control is in the usual position to starboard. There’s storage in the console that’s accessed through a hatch on the inboard side.
The Stern. Aft, the Aurora LE RF VP’s rear-facing lounges are designed chaise-style with angled backrests and they measure 44” (111.76 cm) long. The bottom cushions are hinged and open to access storage to port and the battery and switch to starboard. The headrests also lift up, revealing more storage capacity. The centrally-positioned stern gate opens inboard and the 35” (88.90 cm) swim platforms extend past the motor on each side. A four-step re-boarding ladder with extra-heavy-duty rails is to starboard, while in the center is an equally rugged stainless-steel ski tow bar. The engine mounts on a sealed pod that has an integral bilge pump.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $43,981 as tested with the following items:
- Limited package with Silver Luna flooring, gray mid-back helm and port captain’s chairs, SL 24 logos, table, LED courtesy, navigation and docking lights, steering wheel upgrade and silver two-tone graphics
- Pre-rig for Mercury outboard
- Upgrade to Mercury 115 Pro XS EXLPT
Manitou made a concentrated effort to offer the Aurora LE RF VP as an affordable way for an owner to get the performance benefits of a triple-pontoon. She comes with one floorplan and three color combinations with a couple of upgrade packages. The boat has the features that have proven to be most popular on pontoon boats such as the rear-facing lounges and three boarding gates and the upholstery has an upscale feel and look.