Boat Test: 2016 SunChaser Eclipse 8523 LR DH

Boat Tested2016 SunChaser Eclipse 8523 LR DH
Price As TestedNot Available
Category Pontoon Boat
Manufacturer SunChaser
Length23ft 10in / 7.26 m
Beam8ft 6in / 2.59 m
Drive TypeOutboard
Engine MakeYamaha Outboards
Fuel Capacity30
By Steven Bull
SunChaser’s mission statement is “best value on the water” and they put their money behind it. As part of the Smoker Craft family, SunChaser pontoons are covered by a lifetime warranty on the hull and structure and six-year warranty on all components, electronics and upholstery. The best part is that it's transferable to a second owner.

The 8523 is a lounger with a dual-helm layout ��“ hence the LR DH in the model name ��“ and what that means is luxurious comfort. There are dual bucket seats mid-ship for both captain and passenger. There are bench seats flanking both the bow and stern with storage underneath and, something I always appreciate, the cushions are on hinges so accessing the compartments is simple.

In the backrest of the starboard side bow bench and the portside stern bench you’ll find additional storage. On the port side, just in front of the wide side gate, the entire seatback folds up to reveal a canvas privacy chamber.

The 8523 Eclipse is a classic example of why I love pontoons. It really is the best of both worlds. Rated to a maximum of 300-horsepower with a capacity of 13 people, you get power and performance without having to sacrifice any of the fun.

We tested the Eclipse with a 250-hp Yamaha, part of the expanding VMAX SHO lineup. The smooth power translates into impressive acceleration even on a 23-foot pontoon, shooting us to 30 miles per hour in less than seven seconds.

You can plane as slow as 16mph but the mid-to-high 20mph range feels much better. I was impressed at how well this SunChaser banked in the corners and actually executed tight turns, all of which I could do, at speed, with one hand.

The exterior doesn’t have the aggressive styling of some other pontoons, keeping the traditional, but tidy rail-and-gate look. It is, however, tricked out with LED lights underwater and under the rail. One of the notes I scribbled down on test day hold true: “Looks boss.”

Test Boat EngineYamaha 250 VMAX SHO, 4.2 L (254 ci), 250 hp V6 with DOHC fuel injection VCT
ACCELERATION (mph/sec)20 / 4.7; 30 / 6.5
TOP SPEED (rpm/mph)5,100 / 37.6
3,500 / 24.9
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