Harris Solstice 250 Review
The Harris Solstice 250 offers versatility and features galore. However, this pontoon boat from Harris Flote can get bogged down with choice and extra costs.
How We Rated the Harris Solstice 250
Our rating breakdown offers an overall score out of 5, with 5 being the best. To get that number, we rated the Harris Solstice out of 10 across 5 different categories
|Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5|| Handling & Performance: 8 |
Design and Features: 9
Value for Money: 7
- 27’11” length
- 25’ pontoon length
- 8’6” beam
- Max 400 HP
- Multiple engine options ( 29 Mercury 4-stroke engine options, in fact)
- Max occupancy of 11-14 people (2576 lbs / 2597 lbs)
- Fuel capacity of 28 gallons/ 37 gallons/ 63 gallons depending on build
- Weight of 2,903 lbs to 4,220 lbs depending on tube length and number
- Fiberglass hull plus aluminum pontoons
The Harris Solstice 250 is a pontoon boat designed for having a good time on the water with a group of people. A good pontoon needs to offer versatility because that’s what most buyers are looking for. It’s not a speed boat, it’s not a fishing boat, it’s not a jon boat for a lazy afternoon floating in the reeds. It’s meant to offer some of everything, kind of like a boating buffet, and Harris has really latched onto that.
Wrapping your head around the options can be daunting and we’ll get more into that later. The real problem is, if this is a family boat for the casual boater, Harris is speaking over your head a lot.
Not everyone understands the subtle differences between options when you have 30 different things available that all basically do the same job. And you shouldn’t need to, either. It’s nice to have options but like a restaurant with a 20 page menu, at some point it gets overwhelming.
When you get to the nuts and bolts, the Harris Solstice performs and performs well. It cruises like a dream, it has plenty of room and it handles better than a lot of other pontoons. It shines most when you’re just looking to make the most of a hot, sunny day on the water by having drinks and lunch with friends and family.
Reasons to Buy
- Some of the best and most diverse options you’ll find for a pontoon boat.
- Great variety of engines means you can more easily tailor your Solstice to what you want, not just what the manufacturer had in mind.
- You never realized how great a flip top helm can be until you see it in action. Easy access to wiring and steering components is a great feature and more pontoon manufacturers should do this.
- Build and stability seem really sold and reliable
Reasons to Shop Around
- As you go through the builds, the price can get up remarkably high with some features added on.
- So many options for so many features can make settling on a specific build frustrating and confusing.
- While you can obviously use this as a fishing pontoon, it seems odd that there are so few fishing-specific options available.
- A problem that plagues a lot of pontoons is anchor storage and here you’ll need to dedicate one of the general storage areas as an anchor locker since there’s no dedicated anchor storage on board
Breakdown by Category
At 28 feet with room for up to 14 people,the Harris Solstice works as a family fishing or cruising boat, as well as a party boat. Options and features galore mean you can come up with lots of custom designs to meet your individual wants and needs. Your base model is pretty bare bones but the add-ons can really add up.
Handling & Performance
Go for a tritoon option and a higher horsepower engine and you’ll really be able to make the most of that tow bar in back and cruising around with a crowd of friends and family on board. Anything over 200 hp requires a three tube chassis and Harris has numerous options that fit in this range.
Three tubes gives you greatly improved handling and a boat that rides well even at speed. It’s still a pontoon, though, and you don’t want to be trying to break speed records in chop anytime soon. That said, the extra tube really helps you track through turns and handle rough waters more easily.
At cruising speed this thing is like butter. So smooth and barely any noise, you’ll really enjoy it for a relaxing day on the water. If you want to push for speed, and you have an engine that can handle it, you can reasonably expect to get the Solstice 250 cutting a good swath. Seasoned water skiers won’t turn to this as a go-to option but if you have kids who want to try some tow sports, she can handle it at speeds that will give them a thrill but won’t make grandma and grandpa panic. In my test we got it up to 43 mph with a Mercury 350L Verado.
The feel of the upholstery, the generous size of the back deck, and the overall comfort and flow of the entire boat are all big selling points. The more you’re willing to spend, the more luxury you can get. Like any good pontoon boat, the feel of this on the water, even at speed, is smooth and even.
I didn’t get to try a model that was decked out to the gills so a lot of the extras weren’t available, but that shouldn’t (and didn’t) matter. The seating is plentiful and feels better than a lot of boats I’ve been on. That’s not a knock on other vessels, either. It just means Harris put in the work here. The upholstery is plush and you feel like you could lay back and take a nap any time here.
When you get up to speed she gives a solid and comfortable ride. You feel secure and steady and that’s relaxing, even when you get some wind whipping in your hair. Aft deck space is increased over older models with the playpen moved forward a few inches.
The many upgrades and options can have an effect on performance and handling for your Solstice 250. Harris has upgrades for the chassis and tubes depending on what you’re looking for that can make the design more solid and durable. Tubes can be boosted from 25 inch diameter to 27 inch. Nose con reinforcements, skin kits and so many other options can boost safety and make the boat tougher and more rugged out on the water.
Again, this is all how you play with your options but even the base model is built tough. Harris doesn’t skimp on quality and this is a boat that can handle its time on the water. Expect it to last for many seasons with proper maintenance and care.
Structural components on deck are covered by a lifetime warranty which should give some indication of the faith Harris has in their construction.
Design and Features
No shortage of fun features on the Solstice 250. If anything, this becomes one of the boat’s bigger drawbacks because there’s just so many choices. Check out some of the highlights:
Harris currently offers two models for their Solstice 250, the base model and the DC or dual-console. Nearly every feature offered can be optional to the base model so the following features comprise many of the stand out options that Harris has available.
- 6 different floor plans
- Electric bimini top
- Upgradeable tube options
- Reinforced nose cones
- Lifting strakes
- Fish/Depth finder
- Drink holder/seat base/pontoon lighting package
- Stitched cushion accents
- CZONE digital switching
- Twin lounges
- USB and cupholders throughout
- Multi-position backrest
- Electronic retractable ladder
- Hinged helm console for easy access
- Oversized swim platform
- Six-speaker audio system
- Soft-sided cooler
- Fire extinguisher
- Pop-up change room
- Tow bar
Options are one of the main strengths of the Harris Solstice. It even blows the competition out of the water with color options, with 10 available. There are few parts of this boat that can’t be tweaked or customized and it would be nearly impossible to list every single option in a single review. You can decide for yourself if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
There’s just so many optional features and if you’re not a boating expert already, you just won’t have any idea what half of the options even are. You’ll be Googling them separately to find out if they’ll be good for you or not. If you know there are 29 different engine options, could you say for sure which one you’d want off the top of your head when the choices are basically separated by horsepower and nothing else? If there are 5 engines that are each 200 hp, how do you know which is the best with no further info on hand? It’s a little daunting for sure and given that this seems to be marketed as a casual, family boat, it’s a bit much.
That aside, when you do get a handle on the options, many owners have expressed their pleasure at being able to really fine tune a model that meets their needs. Harris allows you to really make your own model rather than a predetermined design, and that appeals to a lot of the boaters we heard from
Value for Money
Starting at just under $75,000, this is by no means an economy model pontoon boat, but Harris is known as a higher quality manufacturer so that’s no surprise. Compared to similar models it’s actually fairly well-priced and offers decent value overall, if you can nail down your specific build to what you want.
Head to the Harris website and check out the options to build your own Solstice 250 and you’ll be blown away by the choices. While many pontoons have a handful of engine options based on the size of the boat itself, Harris gives you 29 different Mercury engines to choose from ranging from the Mercury 9.9 ELPT Command Thrust FourStroke which is a relatively cheap $4,000 all the way to the impressive Mercury 400R Verado White which will set you back over $62,000 all by itself.
If you know what options you want and plan them well, then you can make the most out of what Harris has to offer. You can get good value for money, just don’t get carried away with some features that may be unnecessary.
Should You Buy the Harris Solstice 250?
If you have a large crew of family, friends or both who love spending time on the water, you have to give the Harris Solstice 250 a serious look. It has space and comfort to spare and the double edged sword of nearly endless options is sure to have the perfect boat to meet your needs buried in it somewhere.
Compared to other boats of similar quality the price is reasonable and you will get good value for your money. Harris makes a quality vessel and I don’t think you’d regret investing in it.
Not to beat a dead horse, but I need to stress that you make sure you understand all the options you can get, what they do, and whether you really need them or not before finalizing anything. Do that and I believe that if you spend a good deal of time on the water with larger groups, the Harris Solstice 250 is a smart buy.
Categories: Pontoon Boats