Outboard innovations for this year appear to be minimal. An overall trend appears to be the continuation of improving four-stroke technology with emphasis on lighter, more powerful power plants. While five of the big six outboard manufacturers have embraced four-stroke technology (Mercury is using both), Evinrude continues to utilize just two-stroke, direct injection engineering to meet not only American government emissions control standards but global emissions standards.
Here’s what you can expect to see on the back of the rigs at the boat shows this season and at a dealer near you.
This Canada-based BRP, Inc. outboard manufacturer continues to offer an all direct injection line-up of outboards that meets or exceeds all EPA emissions requirements.
Evinrude has two lines of direct injection outboards – the E-TEC and the E-Tec Gen 2 models. The E-Tec models are available from 15 to 150 hop. The E-Tec Gen 2 models range from 150 to 300 hp and include the HO line that area bass boat owners purchase. The Gen 2 HO models are the ones you see on the back of the tournament grade bass boats in a variety of custom colors (over 200 combinations and now custom paint) that look like something out of Star Wars.
The Starboard-Starboard is a new exhaust architecture on Evinrude E-TEC G2 engines 200 H.O. and above. By having the exhaust ports on both banks, the rotating crankshaft naturally pushes the pistons to the starboard side. This avoids where the pistons exert their greatest pressure on the cylinder wall. This revolutionary design makes the engine even more reliable and more durable. The Gen 2 also has an on-engine oil tank with an easy fill funnel and dash oil level gauge system. The Evinrude Gen 2 Dual-Axis rigging system is an exclusive that routes all engine and steering connections through a single tube. Evinrude offers a five-year warranty on the Gen 2 outboards.
The 200, 225 and 250 hp Gen 2 HO Evinrudes displace 3.4L and weigh in around 537 pounds (one of the lightest, most powerful engines, second to Mercury’s 505-lb Pro XS 250.).
Honda’s flagship outboard is the 250 VTEC. This is a four-stroke, 60-degree V6 with a single overhead cam and 24 valves (not unlike the car engines from Honda). The VTEC stands for variable valve timing and lift electronic control. Honda claims VTEC is the “replacement for displacement,” offering outstanding performance without the inferior low rpm fuel efficiency of larger displacement competitors. VTEC is also said to offer a broader, flatter torque curve plus smooth power delivery throughout the engine’s operating range.
The VTEC systems varies the lift and duration of the intake valves to deliver optimal performance at both low and high rpm, resulting in peak performance at all speeds using two cam lobe profiles to operate the intake valves.
Low-lift, short duration cam lobes provide strong torque at low rpm. At higher rpm, a synchronizing piston engages the third rocker arm on a high-lift cam. All three rocker arms are locked together. The intake valves are open for a longer period of time to produce more power.
The Honda 250 VTEC weighs in from 600-622 pounds depending on the version and comes standard with a five-year, non-declining warranty.
The 2018 line of high performance Mercury Verado outboards are inline six cylinders that produce up to 300 hp. The increasing popularity (and EPA mandated) of clean burning four-stroke outboards continues to push for improvements in the brand. The Mercury Verado 250 Pro accompanies 300 and 200 hp models. The 250 displaces 2.6 liter and is based on an inline six cylinder motor that is super-charged with air cooling and electronic boost fuel pressure control. The engine weighs 635 lbs, still a bit heavy for a bass boat, and that is why Mercury’s two-stroke direct injection PRO XS models remain a top choice for area high performance bass boat buyers.
Hole shot performance in the new Verado is said to be excellent due to the super-charged punch. Mid-range punch is notable and top end is much better than with regular four-stroke outboards.
Also new from Mercury are 175 and 200 inline, four-cylinder Verados. These 510-pound outboards are aimed at boats that need a lighter yet super efficient powerplant. Each displaces 1.7 liters.
Suzuki likes to say their 250SS started it all. This was the first V6 4-stroke outboard that was specifically built to power tournament bass boats, larger flats boats, performance pontoon boats and even serious ski boats (blah!). The DF250SS is a big block “Hot Rod” that will put an ear-to-ear grin on the face of any boater with a need for speed and power. This motor is now available in Shadow Black Metallic, and for the “Special Ops Guys”, you can opt for the Matte Black finish.
The DF250SS is built on a 55-degree, V6 that displaces 245.6 cc using a double overhead cam, 24-valve system. The motor weighs 578 pounds.
The Suzuki DF200A is an inline, four-stroke outboard packed with technology. This engine has large displacement (175.9 cc), lots of torque and plenty of power weighing 529 pounds.
Tohatsu is Japan’s oldest outboard manufacturer, and has been producing high quality, durable outboard motors since 1956. Tohatsu outboards were originally developed for commercial Japanese fishermen who needed a motor that could run for days on end, no matter what the weather.
The company’s five-year warranty shows their commitment to providing not only a great value, but a dependable motor with unmatched performance. The Tohatsu warranty covers the entire line of two-stroke (TLDI® Series) and four-stroke outboard engines.
The BFT 250 is the big boy of the line-up. This motor is built on a high displacement 3.5L 60-degree, V6 four-stroke engine that weighs 613 pounds.
Tohatsu also offers the TDLI Series outboards known for compact size, low emissions and high fuel economy. Area anglers might want to check out the 115 and 90 hp offerings if they are repowering. These are two-stroke, direct injection outboards with a 32-bit engine control unit that gives precise fuel injection instructions in tune with operating conditions detected by multiple sensors.
Big Blue has made major inroads over the years in the saltwater marketplace and more recently in the freshwater outboard market.
The all new Yamaha 90 hp looks to be a strong competitor for your medium range boat repower money. The inline four cylinder, four-stroke motor displaces 1,832 cc and weighs 353 pounds. Yamaha also addressed the alternator issue and their 90’s now come with a 35-amp alternator.
Yamaha’s other inline four, stroke outboards include 200, 175 and 150 hp models – all built around a 16-valve double overhead cam design with four valves per cylinder (32 total). These engines are approximately 30 pounds lighter than 2.7 liter displacement competitive products.
Higher performance options you’ll find on SKEETER bass boats and other high performance rigs in the region include the SHO VMAX versions of the in-lines as well as the Yamaha SHO VMAX V6 4.2L outboards.