Outboards Are King

And how manufacturers are adapting

Published in the April 2018 Issue October 2019 Feature Brady L. Kay

The latest surge of outboard power is changing the look of the boating industry. Today’s beautiful yachts that have primarily included sterndrives are now making way for outboard versions, thanks to the “magnificent seven” outboard manufacturers dominating the boating industry, and that of course includes the Great Lakes.

“We’ve seen the writing on the wall and while our bread and butter remains the smaller boats with sterndrives, in the last three years Cobalt has started offering outboard versions,” says Cobalt rep Alex Barry. “These latest outboards have opened up the market and we currently offer 23- and 25-foot, single outboard models with a twin version 30-footer.”

Regal Boats President Duane Kuck shared a similar thought. “In certain markets outboard power is preferred and that’s why we developed the all-new 38 XO that is designed for triple 300hp outboards. It has all the great features of a sterndrive boat but offered with outboard power in a boat specifically built for outboards. We call it the power of choice.”

Noticeably quieter while opening up layout space for storage and extra seating are just two advantages, but the biggest comes from the new outboards themselves that are reaching new heights of efficiency every day.

Cox Diesel

At the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show last November, Cox Powertrain introduced a completely new line of high-powered, high performance and highly durable diesel outboard engines that have been built from the ground up specifically for marine use.

Cox’s first ground-breaking diesel outboard engine, the CXO300, is based on a four-stroke, V8 architecture. It delivers a combination of high power, high torque and single fuel, enabling it to offer the same performance and efficiency as an inboard but with the convenience and flexibility of an outboard.

Weighing 826 pounds, it offers at least a 25 percent better range compared to a gasoline outboard and is designed to last up to three times longer. Users could save over the lifespan of the outboard due to its long life, fuel efficiency, long service intervals and reduced haul-out costs. (www.coxmarine.com)



While offering a wide range of outboard power, it’s the Evinrude 300 E-TEC G2 V6 that makes the most sense for larger Great Lakes boats. While other outboard manufacturers moved away from two-stroke technology, Evinrude was determined to perfect it. Similar to its 250, 225 and 200hp offerings, the 300 E-TEC G2 is a direct-fuel-injected two-stroke powerplant with loads of electronic and consumer features that make it an acceleration beast, yet with refined manners and all sorts of the latest digital technology. Introduced in 2014, the unique-looking G2 took awhile to warm up to, but Evinrude owners were instantly pleased with the performance.

The 300 is available in three shaft lengths with a published weight of 539 pounds, which makes it one of the lighter 300hp outboards on the market. Since BRP took over in 2000, Evinrude has come a long way and its two-stroke G2 rivals its four-stroke competition for quietness, top speed and emissions, while providing amazing torque. (www.evinrude.com)


Honda Marine

Honda’s flagship model is its 250hp 3.6-liter EFI four-stroke V6 that has proven to be a durable and dependable engine. Available in 20-, 25- and XXL 30-inch shaft lengths for taller transoms, the 250 makes a lot of sense for a twin setup. The 250 weighs in at 613 pounds, which is above average for an engine of this size. Rated to turn a maximum of 6,300 rpm, the Honda has a 90 amp alternator to charge the boat’s batteries. A new feature is AMP+, which senses electrical loads and automatically increases idle speed minutely (about 100 rpm) to increase charging output by another 9 amps. The Honda “BLAST” system, which stands for “Boosted Low Speed Torque,” rapidly advances ignition timing while enriching the fuel mixture electronically for quicker holeshots and more low-end torque. IST—electronic shift and throttle controls—are standard. Color choices include silver and white. Honda backs up the 250 with a 5-year non-declining transferable warranty as standard—one of the best warranties available. (www.marine.honda.com)


Mercury Marine

After making a big splash in 2018 with the release of 25 new engines, you might think Mercury Marine would be a little quiet this year, but it’s actually just the opposite. Innovation is in its DNA and Mercury celebrated its 80th anniversary this year by releasing its new 400hp Verado in February.

The engine manufacturer has gone to great lengths to not only create a powerful and lightweight design, but also to reduce the noise and vibration for a smooth and quiet ride.

The new Verado is available in four different colors: traditional Phantom Black and three shades of white—Pearl Fusion White, Cold Fusion White and Warm Fusion White. With a published weight of just 668 pounds, these new 400hp Verados were scattered all over the Miami International Boat Show in four-, five- and yes, even six-engine configurations on the back of the Scout 530 LXF. (www.mercurymarine.com)


Seven Marine

If anyone was wondering why Volvo Penta was so eager to acquire Seven Marine and its outboards, they’re probably not wondering any longer. The purchase has opened up the possibilities for this manufacturer and has propelled Seven Marine even further as the manufacturer continues to have a dominating on-water presence at major boat shows like Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

There are three Seven Marine outboards and each is based on the same 6.2-liter, all-aluminum supercharged V8 four-stroke high-performance powerhead and comes with a three-year warranty. The 527hp is the smallest offered, followed by its 577hp, and the 627hp outboard, weighing in at 1,094 pounds, is the biggest and heaviest by far.

Designed to produce huge torque and horsepower, the target customer for these powerful giants are owners searching for two or more of these outboards on the back of their boats. (www.seven-marine.com)


Suzuki Marine

The dual contra-rotating propellers on Suzuki’s flagship 350 is in a class of its own. Weighing in at 727 pounds, the 4.4-liter V6 four-stroke features every electronic convenience Suzuki has to offer in an outboard to make this a popular choice for Great Lakes boaters, especially when you factor in the low 2.29:1 gear ratio that ensures big planing power for heavy boats.

With a narrow 55-degree vee cylinder arrangement, the 350 is slim enough to look like an Inline 6 and the top RPM is 6,300, where its alternator produces 54 amps.

Suzuki also offers a proven 300hp that weighs in at 578 pounds and produces plenty of power from its 4.0-liter powerhead. Both engines offer a three-year warranty and achieve the best possible three-star CARB/EPA emissions rating.

Based on the manufacturer’s customer service record, Suzuki is clearly after market share with its full lineup offering, and with large engines like the 350 and 300 they’re getting it. (www.suzukimarine.com)


Yamaha Marine

Yamaha released its XTO Offshore 425hp four-stroke last year and to say it’s their largest outboard would be an understatement. While shaving weight is a top priority for some outboard builders, Yamaha instead focused its efforts on durability.

The naturally-aspirated 5.6L V8 started with a target propeller size for large offshore fishing boats and the engineers built an outboard that could spin the bigger prop. To spin a bigger prop you need a bigger prop shaft, diameter and gears, and much more displacement in the engine to give you the torque. The average weight depending on the shaft versions is 976 pounds but when you’re pushing 30,000 pounds of boat it’s not as big a factor as you might think. (www.yamahaoutboards.com)




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