The current trends in outboards are more torque, reduced weight, snazzier looks and easier operation. So if you’re in the market for a new ride or looking to repower your current boat, there’s no shortage of great choices.
Yamaha introduces several new products, including the next generation of 75 and 90 hp four-strokes for the inshore market. Both feature a single overhead camshaft to drive four valves per cylinder, saving weight and increasing efficiency.
The F90 weighs 353 pounds, 13 less than its predecessor, and displaces 1.8 liters. Several other outboards, like the F150, are now available with Digital Electronic Control (DEC), while the new V Max SHO 175 is now offered in a 25-inch-shaft model for larger bay boats and center consoles.
Yamaha’s CL7 Touchscreen Display is also brand-new. The 7-inch touchscreen offers full multifunction capability and connectivity with the Command Link Plus and Helm Master boat control system (upgraded with new features) using Garmin software.
It displays customizable engine and boat system data for up to four outboards, along with other functions such as maps, fish finder and graphing. It is available in two versions: basic and saltwater maps.
This year Mercury adds another control option to its Joystick Piloting for single inboard or sterndrive engines. Compatible with gas or diesel models, as well as Vetus or Side-Power thrusters, the joystick technology provides fingertip vessel control and performance.
The ability to quickly spin the boat will be appreciated by those fighting big fish or maneuvering to a busy dock. The same joystick technology has also been refined for the Verado four-stroke outboard line.
Digital control and monitoring is another recent Mercury launch. The VesselView mobile app is now available as a free download for iOS and Android mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. This handy software allows users to access their boat’s SmartCraft digital data anywhere, once the mobile module is purchased.
The app enables boaters to monitor engine hours, water temperature, rpm and other functions. It also provides accurate fuel data for better economy and fault codes for diagnostics, plus it connects to the nearest Mercury dealer. Additional features such as maritime points of interest, checklist capability and maintenance reminders are included.
Suzuki expands its lineup of four-stroke engines with the DF150AP and DF175AP. These in-line four-cylinder models come with Precision Control drive-by-wire throttle and shift, plus the company’s Selective Rotation gear case.
Performance is enhanced by a 10.2-to-1 compression ratio for powerful hole shots and fast midrange acceleration. Providing cooler air to each cylinder, the Semi-Direct Air Intake System further boosts power. These AP series outboards are built with the crankshaft offset from the drive shaft.
This allows a two-stage gear reduction, which delivers more power and torque to turn larger-diameter, larger-pitched props for peak performance. Additional standard features include sequential fuel injection and controlled delivery for better fuel economy.
For owners of small center consoles and skiffs, Honda has updated its BF40 and BF50 outboards with a new look and several improvements, like multifunction displays and reduced engine vibration at idle.
Both motors come with a freshwater flushing hose on the water jacket cover, and performance traits like improved efficiency at cruising speeds and BLAST (boosted low-speed torque) are standard. These smaller ponies follow the recent introduction of the BF200, BF225 and BF250 in white, with the Intelligent Shift and Throttle feature on the 250.
Midrange outboards highlight Evinrude’s latest in its next-generation G2 series, with fuel-injected two-stroke technology to deliver more torque, better fuel economy and less emissions than comparable four-stroke outboards.
Ranging from 150 to 200 horses, the new engines feature integrated Dynamic Power Steering and i-Trim for optimal handling in any sea conditions. By incorporating these functions into the motors’ midsections, rigging is simplified for a cleaner transom.
Meanwhile, the distinctive look and wide range of colors available offer customized styling.
Tohatsu also has some candidates for a custom look. In 2017, the popular 40/50 four-stroke outboards are available in Beluga White. These three-cylinder engines are light (starting at 209 pounds) and come with electronic fuel injection, 21-amp alternator output, and power tilt and trim as standard features.
Designed for the inshore market, they also have an improved gear case for increased low-end torque to pop up in the shallows.
As these new products show, marine propulsion advances always revolve around increased horsepower, torque and fuel flow. But digital integration is here to stay, thank goodness. Those diodes, semiconductors and gateways make it possible to run boats more efficiently and dependably. That helps us catch more fish, which is always welcome news.