Get Your Outboard Running
Pick the best outboard with this Buyers Guide.
By Gregg Mansfield
With most supply chain problems in the rearview mirror, this year may be one of the best times to buy a new outboard. Manufacturers have products on the shelves and the latest outboards are the cleanest, most fuel efficient and technologically advanced ever built.
Boaters have plenty of traditional outboard options from Mercury Marine, Mercury Racing, Suzuki Marine, Yamaha Marine, Honda Marine and Tohatsu as well as new electric and diesel outboards entering the marketplace. Long gone are the two-stroke outboards, replaced with quiet and cleaner-burning four-stroke outboards that come with extended warranties.
To help make the process of buying a new outboard a little easier, Center Console Life has compiled a Buyers Guide for outboards.
Yamaha Marine produces more than 30 outboards from 2.5 horsepower up to the new 450 XTO Offshore, an update of the reliable workhorse XTO 425. The 450 XTO uses the same 5.6-liter big-block displacement as the 425-hp version but one of the biggest improvements is the outboard produces up to 96 net amps for powering gyro stabilizers, air conditioning and sound systems.
The V8 direct-injection outboards have integrated electric steering and Yamaha restyled both XTO outboards with a new back panel and raised chrome graphics on the sides.
Yamaha’s V6 4.2-liter outboard lineup for 2023 includes 225-, 250- and 300-hp models. Yamaha added electrical steering (it’s also available with mechanical) and updated the cowlings for the 250- and 300-hp models.
Yamaha gave its In-line 4 150- and 200-hp outboards a new cowling design and added features including integrated electro-hydraulic steering and Yamaha’s Total Tilt, a nice feature to tilt the outboard out of the water with a touch of a button.
Yamaha’s midrange four-stroke outboards include 75-, 90- and 115-hp models with the latter suited for a small center-console boat. The outboards sport a 1.8-liter displacement, and 25-inch shaft options are available for the F115.
Not to be overlooked is Yamaha’s V MAX SHO line, the V6 outboards are available at 200, 225 and 250 horsepower. Anglers running the V MAX SHO have won four of the last five Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles. The trio of outboards now feature 40 percent more charging power and a new cowling design.
Yamaha recently added a 90-horsepower outboard to its In-Line 4 V MAX SHO four-stroke line that also includes 115, 150 and 175 to horsepower versions.
Rounding out Yamaha’s lineup are 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 20, and 25 horsepower, joined by 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 horsepower models.
For smoother operation of its motors, Yamaha upgraded its Helm Master EX with new trim and lighting options and increased functionality. The Helm Master update comes after Yamaha introduced a joystick-only control station.
Suzuki Marine has had a busy 12 months that started at the 2022 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show with the introduction of the DF350AMD and DF300BMD V6 four-stroke outboards and more recently the release of the DF250ATSSW at the 2023 Miami International Boat Show.
The latest additions to the Suzuki Marine lineup will be appreciated by its fan base whether it’s for new boats or repowers. Suzuki builds outboards starting at 2.5 horsepower up to 350 horsepower. The DF350AMD and DF300BMD flagship models have gotten a lot of attention. The models with contra-rotating twin propellers are the first Suzuki outboards to offer advanced integrated steering. The integration provides cleaner rigging for the V6 outboards.
Suzuki has also engineered a new lower gearcase for the DF350AMD and DF300BMD (also available on all five series 350A/300B models), designed to enhance durability, increase top-speed performance, improve fuel efficiency and make maintenance and service easier.
Suzuki carried the four-stroke V6 platform over to the DF225T, DF250T, DF250AP and DF300AP. All the models in this range include fly-by-wire steering and offer lots of torque and plenty of power. The outboards are equipped with a high-output alternator with the 250-hp version producing 54 amps to keep electronics running.
Suzuki went with a four-stroke, four-cylinder design for the five outboards in the 115-200 horsepower range. Models include the DF115B, DF140B, DF150A, DF175A and DF200A. One of the coolest features is the Micro-Plastic Collecting Device that comes standard on all iterations of its 115- and 140-hp outboards. Microplastics near the water surface can be collected simply by running the boat. A large amount of marine plastic waste that flows into the ocean has become a significant environmental issue.
Suzuki’s midsize engines consist of DF40A, DF50A, DF50AV, DF60A, DF60AV, DF75A and DF90A. All of the engines in the midsize range are four-stroke, three or four cylinders. On the lower horsepower spectrum, Suzuki Marine offers eight outboards between 2.5 and 30 horsepower.
Mercury Marine builds the most powerful outboard on the market and instead of adding more horsepower, the company has looked inward. Filling a gap in the lineup, the company launched its V10 platform in late 2022 with the 5.7-liter naturally aspirated 350- and 400-hp Verado outboards.
Mercury Marine offers a V8 and V12 platform, and the new V10 model is ideal for center-console models thanks to its standout torque and power. Mercury says the new V10 engines are the quietest and smoothest in their class, running 45 percent quieter than a leading competitor at cruise.
The new V10 outboards, which have been in development for more than three years, offer a mix of updated and new technology. Among the features are a larger gearcase, larger propellers, an upgraded alternator and extended service intervals.
In addition to the Verado line, Mercury’s lineup includes Pro XS, FourStroke and SeaPro (commercial). The 600-hp Mercury Verado is the most powerful outboard on the market after Seven Marine stopped production of the 627SV in January 2021. The 7.6-liter Verado offers a couple of industry firsts: A steerable gearcase and a two-speed transmission.
Rounding out the Verado V8 segment are the 250- and 300-hp outboards.
Mercury Marine’s FourStroke line, which starts at 75 horsepower, features an eight-valve single overhead cam that runs on 87-octane fuel. The line boasts quick acceleration, increased fuel economy with the outboards being the lightest in its class. The FourStroke line includes 90-, 115-, 175-, 200-, 225-, 250- and 300-hp outboards.
Anglers—especially bass fishermen—looking to get to a spot quickly will want to check out the Pro XS line. The V8 and V6 Pro XS outboards offer great acceleration and torque, while delivering excellent fuel economy. Mercury’s Pro XS outboards start at 115 horsepower with six models up to 300 horsepower.
Mercury offers outboards starting at 2.5 horsepower covering nearly every power segment up to 400 horsepower.
Mercury Racing may be the little brother to Mercury Marine but the Fond du Lac, Wisc., engine and accessories manufacturer gets to have all of the fun. Mercury Racing’s bread and butter used to be sterndrives, but in the past decade it’s been about the outboards.
The recent addition to the Mercury Racing line is the 400R, which made its debut at the 2023 Miami International Boat Show and replaces the L6 400R outboard. The new 400R features a naturally aspirated 5.7-liter (349 CID) powerhead and is designed for performance center-console boats and catamarans with speeds faster than 75 mph. The Mercury Racing V10 400R will be available in 20”, 25”, 30” and 35” lengths.
There are four additional outboards under the Mercury Racing banner including the 60R, 250R, 300R and 450R. The Mercury Racing outboards, compared to their Mercury Marine counterparts, have upgraded parts and a remapped power range.
Not every boat needs big horsepower and that’s where Tohatsu Marine can help. The Japanese builder’s most powerful offering is 250 horsepower and Tohatsu has lots of lower horsepower models.
The company’s higher-power offerings include the new BFT150D joining the BFT200D, BFT225D and BFT250D in the lineup. Except for the BFT150D, the V6 outboards have a 3.6-liter displacement and thanks to a high-output 90A alternator, the outboards can produce 60 charging amps to run electronics.
Tohatsu uses Simpliq Technology that focuses on improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions of its outboards. It is designed to provide better performance and reliability while reducing environmental impact.
Tohatsu’s midrange outboard offerings span from 25 to 140 horsepower. Within this power range, Tohatsu offers a selection of propeller- and jet-drive outboards. The builder starts with the MF25D and offers eight four-stroke outboards up to the 140-hp mark.
For boaters looking for less than 20 horsepower, Tohatsu has 11 models to choose from starting with the trolling motor MFS2.5.
Honda Marine was among the first manufacturers to offer four-stroke outboards in America and more than 40 years later the Japanese manufacturer has a loyal following whether it’s outboards or cars. Most new outboards sold in the United States are between 100 and 200 horsepower, which is the sweet spot for Honda Marine.
In late 2021, Honda Marine launched the BF140 replacing the BF135 and redesigned its popular BF115 and BF150 outboards. The moves proved successful as the three models are among the leading sellers for Honda Marine.
The BF115, BF140 and BF150 models feature multiple rigging options including Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST) and mechanical control options. Honda’s outboards can be remotely monitored with the HondaLink Marine smartphone app. The trio of outboards have a 16-valve dual overhead camshaft configuration for increased high rpm power and offer 55 total amps with 40 amps of charging power available for a range of electrical accessories.
Honda Marine redesigned its flagship outboards the BF200, BF225 and BF250 about five years ago with the second generation of iST for drive-by-wire functionality with joystick control. Additionally, Honda made maintenance easier and restyled the outboards’ cowlings.
The outboards feature Honda’s BLAST system that improves holeshot and low-speed acceleration as well as Lean Burn Control for improved fuel efficiency. The 225- and 250-hp outboards come with VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control System), which improves midrange torque.
Honda offers eight outboards it markets as “midrange power” starting with the BF25 and BF30 followed by the BF40, BF50 and BF60 outboards. Rounding out Honda’s midrange power is the BF75, BF90 and BF100 outboards.
Like the other engine manufacturers, Honda Marine offers a handful of kicker outboards beginning with the 2.3-hp BF and joined by BF5, BF8 and BF9.9, BF15 and BF20 models.
Read more on the 2023 Electric outboards here: