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2019 OUTBOARD MOTOR BUYER’S GUIDE

Whether outfitting a new boat or updating an old favorite with fresh power, these new engines are your insurance for spending quality fishing and family time on the water this upcoming season.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

With the economy banging on all cylinders for most of 2018, now is the perfect time to consider the purchase of a new outboard motor. Here’s the latest scoop on what’s new for 2019; sit back in a comfy chair, grab your favorite beverage and let’s get started.

YAMAHA
The big news from Yamaha for 2019 is the market availability of their new breakthrough 425 XTO Offshore V8 four-stroke, which was introduced over the summer of 2018. This massive outboard was installed on dozens of 30- and 40-something sportfishers down at the recent Ft Lauderdale Boat Show back in early November and is the result of years of Yamaha’s OEM collaboration with top boat manufacturers. It has been built from the ground up to provide the ultimate in power and efficiency for large, ocean-going fishing machines. It is also the first outboard to challenge the market dominance of Seven Marine/Volvo’s mega 557 and 627 V8 outboards for supersized 40- and 50-foot sportfishers, with a product that is only a third of the cost of the mega models. The 425 XTO is available in three different shaft lengths (25, 30, 35 inches), plus two stock colors (dark gray and pearlescent white) and offers the ultimate in installation flexibility when mounted on large 30- to 55-plus-foot sportfishing boats in pairs, triples or quad applications.

As the first four-stroke powerhead in the outboard industry to use direct injection, the V8 XTO Offshore sprays fuel at high pressure directly into the combustion chamber, rather than using an intake track/intake valve setup. This improves atomization and increases the effectiveness of the fuel burn for maximum power and efficiency. The direct injection system features five fuel pumps and injection pressure up to 2,900 PSI to ensure proper fuel flow, even at high engine RPM. Yamaha’s V8 XTO Offshore also boasts the highest compression ratio in an outboard at 12.2:1.

In addition to an oversized gearcase, hardened gears, a robust, offshore bracket and motor mounts, the Yamaha 425 V8 XTO Offshore outboard also features proven plasma fusion technology for durability and lighter weight, eliminating the usual steel cylinder sleeves. This outboard also has a two-stage water pump and dual chamber oil pump, each designed to respond to heavy loads and high RPM operation. Dual overhead camshafts on each cylinder bank are connected via a self-tensioning chain immersed in an oil bath for accurate valve timing and long life. The 425 XTO has an integrated electric steering system with no hydraulic lines or linkages, responding more quickly than conventional systems to steering inputs. In addition, integrated electric steering means reduced power consumption, clean rigging and a very orderly bilge area. The new XTO Offshore outboard also features an integral electronic steering control unit that receives signals from the steering cylinder position sensor to carry out joystick and steering operation with an optional Helm Master. This beast is fueled by 89-octane gasoline and backed by a five-year limited warranty.

For more information, visit www.yamahaoutboards.com.

SUZUKI
After the launch of the Suzuki DF350A motor earlier this year, there are only a few minor items to discuss for 2019. One of these is a new “white” color option for all Suzuki four-stroke outboards from 6 to 350 HP. Another upgrade is that the DF150 and DF175 now employ the same in-line four cylinder block as their big brother, the DF200. These three outboards will also share similar cowlings and lower units. The digital versions can easily reverse the gearcase operation from right hand to left hand rotation with a simple electronics adjustment. A new flat screen multi-function display (made by Furuno for Suzuki) makes it easier to monitor onboard operations and is offered in 7-, 9-, 12- and 16-inch sizes.

In case you missed it, the DF350A is a next-gen outboard with a powerhead that features a 12:1 compression ratio, 4.4-liter displacement, dual overhead cam 32-valve design (two intake and two exhaust valves per cylinder) and twin injectors for each of the six-pack of internal combustion chambers. Suzuki’s proven Precision Control offers drive-by-wire throttle and shift capabilities, which ensures smooth shifting, precise control of the throttle position and easier rigging. Like Suzuki’s other V6 outboards, the DF350A features Suzuki’s offset driveshaft engine layout, which allows for a more compact outboard and two-stage gear reduction. Two-stage gear reduction provides a larger reduction gear ratio (2.29:1) and more torque for both quick acceleration and improvements in top speed. The narrow bank 55-degree V-6 design of the DF350A allows these powerful four-strokes to be mounted on relatively compact 27-inch centers, so it will fit on more transoms and take up less space in twin, triple and quad installations.

The Suzuki engineers broke new ground with the DF350A’s lower unit. The DF350A’s dual propellers provide three key benefits - compact size, increased stability and greater traction. By distributing the power of the engine over six blades, instead of just three, the size of the gears and gearcase is kept to a minimum, which in turn allows for the design of a sleeker, more hydrodynamic gearcase. Plus the need for counter-rotating engines is now a thing of the past. Dual water intakes located at the leading edge of the gearcase bullet and on either side of the skeg, ensure that a constant flow of cooling water gets to the powerhead to keep things cool during those long days offshore.

For more information, visit www.suzukimarine.com.

EVINRUDE
Celebrating its 110th year of operation, Evinrude is the last major manufacturer of two-stroke outboard power and is “all in” for this technology moving forward. With Mercury moving away from their last V6 two-strokes with their latest V6 and V8 four-stroke power offerings, Evinrude is the only option available for a full lineup of two-stroke power choices. The argument of two-stroke versus four-stroke has plusses and minuses for each side, but you can’t argue with the push at the prop that is created when every rotation of the cylinders is a power stroke, as is the case with all Evinrude two-stroke outboards, from the tiny 3.5 portable to the big dog 300 G2.

The G2 series of outboards is Evinrude’s next-gen product line and it covers all of the V6s from 150 through 300 HP. Talking with the Evinrude engineering team at the recent Ft Lauderdale Boat Show, word is that they plan to incorporate more of the midrange ETEC outboards into the G2 family for 2019, specifically the 90-, 115- and 135-HP V6s.

G2 outboards incorporate integrated hydraulic steering, power steering, a next-gen internal power tilt/trim unit, an on-engine oil reservoir (with optional 10-gallon, 3-gallon and 1.8-gallon remote tanks) and can run all day long on regular 87-octane E-10 gasoline. These new ETEC G2 engines offer the first and only customizable look, the only clean rigging and fully integrated digital controls. Consumers can choose the absolute perfect combination of boat and engine by selecting top and front panels, as well as accent colors that match their boat. BRP’s next generation of Evinrude ETEC engines feature no break-in period, a handy auto storage/winterization feature, no oil changes and they are backed by one of the industry’s best engine warranties and least demanding maintenance schedule. BRP is the only outboard manufacturer offering a 5-5-5 program, with a five-year engine warranty, five-year anti-corrosion warranty, and five-year/500 hours with no dealer-scheduled maintenance, allowing for the most hassle-free time on the water.

Evinrude recently announced that it is now a part of the newly established BRP Marine Group. Evinrude, an outboard engine manufacturer that developed the first commercially viable outboard engine back in 1909, will join Alumacraft, an over 70-year-old manufacturer of aluminum fishing boats, as the first players in the new group.

For more information on Evinrude’s two-stroke outboards, visit www.evinrude.com.

MERCURY MARINE
The year 2018 was an impactful one for Mercury Marine, with the introduction of their 175-200-225 HP V6 four-strokes at the Miami Boat Show and the debut of their 175-300 HP V8s in June. Yet another newbie launched at Miami included the portable 15 EFI, which uses its own onboard power generated via its stator to run the fuel injection system for quick starts and improved acceleration.

The 3.4L V6 and 4.6L V8 outboard engine models are available in five family configurations (FourStroke, Pro XS, Verado, Racing and SeaPro commercial). These next-generation outboard engines were five years in the making and are part of the largest single new product development program Mercury has undertaken in its 80-year history, prompting a major investment in expanding its manufacturing footprint in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Along with the 3.4L V6 four-stroke family that was released in Miami, the new 4.6L V8 engines offer boaters a variety of options in the 175- to 300-HP range. All of the new outboards are made in the USA. These yearlings are naturally aspirated and feature large displacement powerheads that have been designed to shed bulk and are incredibly lightweight, with the XL versions of each engine weighing only 485 pounds (V6) and 539 pounds (V8), so they should prove to be an excellent choice for boaters retrofitting older tired two-strokes with weight limitations on the transom.

The V6 and V8 models offer class-leading displacement and a performance-inspired dual overhead cam design that delivers instant throttle response and immediate power. A single throttle body and long performance-tuned intake runners pack more air into the cylinders to boost torque. Yet another feature is Transient Spark Technology, which optimizes spark timing to produce more torque during hole shots. Advanced Range Optimization improves cruise-speed fuel efficiency by automatically adjusting fuel delivery so seamlessly, the operator won’t feel or hear it. Patented closed-loop fuel control uses a wide-range oxygen sensor to optimize the air-to-fuel ratio during all operating conditions. The unique Adaptive Speed Control allows these new Merc V6 and V8 outboards to maintain a desired rpm regardless of changes in load or conditions (such as rough water, tight turns, lower planning speeds, etc.). This translates to fewer adjustments to the throttle lever position - just set it and forget it.

A convenient top cowl service door is another industry-exclusive and simplifies routine maintenance with easy oil checks and oil fills without removing the cowl. It also houses the latch release and a carrying handle just in case you need to take the cowl off the motor. Unlike some competitor’s high output four-strokes that require premium fuel to operate, the new Mercury V6 and V8 outboards deliver peak performance and reliability on less expensive 87-octane fuel. I plan on upgrading my MarCeeJay with one of these new Merc V8s for next season, so stay tuned for some firsthand test reports.

For more information, visit www.mercurymarine.com.

HONDA MARINE
Introduced at this past season’s Miami Boat Show, Honda Marine’s revamped BF200, BF225 and BF250 four-stroke V6 outboards sport a new progressive V form design. All three engines are now based on the same proven 3.6-liter V6 platform that powers the BF250 outboard motor. Improved corrosion resistance and decreased maintenance time add up to enhanced reliability and greater ease of use. All three of these V6 Honda outboard motors feature multiple rigging options for a customized on-the-water experience, with choices including both Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iSTR), and mechanical control options, newly designed user interfaces and a multi-function color display. The BF200-225-250 are now available in either Aquamarine Silver or Grand Prix White, to better match the style and trim of your boat.

This trio of Honda V6s incorporates more than cosmetic appearance changes. Corrosion resistance is improved with a new coating on the surface of engine hardware that utilizes a chemically treated, zinc-nickel plating with a high corrosion-resistant top coat. In addition, components including the oil pan, thermostat cover, upper mount cover, and prop shaft holder use a higher corrosion-resistant material, resulting in a more durable engine and gear case. And for more time on the water, routine maintenance time is reduced for activities such as oil and filter changes on the refreshed V6 outboards, courtesy of a larger diameter dipstick tube, the integration of a water separator and fuel strainer and relocation of the high-pressure filter (from the high-pressure pump) for easier access.

The technology applied to the refreshed Honda BF200, BF225 and BF250 V6 engines is derived from Honda automobiles, gained from years of proven Honda engineering, precision manufacturing and reliability. This cross-platform integration of technology illustrates Honda’s commitment to high performance, fuel efficiency and environmental excellence. Innovative features like variable valve timing, programmed fuel injection, boosted low speed torque (BLAST) combined with a lean burn control give these V6s impressive performance and fuel economy. I tested a few of these in the water at the Miami Show and was favorably impressed with the power and response of Honda’s new 3.6 liter V6 outboards.

For more information, visit www.marine.honda.com.

TOHATSU
Tohatsu America Corp recently announced the debut of its new MFS20E, MFS15E, and MFS9.9E models, all of which made a splash midway through the 2018 model year. These three EFI outboards are among the lightest four-stroke, battery-less, electronic fuel injection (EFI) models in the industry (My new Mercury 15 EFI is made by Tohatsu and is essentially the same outboard as its Tohatsu cousin, with a few minor tweaks.). New innovations allowed Tohatsu engineers to build the lightest weight EFI outboard in its class, featuring excellent performance with low noise, low vibration, exceptional torque and top end speed. Start-ups are simple with the EFI system and the power to run it comes from an onboard stator located under the flywheel. Tohatsu chose to build a family of small, light and portable EFI outboards because they feature easy startup with no choke required and smooth, crisp acceleration throughout all RPM ranges. Another added benefit of an EFI versus their previous carbureted outboards is the fuel efficiency at wide open throttle, which allows you to go up to 50 percent farther on the same amount of fuel.

The new MFS20/15/9.9 EFIs inherited the popular "Light Weight ECO Sport" development and design concept from Tohatsu’s signature MFS50/40A models. This design has been so well received worldwide, that they chose to incorporate that signature look in this redesign. And, by moving heavy components such as the crankshaft and driveshaft forward compared to the previous model, the tilting weight has decreased by 26 percent from the previous version. Tohatsu has also added Power Tilt to their remote steering/throttle models to provide owners with even greater operating convenience. This engine offers the same features as the 20/15 EFI models, plus an added power tilt feature for greater operating convenience. As with other Tohatsu engines, you can count on them to deliver the same reliability that has made them a worldwide provider of outboards. Other features include a canister style oil filter for easy replacement, a user-friendly fuel water separator, plus an ultra-low emission with CARB three-Star rating, backed by a five-year limited warranty.

For more information, visit www.tohatsu.com.

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