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The new 90 H.O. is the eighth member of Evinrude’s high output family, which also includes 250, 225, 200, 150,135,115 and 15 HP models.
By Capt. John N. Raguso
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It’s a powerful performer when compared to Evinrude’s normal 90 HP outboard, which is an in-line three-cylinder configuration that measures 79 cubic inches of displacement. The 90 H.O is essentially a detuned 115-HP V-4 and puts that extra cylinder and resulting added potential (105 cubic inches) to good use with quicker hole shots and the ability to push larger and heavier hulls, while still being rated with an engine decal that is under 100 sea horses.

Although four-strokes make up the majority of new outboards sold every year, both in new boat OEM sales and for repowering, there still is a place in the marine marketplace for two-strokes. It’s been my experience that two-stroke direct injection motors (like the E-TEC) actually get better fuel economy compared to four-strokes. The down side of two-strokes is the need to add expensive outboard oil, which can exceed $32 a gallon and adds significantly to daily operational costs. On the plus side, two-strokes tend to be more peppy than their four-stroke counterparts, since all cylinders are firing with every turn of the crankshaft, versus the four-stroke combustion process that is firing on only half of its cylinders for every rotation of the crank. That’s why four-strokes have traditionally been larger, heavier and with more internal displacement, to make up for this shortfall. Four-strokes also have many more moving parts compared to a two-stroke (valves, oil sumps, camshafts, etc.) and require expensive oil changes every 100 hours or once a season. You get the picture; there’s no right or wrong answer here. Both two-strokes and four-bangers have a useful place on the transom of a coastal or back bay fishing boat.

What’s unique about the Evinrude E-TEC family of outboards is the lack of initial maintenance. According to the factory folks, no maintenance is required for the first three years (or 300 hours) of ownership. That translates to zero inspections or adjustments, no changing gearcase lube, no spring tune-ups (the iridium spark plugs are good for 300+ hours), no nothing for a full three years, and then every three years after that. A lot of money goes back into your pocket, and will certainly help you to buy some extra two-stroke outboard oil! There are significantly fewer parts in an Evinrude E-TEC compared its typical four-stroke counterpart; approximately 195 fewer parts or so. There are no valves, belts, camshafts or pulleys to adjust or replace, which certainly eliminates numerous potential problem areas and enhances theoretical reliability. What’s really slick about the Evinrude E-TEC outboards is their “auto storage” feature. When it’s time to put it to sleep for the winter, the engine fogs itself automatically in minutes, with no trip to the dealer. It’s so easy, you can do it any time. If you keep your boat in the northeast, you’ll be able to go fishing if you get a winter warm spell and then bring your rig back home, hit the auto store function and put her back to sleep. Nice!

Evinrude recently ran some factory tests with the new 90 E-TEC H.O. set on the transom of a Carolina Skiff 198 DKV, which is a nice match of a semi-vee bottomed bay boat to a relatively modest horsepower outboard. With two people onboard, a full tank of fuel (30 gallons) and spinning a 14.75 x 17 Viper S/S prop, this boat and motor combination hit a top speed of 42 mph which is impressive. Dialing it back to more sedate throttle settings, the cruising speed range for the E-TEC 90 H.O was equally as appealing, netting four-plus miles per gallon from 3000 to 5500 rpms, which covers a wide band of operating speeds from 16.6 to 38.4 mph. So no matter what the wind and water conditions allow, you can speed up or throttle down to match the situation with no penalty in fuel economy. That’s special! Optimum cruise was at 4500 revs, where the Carolina Skiff 198 DKV hit 30.9 mph at 6.45 gph, for a net of 4.8 mpg. Not bad efficiency for a boat and motor combination that weights over 2,000 pounds. When dropping the 90 H.O down to trolling speeds, it sips fuel through a VERY thin straw. Setting the throttle to 1000 rpm will hit 3.9 mph on the GPS at an incredible 0.35 gph for a bottom line of 11.1 mpg. That’s better than some cars out there on the road! You can literally troll the beach for bass all day long for less than a couple of gallons of fuel.