2020 Outboard Motor Buyer's Guide - The Fisherman

2020 Outboard Motor Buyer’s Guide

Boats keep on getting larger, with more room on the transom to stack all of those sea ponies, so correspondingly, outboards keep on getting bigger, generating significantly more propshaft horsepower. Outboard design technology continues to push the envelope for the 2020 model year, with Mercury rivaling Yamaha with a pair of new 400 HP+ entries into the mega power mix. For the first time in a long time, and for as far back as I can remember going to boat shows for the better part of four decades, Mercury Outboards had the most outboards on display at the recent 2019 Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show. This is a positive takeaway for the current state of American manufacturing, mirror-imaging a fairly robust economy and relatively low fuel prices. It’s a good time to be in the outboard engine market, myself included in that mix, because I am repowering my EdgeWater 228 with a new Merc V8 for the upcoming season. So sit back and enjoy the ride, as we explore what’s in store in the world of outboards for 2020.      


Evinrude 115HO Black Back

This Milwaukee-based manufacturer is “all-in” with their two-stroke direct-injected outboard power plants for the 2020 season and as discussed in a detailed Fisherman product review earlier this season, Evinrude’s new three-cylinder 115 HO, 140 and 150 HP G2 E-TEC’s have been wowing the marina crowd ever since their debut in mid-2019. With some minor nuances, these new G2 outboards are essentially “half” of the proven 300 V-6, using the identical bore dimensions in the cylinder (3.85-inches), but are stroked a bit more for some extra juice (3.25-inches vs 3.00 inches for the V6).

Two strokes typically have a stronger torque curve compared to their four-stroke cousins and this is especially true in the midrange (3500-to-4500 rpm) power curve. The reason for this is simple…two-strokes feature a power stroke for every turn of the crankshaft, whereas four-strokes offer a power stroke on every other turn of crankshaft, essentially “dead-heading” half of their cylinders. As long as they continue to meet the emission standards, there is definitely a place for two-strokes, especially one as peppy and clean burning as these new Evinrude G2 direct-injection E-TECs.

The new G2 three-cylinder 115 HO, 140 and 150 models deliver more torque and fuel efficiency at lower RPMs than comparable four-stroke engines, giving boaters extended range and more power. All E-TEC G2 engines are worldwide emissions compliant and have the most user-friendly ownership experience with no break-in period, no dealer-scheduled maintenance for five-years or 500 hours, five-year factory backed service coverage and no engine oil changes. Evinrude packs next-generation technology such as digital shift and throttle, the iTrim control system, digital instrumentation, custom color panels and optional iSteer dynamic power steering into these outboards, with new premium graphics and the option of a white or slate gray frame. The 115 HO and 140 models are available with premium controls and gauges, as well as a tiller option with touch troll and trim switches, LEDs for basic diagnostics and an NMEA 2000 connection for integration with external gauges and accessories. For more information, visit www.evinrude.com.


Honda Marine BF250 Outboard MotorHonda 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, gaining 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 https://marine.honda.com


Mercury 450R V8 White

The big news from Mercury for 2020 is really BIG, with the introduction of their 400 Verado and the supercharged 450R, which is built around the new 4.6L big-block V8 platform. The 400 HP Verado is suitable for a wide range of applications, including large multi-engine center consoles, cabin boats, inshore and bay boats, plus larger sport boats. Consumers will appreciate the added power over and above the 350 HP Verado, while maintaining the standard for smooth and quiet operation for which Verado outboards are widely known. Weighing just 668-pounds (same as the 350 HP Verado), the 2.6L supercharged 400 Verado is also the lightest outboard in the competitive 400+ HP category by nearly 300-pounds. The 400 HP Verado will be available in all the same model variations as its 350 sibling. It will use the 5.44-inch, 1.75:1 HD (heavy duty) gearcase and will be available in Phantom Black and all three shades of white…Warm Fusion, Cold Fusion and Pearl Fusion. It is also compatible with Mercury’s Joystick Piloting for Outboards (JPO). According to Mercury Marine’s President John Pfeifer, “As boats continue to increase in size, so has the need for more power. This gives us an opportunity to provide an even higher horsepower Verado in the market, providing the durability and reliability that the Verado brand is known for around the world. The introduction of the 400 HP Verado is another step in the evolution of the proven L6SC platform that has been successful in the market and we expect to be successful for years to come.”

The new Mercury Racing 450R outboard is purpose-designed for the high-performance disciple craving unrelenting power. Steeped in Mercury Racing DNA, the 450R features a 4.6-liter V8 FourStroke powerhead boosted by an exclusive Mercury Racing supercharger to produce 450 peak propshaft horsepower and 40 percent higher torque than the powerful 400R that is based on the in-line six cylinder Verado powerhead. At over 300 pounds lighter than the nearest competitor, the new 450R delivers industry-leading power-to-weight in a compact, efficient package. The 450R writes a power prescription that combines unprecedented acceleration and top speed potential with rugged reliability and the latest technology from Mercury Racing. Multiple gear case, control system, tie bar and styling options are available to create the ultimate customized outboard performance package, ready to run “wide open” all day long. Best of all, the Mercury Racing 450R delivers all of its performance on readily available 89-octane gas. The new Mercury 450Rs were adorning the transoms of dozens of boats at the recent Ft Lauderdale Boat Show in triple, quad and five-gang installations.

In more good news from Merc, their recently introduced next-gen V-6 and V-8 FourStroke, Pro XL, Verado and SeaPro models are finally shipping to dealers for new boat and repower installations. My MarCeeJay will sport a new electronic drive-by-wire 250 Mercury V-8 for the 2020 season, so stay tuned. For more information on the entire lineup of Mercury four-stroke outboards, visit www.mercurymarine.com


Suzuki DF300B Black

Suzuki Marine recently introduced the DF300B, a new 300 HP V6 four-stroke model featuring Suzuki’s exclusive contra-rotating propellers. This DF300B joins Suzuki’s flagship 350hp contra-rotating outboard and provides superior “grip” on the water when boaters hit the throttle. This translates to superior performance from start to finish, with improved hole shots, stronger mid-range acceleration, improved top-end speed and enhanced low-speed maneuvering. With the engine’s power distributed over six blades, rather than three, Suzuki is able to reduce the size of the gears and create a sleek, hydrodynamic lower unit that slices through the water with minimum drag. This increased propeller blade surface area and contra-rotating action also delivers exceptional acceleration while eliminating steering torque and providing incredible reverse thrust, an especially important feature for docking and other close-quarter maneuvers. The performance advantages of Suzuki’s contra-rotating propulsion are particularly evident when pushing large, heavy hulls loaded with crew, fuel, bait and gear.

The DF300B’s robust 4.4-liter displacement features a 10.5:1 compression ratio and duel fuel injectors for optimum performance and efficiency using 87 octane gasoline. By using two smaller fuel injectors, Suzuki delivers a precise amount of fuel to the center of the combustion chamber, improving atomization and avoiding off-center combustion, a common cause of engine knock. A dual-louver, direct air intake system on the DF300B helps the engine breath freely for optimum performance while separating out water, spray and moisture for improved reliability. This unique intake system also provides the engine with cooler, denser air for a more powerful combustion cycle. Suzuki’s proven Lean Burn Control Technology helps ensure optimum fuel efficiency at cruising speed and across the entire rpm range. In addition, updates to the DF300B engine cover and improvements in sound management reduce decibel levels evident in the cockpit, even at high engine speeds.

The DF300B features the offset driveshaft engine layout found on other Suzuki outboards, allowing for an overall compact design, along with two-stage gear reduction (2.29:1) for plenty of low-end torque without sacrificing top-end performance. This compact size, light weight (727 lbs. for 25-inch shaft model) and easy integration with Suzuki Precision Control drive-by-wire throttle and shift controls make the DF300B a clear choice for rigging on a wide variety of boats in single or twin installations. Other advanced features like Suzuki’s Easy Start, Troll Mode and compatible Multi-Function Display Screens enhance the overall boating experience. For more information, visit www.suzukimarine.com.


Tohatsu MFS60

Tohatsu has introduced a new 60 HP four-stroke engine for the 2020 model year. With a sleek look and two color options (Aqua Marine Blue and Beluga White), the new MFS60A four-stroke outboard has been created with next-gen technologies. Employing proven electronic fuel injection (EFI) with dual intake valves, anodized pistons and a modified roller rocker arm, your time on the water will be enhanced with smoother and faster acceleration. The 60hp EFI four-stroke not only offers improved acceleration while using less fuel, it also provides the lightest weight in its class (starting at only 213-lbs) without sacrificing performance and is available in either tiller handle or remote control models. Equipped with standard features such as a variable idle speed function that allows you to change the idle speed from 650 to 950 rpm increments; a low gear ratio giving you increased low end torque for fast hole shots; electric start; power tilt and trim; a freshwater flushing system designed to make routine flushing more convenient; plus a high output 21-amp alternator, the MFS60 provides the reliability and longevity that you would expect from Tohatsu, Japan’s oldest outboard engine manufacturer.

Other notable standard features on the new Tohatsu MFS60A include a unique SOHC with 9-valve design that’s available in short (15-inch), long (20-inch) and extra-long (25-inch) shaft lengths. The microcomputer programmed ignition system insures quicker starts and the new and improved gear case with lower gear ratio provides for increased low end torque. An adjustable steering friction and trim tab will enable operators to reduce steering effort and a camshaft-driven trochoid oil pump ensures long-term durability of critical internal engine components. To alert boaters to possible trouble issues when underway, there’s a low oil pressure warning (visual and audible), an overheat warning (audible), start-in-gear protection for safer engine starting, a safety lanyard (an essential protection feature standard on all Tohatsu outboards), plus an over-rev limiter. This outboard comes standard with an ultra-low 3-star CARB emission rating and is backed by a 5-year limited warranty. For more information, visit www.tohatsu.com


Yamaha F20

The 4.2-liter V6 V MAX SHO 200 X-Shaft is the latest addition to the family. While originally envisioned as a bass boat power solution, V MAX SHO outboards have found a following among many saltwater anglers as well. The X-Shaft models, which include the V MAX SHO 250, 175, 150, 115 and 90 X-Shaft models, feature a 25-inch shaft perfect that makes it an even better choice for anglers fishing bigger waters on XL transom boats such as deep-V hulls, bay boats, flats boats and multi-species craft. Light-weight, fuel efficient and quiet, the entire V MAX SHO lineup boasts unparalleled hole shot performance and can be easily rigged with the boater’s choice of analog, 6Y5 digital or Command Link gauges. The V6 V MAX SHO has transformed the game with its 4.2-liter big-bore displacement, signature four-stroke fuel economy and a hole shot that’s up to 13% faster than two strokes.

Another recent introduction from Yamaha is their F20, the latest addition to its portable power product line.  Combining power, efficiency and convenience, the all-new four-stroke outboard is a perfect fit for boaters limited to 20-horsepower. The new F20 is built around the F25, an Innovation Award-winning outboard that immediately set the industry standard. Modified ECU mapping and a redesigned camshaft allow the new F20 to harness the huge potential of this platform and optimize the performance of every one of the twenty horses available. The F20 features an alternator that produces up to 16-amps of power, 60% output than the previous generation F20. There is also ample electrical power for battery charging with plenty to spare for additional electronic equipment. The variable trolling rpm switch makes the F20 the perfect fishing companion, while the easy to use fresh water flush attachment makes the outboard simple to clean at the end of the day. Built-in ergonomic carry handles and two-position resting pads make it easy to remove and store the F20. Customers can choose manual start configuration, using Yamaha’s battery-less Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) technology, to power their boat with minimum rigging requirements. Yamaha offers a range of electric-start configurations, all with the added peace of mind of factory installed manual pull start. The new F20 comes in long and short shaft versions with remote, electric or manual start tiller handle, or optional multifunction tiller control. For more information, visit www.yamahaoutboards.com.