Boat Outboards 2013

By Michael Vatalaro
Published: April/May 2013

The past decade has seen an amazing array of changes and improvements in outboard engines. If you haven't shopped for one lately, you're in for a nice surprise.

Hop in a time machine and go back to 2003 to buy an outboard. You'll find a vastly different marketplace, one dominated by carbureted two-stroke engines. They're gone now, relegated to the design dustbin by tightening emissions standards and changing consumer preferences. During the past decade, engine manufacturers have delivered an entirely new lineup of four-stroke power plants rated from 2 to 350 horsepower (plus one 557-hp monster), and added refinements to make them more suited to the demands of modern boats and boaters.

Photo of the Evinrude's E-Tec line of direct-injected two strokes engines
Evinrude's E-Tec line of direct-injected two strokes features a stratified-combustion mode that increases fuel economy while trolling or motoring at no-wake speeds.

But we're not entirely awash in a sea of four-strokes. Direct-injection (DI) two-strokes are alive and well — quite frisky, really — with offerings from Evinrude, Mercury, and Yamaha all competing for space on your transom. The good news for consumers is, no matter which brand or technology you choose, today's outboards will burn at least a third less fuel, run smoother and quieter than the ones we grew up with, and won't spew a cloud of blue smoke. That last bit is crucial, because the quest for a cleaner outboard drove most of the improvements made over that time, and some of the price increases as well.

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