Every year we round up some of the best outboard engines on the market and review the latest innovations and technological advancements for our readers. Of course, the best outboard for your boat depends entirely what type of boat you own, from the class to the make and model, and how you intend to use the vessel.
- Suzuki DF90A
- Yamaha F25
- Suzuki DF25A
- Mercury 90-150 FourStroke Lineup
- Mercury SeaPro 500HP
- Mercury Verado 600HP V12
- Torqeedo Deep Blue
- Yamaha V-Max SHO 115
- Yamaha 425 XTO Offshore
- Yamaha F250
- Suzuki DF350A
- Mercury's ProXS Series
- Mercury Racing 450r
- Evoy 150
- Honda 105 Jet
2021 has been a busy year in the world of outboard engines already, with great changes afoot not only due to COVID-19 and certain manufacturing challenges, but also in part to great leaps made with dramatic new features in the industry. This is all combining to make big waves in the future of outboard propulsion in the boating industry.
As we noted in our 2020 best outboard engines round up, the past decade or so has seen outboard engines grow dramatically in size, popularity, and reliability, with technological advancements so important that the once-settled two-stroke versus four-stroke debate has been re-opened, alternative fuel outboards have become more than just a viable option, while significant benefits like joystick steering and Skyhook anchoring are now a consideration. So, how will you know which outboard to choose? Truth be told there aren’t many “bad” options on the market these days, but there certainly are some stand-outs that warrant some added attention. So before you make any moves, be sure to check out these best-of-the-best outboard engines.
Suzuki DF90A - Best All-Around Mid-Size Outboard
The original DF90 was a home-run hit for Suzuki, but after being produced for over a decade, the motor was redesigned in mid-2018. Net result? A smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient home-run hit.
Twelve years after starting the four stroke revolution with its award winning DF70 and DF60 outboards, Suzuki reinvented the category again with the DF90A. The first of Suzuki's new generation four-strokes, the DF90A is a showcase of advancements and achievements – such as digital sequential electronic fuel injection, a powerful 2.59:1final drive ratio, zero-maintenance self-adjusting time chain and don’t forget the Suzuki Lean Burn Control System. New DF90A models also sport the optional Suzuki Troll Mode System.
The next-gen 90 has a 91.7 cid four-cylinder DOHC powerhead, an offset driveshaft, and a two-stage gear reduction. That makes for a package three inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter than the old version.
While we're looking at Suzuki outboards in 2021, we should also mention that the outboard manufacturer's new DF115BG and DF140BG four stroke outboards are great engines that are poised to make some serious ripples in the world of competitive outboards for mid-size boats with their simplified rigging, improved fuel efficiency and easier maintenance.
Yamaha F25 - Best Lightweight Outboard
A strong contender in the 25 horsepower outboard class range is the Yamaha F25 which is ideal for smaller vessels where performance is still top of mind. One of our contributors spent a day running the F25 and as you can see in the test and review video, it actually offers peak performance at the top of the RPM range. At 5500 RPM it burns a mere 1.8 GPH and on the AlumaCraft Escape 145 test boat, cruised along at 12.1 MPH. Most outboards of this size get run for extended periods at or near wide-open throttle, so this high-end efficiency is a big deal. On top of that, the F25 has battery-less EFI and weighs 136 pounds, making it the lightest 25 HP outboard currently on the market.
Find out more about all the newest Yamaha outboard models in The Outboard Expert: New F25, F75, F90 Outboards from Yamaha.
Suzuki DF25A - Most Reliable Small Outboard
In 2014 when the new Suzuki DF25 hit the market, it was the very first outboard of its size to incorporate battery-less EFI. This enables reliable one- to two-tug starting—for real. We tested one for three entire seasons and rarely had to pull the starter cord more than once. EFI also improves fuel efficiency. But perhaps the biggest advantage to eliminating the carburetor is that the closed pressurized system doesn’t leave any fuel exposed to the air, which eliminates most of the ethanol issues that plague small carbureted engines.
The DF25A is a smooth running “Next Generation” four stroke which delivers quick starts, great acceleration, excellent performance and remarkable fuel economy.
The 2021 DF25A also has a unique air intake system which improves performance; check out a video by our Outboard Expert of the Suzuki 25 and 30 outboards to learn more. Overall this is one of the lightest outboards in the 18.4kW (25PS)/22.1kW (30PS) four-stroke outboard class, plus the advanced fuel injection system and modern electronics combine to deliver class-leading fuel-efficiency.
Mercury 90-150 Four Strokes - Best All-Purpose Outboard Engines
Five years ago Mercury rolled out a new 2.1-liter outboards in 75, 90, and 115 HP ratings with engines that have close to the most displacement in their class while keeping weight at the lowest end of the class. At 359 pounds, in fact, it under-cuts the older 1.7-liter Mercury offerings by 40 pounds. Our Outboard Expert Charles Pluddeman described these engines as running “sewing-machine smooth,” and according to Mercury, an amazing 17,000 testing hours went into developing these outboards.
Today Mercury offers their four stroke outboards in models ranging from 90HP - 150HP. The great things about these engines is that they don’t have to work as hard as many heavier engines (or those with lower displacement), meaning they will get boats up on to a plane faster and accelerate better while providing optimal fuel efficiency at cruising speeds.
Read Mercury Debuts All-new 75 HP, 90 HP, and 115 HP FourStroke Outboards.
Mercury SeaPro 500HP Outboard - Best Commercial Outboard Engine
In 2021 Mercury Marine redefined the way horsepower meets the water by building the first-ever V12 outboards. This resulted in both the SeaPro 500HP and the Verado 600HP (see the next engine on this list). The SeaPro is the most powerful, capable commercial outboard thta Mercury has ever build, which means it is one of the most capable outboards ever made. For commercial operators who demand a lot from their engines and put them through the ringer, this is a no-brainer.
A 7.6-liter displacement and quad-cam design generates amazing torque for moving heavy loads and powering big vessels. The other major selling point of these new engines is that the sterrable gearcase is fully independent meaning the powerhead doesn't move which allows for better use of space on the transom and precise maneuverability in close quarters. This marks a completely innovative new feature for outboard engines in the marine industry.
Mercury Verado 600HP V12 Outboard - Most Powerful Outboard Engine
With Volvo-Penta's announcement at the end of 2021 that they were halting production of Seven Marine 627-horsepower power plant, the world's most powerful outboard engine was taken out of production. In fact this marked the exit of Seven Marine from the industry completely. Naturally, another engine has filled the void and now claims title of the most powerful outboard engine in the world.
Enter the new 2021 Verado 600 horsepower V12 outboard engine that delivers simply some of the most extraordinary performance numbers in the history of outboard engine manufacturing - along with many new innovations and game-changing technologies. Advancements in handling and control are made possible by the outboard segment’s first steerable-gearcase and an industry-first two-speed transmission.
This engine offers quiet, smooth and refined performance and has truly elevated the standards of design and engineering in the outboard market in 2021. A new series of dual props were also crafted to harness the full potential of that whopping 600HP. The "contra-rotating" propeller configuration power the boat on plane swiftly and efficiently, while delivering exceptional handling and fuel economy at midrange speeds.
Torqeedo Deep Blue - Best Electric Outboard Motor
The Torqeedo Deep Blue is an electric outboard which marks this well-known manufacturer’s first attempt at building a mid-sized outboard, with a 60-watt power output that produces thrust approximately equal to an 80 HP gasoline outboard. The advantages of running on all electric are obvious: there’s no exhaust, little noise, no gasoline purchases nor fuel tank to fill, it produces full torque at all speeds, and has no service costs. It is an expensive package—although the engine itself lists at under $24,000 you’ll also have to buy lithium-ion batteries ranging from 9,999 to $32,000—and battery weight (between 213 and 612 pounds depending on the battery system you choose) is significant. But it’s also a serious leap forward in the world of electric outboards. Available batteries include 10 kWh and 40 kWh options, which can provide ranges of up to more than 80 miles at slow speeds and 25 miles running full-tilt.
See our review and video of the Torqeedo Deep Blue.
Yamaha V-Max SHO 115 - Best Mid-Size Outboard For Acceleration
In the 115 HP class we love the Yamaha V-Max 115 SHO, a juiced version of their uber-reliable and time-tested 1.8L F115. The V-Max model spins 5300 – 6300 RPM (as opposed to 5000 – 6000 for the F115) thanks to revised camshafts, a re-mapped ECU, and electronically-controlled throttle. As a point of comparison, that shakes out to an additional 2.7 MPH at top-end on a Skeeter TZX 170 bass boat. Industry standards allow for horsepower ratings with a plus or minus deviation of up to 10-percent, and our Outboard Expert Charles Pluddeman surmised that the SHO version may actually produce as much as 126 horsepower at top-end.
Read Outboard Expert: Yamaha V Max SHO 115 to learn more.
Yamaha 425 XTO Offshore - Best Offshore Sportfishing Outboard
Introduced a few years back, the Yamaha XTO Offshore 425 HP outboard engine is a massive power plant that is ideal for 30 to 40-foot sportfishing center consoles and outboard-powered sporfishing yachts.
Designed from the outset as propulsion system specifically built for offshore, ocean-going, blue water fishing boats this model was also the first four-stroke powerhead to utilize direct injection which delivers maximum fuel efficiency and performance.
Firmly planted among any serious boater's list of best outboard, the XTOs can be seen rigged to the back of many tournament sportfish boats across the country and world, and for good reason.
Yamaha F250 - Most Reliable Outboard
When it comes to four-stroke outboards used to power mid- to large-sized boats, the ubiquitous Yamaha F250 is the hands-down favorite of boaters across the nation. In fact it’s become something of an icon, powering fishing boats, cruiser, and even large pontoons as well as everything in between. This 4.2-liter powerhead has been around for close to a decade and has proven itself with unbeatable reliability in countless situations on countless transoms.
To learn more, check out Yamaha Reveals New 4.2 Liter V6 Model. This may be an old article, but it’s still accurate and in this case, the engine’s age proves its worth beyond any question.
Suzuki DF350A - Most Efficient Design
Suzuki shocked the marine world when it rolled out the DF350A, a 4.4-liter V6 which is not only the most powerful Suzuki has ever offered, but also has contra-rotating propellers. These are counter-rotating props spinning on a single shaft, and they give the lower unit gobs of bite to harness every bit of torque and get large, heavy boats on plane quickly. The arrangement is so effective that engine trim has little impact on hole-shot.
When Suzuki set out to build this engine, their aim was to construct the ultimate outboard engine, mainly by improving the hydrodynamics of the lower unit and converting any wasted rotational energy back into productive power to improve propeller efficiency. Not to mention that the DF350A also has the highest compression ratio ever for a production outboard engine, made possible by an advanced air-fuel cooling system.
Check out Suzuki DF350A Twin Propeller Outboard Engine Introduced to learn more.
Mercury's ProXS Series - Best Competitive Angling Outboards
Yet another Mercury outboard on our list is the ProXS FourStroke V-6 (and V-8) outboards. These engines are available in 175 to 300 HP models in naturally aspirated versions. These are the lightest models of their size, have Adaptive Speed Control (to maintain RPM regardless of load or wave conditions) and a service hatch in the cowl for easy access. The initial roll-out for these engines began in 2018 with the V-6 and rapidly expanded with the V8.
Mercury boasts that competitive anglers powered by Pro XS® outboards have won more bass fishing tournaments than all other brands combined.
Extending the line even further, Mercury began supercharging these engines to create new Verado models up to 400 horses, and a Mercury Racing version that takes it all the way up to 450 horsepower. Just how well these will hold up over the long haul is impossible to say at this point, but reports from consumers indicate that the naturally-aspirated versions have thus far been very reliable and many FourStrokes in commercial service have surpassed the 2,000 hour mark with zero problems.
Mercury Racing 450r - Best High-Performance Racing Outboard
If you're serious about racing, few outboards on the market can match the sheer performance of Mercury's 450r racing engine. This engine is purpose-designed for the high-performance powerboats and delivers "unrelenting power" from a 4.6-liter V8 FourStroke powerhead that gets a face-melting boost from a Mercury Racing supercharger, producing a walloping 450 peak horsepower.
Mercury Racing applies its supercharging expertise to this amazing engine, extracting an incredible amount of power from its 4.6-liter V8. A 2.4-liter belt-driven twin-screw supercharger delivers pressure charging with zero lag for instant throttle response. The supercharger is also water-cooled to reduce the temperature of the intake charge and increase overall power. So basically, this isn't quite grandpa's engine, and it definitely isn't for everyone, clearly. But, if you're really looking for extreme performance in the abusive environment of high-performance boat racing, this is likely your best bet right now.
Evoy 150 - Most Powerful Electric Outboard Motor
Remarkably, Evoy hasn't even officially launched the product line yet and they've already sold out of these motors. Clearly, boaters are salivating at the idea of the world's most powerful electric outboard motor rigged to the back of their boat - which by the way, equates to the equivalent of an eyebrow-raising 150 HP when compared with a traditional internal combustion outboard engine.
The builder is now taking orders for rounds two and three, likely to be delivered in 2022, while the first round are slated to be delivered before the end of 2021. These remarkable 330-pound outboard motors work in tandem with the company's 160-watt-hours per kg batteries. Evoy says the motor is best suited for boats 18-25 feet long for single installments, and 25-35 feet long for dual outboards. The plan is to start with the 150, and develop the product line rapidly from there, releasing a 300 HP outboard next, followed by a 450 HP flagship outboard eventually. That is something we look forward to seeing!
Visit Evoy for more information on this exciting new outboard.
Honda 105 Jet - Best Shallow Water Outboard
Based on Honda's proven BF150 platform, the 105 Jet takes this great technology and adds a jet drive to provide superior shallow water performance. For anglers and boaters who regularly find themselves in very skinny water with rocky bottoms and struggle with beating up their props with dents and dings, this is the engine of choice.
These engines do not have a lower unit and there is no propeller protruding from below the boat's hull, so the draft remains shallow (basically about as shallow as the boat) and provides great maneuverability. Another added bonus to this feature is the extra safety it affords when towing wake boarders and water skiers or young kids on a tube. There is no propeller to worry about injuring anyone.
The Honda 105 Jet features an advanced Dual Overhead Cam, in-line four-cylinder architecture - a benefit from decades of Honda automotive and racing experience - and Honda’s exclusive Dual-Stage Induction system which delivers more horsepower and instant throttle response.
Honorable Mention: Goodbye To Evinrude, The First Outboard Engine Ever
Last year we still had the venerated Evinrude ETEC G2 DFI two-stroke outboards listed as some of the newest, most unusual looking outboards on the market with a bright future. Of course, since BRP discontinued Evinrude in mid 2020, we must admit it will soon be time to retire these engines from the growing list of the best new outboards on the market (especially with all the new competition).
But let's take a moment to remember this great company and its amazing history of producing outboard engines, while we still give a nod to the entire batch of ETEC outboards as one of the top 10 best outboards ever made. Also, the company continues to provide support and parts to existing customers and engines still under warranty.
2022 And Beyond
Stay tuned, because there is a lot happening in the e-mobility and electronic propulsion segment, and another year or two of experience with new 500 HP and 600 HP Mercury beasts will be telling on how they fare under pressue. Plus another year testing all the newest models may well cause a juggling of the list the next time it comes to naming the 10 best outboard engines.
For more information about different outboard models, makes, and sizes, be sure to peruse our Engines & Parts Reviews pages.