A good boating friend once told me when I was in the market for my first boat that ‘you get what you pay for.’ And that statement rings true for more than just the boat itself.
As you begin to budget your finances for a boat purchase, please remember that the motor cost is in addition to the body itself. Therefore, please note, as weight and size increase, so will cost.
This article’s focus considers different factors that contribute to the cost of an outboard engine. Prices range from a few hundred dollars for a 2.5 horsepower motor, good enough to push a small boat around the lake, to a whopping $100,000 for 627 horsepower at your boat’s transom.
Table of Contents
- 3 Types of Boat Engines
- What Affects The Price Of An Outboard Motor?
- Other Costly Considerations
- Top 3 Outboard Motor Brands And Cost
- Torqeedo: Leading The Electric Outboard Motor Industry
- Mercury Marine: Where Family Heritage Meets Racing Performance
- Evinrude: A Product of Determination, Humbleness, and Will
3 Types of Boat Engines
For this article, I will offer you a list of considerations to explore that directly affect the price of your boat motor. Depending on your intended use and style of boat, there are three main types of boat motors to explore:
Typically, boat owners select inboard motors for applications requiring significant power due to their intended use and weight loads.
These four-stroke engines produce high torque levels and need significantly more mechanical skills to operate and maintain.
Whether gasoline or diesel, inboard motors are set towards the center of the boat’s hull alongside the transmission. A driveshaft runs the boat’s length to the stern, whereby a propeller drives the engine, and a rudder achieves a directional movement.
Whether you prefer a marinized automobile motor or a marine-grade motor built from scratch, the sterndrive design is a combination of inboard and outboard engine characteristics.
Sterndrive motors are typically larger four-stroke motors that mount inside an insulated and waterproof locker at the boat’s stern. These motors have an extended steering shaft propelled by gears that extend through the bottom of the transom with its propeller aligned, similar to an outboard motor.
The outboard engine is gaining popularity in the boating community, from smaller lake dwellers to oversize yachts. This type of motor attaches to the boat’s transom, which is the rear-most cross-section of the boat.
Historically, outboard engines came standard as a two-stroke motor (less moving parts=more efficiency); however, modern-day manufacturers have developed two- and four-stroke designs that put old-age bias to rest.
One of the advantages of these motors is that they come standard with a tilt function that enables you to lift the gear case and propeller out from the water during storage or when not in use.
What Affects The Price Of An Outboard Motor?
When you buy a new boat, the manufacturer will provide you with a list of motors and configurations that are a direct fit (or with some slight modification) for your boat, depending on your intended use.
Outboard motors are rugged workhorses that boat owners prefer due to better maneuverability, efficiency, and starting price. But, if you want to power your boat with a Maserati-grade boat motor, then you will have to put your money where your mouth is.
When considering different motor options, reference this Quick Buying Guide that will help you choose the most suitable motor for your boat:
- Boat Capacity- Look for the capacity plate near the stern of your boat. This plate includes critical information about the hull, including load weight and the boat’s minimum and maximum horsepower rating. Again, be sure to adhere to the designated limits not to put yourself or others at risk.
- Intended Use- In most cases, it is unnecessary to choose a motor that will max out the capacity of your boat. For example, you are a fisherman that owns an 18-foot Jon boat that typically roams shallow waterways and muddy riverbanks. Although the maximum recommended horsepower for this design of flat-bottom boat should not exceed 60 horsepower (also depending on brand and specific model), you don’t need that kind of power for the work you intend to carry out.
- Weight Considerations- If you refer back to your boat’s capacity plate, you will also see several weight restrictions. You may see a Passenger Weight Limit that might read something along the lines of MAX 4 PERSONS OR 450 LBS. A larger number will likely indicate total weight capacity, including persons, gear, and engine weight. If you are unsure, please contact your authorized dealer or boat manufacturer. And, yes, you can do some finagling around with numbers depending on what carrying element is more important to you- for example, if you don’t plan on taking lots of passengers, you will be able to carry extra gear.
- Transom Height: Shaft Length- If the outboard motor shaft is significantly longer than your transom height, you could be placing yourself in danger. Having too long a driveshaft will negatively affect maneuverability and fuel efficiency. In addition, you will never see the top speed you were expecting out of your outboard motor.
- Fuel or Electric- If you are looking for an environmentally friendly boat motor, several innovative electric boat motors are available on today’s market. Not only will you enjoy forgetting about fuel prices, but you will feel better knowing that a leisurely cruise around the lake is not harming marine life or the environment.
- Features- Modern outboard motors are equipped with various additional features to make a seamless user experience. For instance, you may enjoy an electric start over the need to pull-start your engine. And a powered tilt function is more convenient than having to do so manually.
PRO-TIP: The length of the outboard motor shaft should match the measured height of the back of your boat’s transom- to get this
measurement, take a measuring tape from the top center of the boat’s transom to the bottom.
Other Costly Considerations
In addition to the Quick Buying Guide I just shared with you, the price of an outboard motor will also depend on whether it is a two-stroke or four-stroke engine and what type of fuel injection system it utilizes.
Though two-stroke engines were the norm for outboard engines, manufacturers have since designed four-stroke engines to be quieter, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient.
Two-stroke engines require you to pre-mix its fuel and oil, similar to other small engine applications you may have experienced. However, four-stroke outboard motors have separate fuel and oil compartments like an automobile engine due to their combustion/power cycle difference.
Four-stroke outboards will have a heftier price tag off the line because they are heavier, more durable, and have more moving parts- and more moving parts mean they are more complicated to manufacture and maintain.
The next pivotal consideration for your wallet when selecting a boat motor will be its type of fuel injection. You can choose between a carburated design, a direct fuel injection, or an electronic fuel injection system in either the two-stroke or four-stroke motor.
Conventional marine motors came equipped with carburetors, but now boat owners are much happier with the quick-start and optimal performance prescribed by using either a direct fuel injection (DFI) or electronic fuel injection system (EFI).
Again if you were to base a decision strictly on counting dollars, carburated engines are the less expensive alternative. However, please be aware that emissions regulations in your state may not allow you to put these high-emission motors on their waterways.
DFI and EFI are the cleaner way to go, and their respective fuel injection modes beat trying to make minor adjustments with an old screwdriver any day.
Top 3 Outboard Motor Brands And Cost
Some of the most popular outboard engine manufacturers include Evinrude, Honda, Mercury, Minn Kota, Seven Marine, Suzuki, Tohatsu, Torqeedo, and Yamaha.
To give you a broad overview of marine outboard motor prices, I will present three brands, each offering different performance, use, sustainability, and price points.
Torqeedo: Leading The Electric Outboard Motor Industry
I am a firm believer that we need to care for the world around us, even if that means restricting our desires. Boating is a privilege, and although becoming more affordable to middle-income families, it is still not one that the majority of the world can even consider.
As an avid outdoorsman, I love how Torqeedo propelled the concept of electromobility into the marine world. The Torqeedo company offers sustainable solutions to satisfy all boating needs while caring for our earth’s marine wildlife and waterways.
- Outboard Motor Lines: Ultralight, Travel, Cruise, and Deep Blue Performance Rating: from 1 HP to 80 HP
- Intended Use: Kayaks, Canoes, Dinghies, Sailboats, and Motorboats
- Sustainability: NO Emissions- no exhaust, contamination, or leaks
- Price Range: from $2,000 to $22,000 (motor only)- batteries, chargers, solar panels, and other accessories sold separately
Mercury Marine: Where Family Heritage Meets Racing Performance
With over 80 years in the game, Mercury Marine is no stranger in the boating community. However, this company prides itself on performance standards that top the best in the industry.
Whether you are looking for a low-power solution to propel you across the pond or are an adrenaline junkie with the need for speed, Mercury Marine has an outboard solution for you.
- Outboard Motor Lines: Four-Stroke, Jet, SeaPro, Pro Xs, and Verado
- Performance Rating: from 2.5 HP to 600 HP (please visit MercuryRacing for their racing lineup)
- Intended Use: Tillers, Jon Boats, Skiffs, Sailboats, Ski boats, Motorboats, Inflatables, Pontoons, Tritoons, Catamarans, Fishing Boats, Luxury Yachts, Racing Boats
- Sustainability: According to its 2020 Sustainability Report, Mercury Marine holds “a threestar, Ultra Low Emissions, rating from the California Air Resources Board (CARB),” even on their V6 and V8 outboard motor options.
- Price Range: from $1,000 to an estimated $77,000 (motor only)- price does not include accessories or engines from their exclusive racing lineup.
Evinrude: A Product of Determination, Humbleness, and Will
With the most extended history out of the three brands I have detailed, Evinrude has seen its share of ups and downs in the 110 years of its existence.
Nevertheless, success is a product of failure. When an individual or larger entity humbles itself to accept its mistakes as a pathway for improvement, then you begin to lay the foundation for an unforgettable legacy.
Keeping legacy in mind, Evinrude has decided to discontinue its manufacturing of outboard engines as they seek to look for other methods of marine power systems that will propel its name into the future.
That said, there are still plenty of dealers selling Evinrude motors, and the company is also committed to its warranty, parts, and service responsibilities.
- Outboard Motor Lines: Portables, MFE, Jet, Pontoon, E-TEC, and E-TEC G2
- Performance Rating: from 3.5 HP to 300 HP
- Intended Use: Fishing Boats, Deckboats, Ski Boats, Fishing Boats, Pontoon Boats, Inflatables, and Motorboats.
- Sustainability: The Green Masters Program has recognized Evinrude for its sustainability efforts and industry-leading accomplishments for multiple years.
- Price Range: from $1,495 to $34,000 (motor only)
You are now better equipped to decide on the most suitable motor for your boat. Remember to reference the considerations presented in the Quick Buying Guide and use due diligence when deciding between a two- or four-stroke engine.
You will also need to filter your motor choice according to the fuel injection system. Try to leave some flexibility in your boat motor budget because the price is not always an exact science for significant investments.
Please look over this article a few times as you continue your boat motor search, and do not hesitate to leave your questions or concerns about marine outboard motor costs in the comment section below.
Joseph Fabiano is a writer, nature enthusiast, and stay-at-home father of two wild and free boys. He enjoys starting his day with a good run, hot mug of coffee, and a jump in the Ionian Sea, no matter the weather. Currently based in the Apuglia region of southern Italy, he enjoys discovering the world with his best traveling buddies (his little monkey’s and beautiful wife) at every given opportunity. Every trip, long or far, should be made an adventure according to Joseph as he believes inspiration and creation is right in front of you.