The new Four Winns HD 220 OB has a trunk for your junk. When the Michigan boatbuilder converted its 22-foot HD 220 from sterndrive to outboard power, it was left with an empty space where the engine used to be. After considering a number of options, Four Winns decided to simply throw down a floor and let the owner figure out how to best exploit a space bigger than the trunk of a 1967 Buick Electra.
The big storage space is one reason to consider the outboard-powered version of this boat — Four Winns continues to offer the HD 220 with sterndrive power — but it’s not the most compelling benefit. Built-in outboard advantages include quieter operation, easier maintenance and winterization, lighter weight and — potentially — more space in the boat. Four Winns could have eliminated the motor-box structure and opened up the aft cockpit of this boat. However, that structure also serves as the base for the aft-facing seat over the transom, a nice feature in its own right. So the motor box stays, and we get that deep stowage space, which is reached by lifting the aft seat from the swim platform and measures about 5 feet by 3 feet by 28 inches deep.
The conversion of the HD 220 to outboard power involved much more than simply slapping a motor on the transom. The hull is modified to incorporate a set-back bracket for the outboard, which preserves much of the swim platform and keeps the motor from intruding on that aft-facing seat. The HD 220 OB also has a specific running surface, with a pad keel in place of the sharp keel found on the HD 220. Four Winns says the pad accommodates the change in weight distribution and enhances performance with outboard power. Of course, we concur, because a flat pad is going to provide more lift. We clocked the HD 220 OB at a top speed of 50.4 mph with an Evinrude E-TEC G2 250 on the transom. There was a bit of prop slip in turns, perhaps because the motor is set so far back, but that setup also gives the prop great trim leverage, and the HD 220 OB really aired out when we trimmed to get the last 500 rpm of top speed. The ride in some stiff lake chop was outstanding, and this all-fiberglass boat feels solid. The HD 220 OB offers the comfort of a larger boat.
We were surprised by the harsh sound levels produced by the two-stroke Evinrude. Compared to four-stroke options, this is a noisy outboard, producing 86 to 88 db at cruising speed. We also ran an HD 220 OB with a Mercury Verado 250 and measured 78 to 81 db between 3,500 and 4,500 rpm, a huge difference on the logarithmic decibel scale. Where the Evinrude delivers on is acceleration. Thrust is immediate, and time to 25 mph is 50 percent faster than the Merc — 5.45 seconds versus 8.1 seconds. The Verado was also about 2 mph slower in top speed, but it is also about $4,700 cheaper on the spec sheet.
The main cockpit of the HD 220 OB features L-shaped seating aft and bucket seats at the consoles. There is a wide walkway from the swim platform, making this boat super-functional whether swimming, enjoying watersports, or socializing at the marina or sandbar. A head compartment is fashioned into the port console, making daylong jaunts on the water worry-free affairs. A carry-on cooler is stashed below the port seat, but it’s pretty deep and will be a back-breaker to lift in and out if it’s loaded with ice and beverages. Some sort of base to elevate it would help.
A broad bow with lots of legroom and a boarding platform defines a modern deck boat, and Four Winns has executed those features to perfection. There’s room for four forward, a broad platform covered in nonskid, and a long, four-step ladder that will reach the beach. Optional showers at the bow and stern ($231) will be handy for rinsing off sandy feet.
Our test boat was equipped with an optional Raymarine A77 plotter ($146) front and center on the dash and a 3-inch Evinrude digital speedometer/tach display to the right. A remote control for the Kicker audio system is on the lower-left dash panel, but the 12-volt and USB/Aux outlets are placed way down on the inwale below the dash, near the captain’s right foot. There’s no dedicated phone stash either, just a vinyl pocket below the throttle.
Detailing throughout this boat is outstanding, from the neat top-stitched vinyl on the consoles, to the deep lips molded around the seat bases to keep water out of stowage compartments, to the gas struts on the hatch lids. Despite its wide bow, the HD 220 OB looks sleek on the water. If you are an outboard fan, this deck boat offers a pleasing combination of performance and class.
Comparable Model: Sea Ray SDX 220 OB