Outboard motors dominate today’s boating market. And with good reason. Today’s outboards are powerful, quiet, reliable, easy to service, and offer excellent power-to-weight ratios, as well as outstanding corrosion resistance. American boaters can choose from more than 180 models (not counting shaft length variants), all four strokes, from manufacturers such as Honda Marine, Mercury Marine, Suzuki Marine, Yamaha Outboards, and others, many in a choice of colors.
Horsepower ratings range from 2.3 to a whopping 600 ponies. Advanced technology abounds, with many models featuring electronic throttle and shift, electric steering, digital integration with your marine electronics, wireless connections to apps that let you view key functions, and more. While many boaters might narrow their search to the best outboard motor for the money, we instead built this list to showcase the best outboards available.
If you own an outboard motor, then you probably already know what you like in terms of brand and horsepower. But, on the other hand, you might be interested to learn about other great outboard motors, in case you buy a second boat or want to repower with the latest outboard technology. With this in mind, we looked at three outboard categories—portables, midsize and big outboards—and highlighted models from the major outboard brands that reflect some of the most notable and innovative engineering and features in each class.
Choosing an outboard motor for your boat is an important decision. Here, then, are 15 of today’s best outboard motors, ordered by horsepower from low to high, defaulting to alphabetical order for like power ratings.
Portable Outboard Motors
Honda Marine BF5
Portability, performance and reliability are the hallmarks of the Honda Marine BF5 tiller-steer outboard model, a motor that’s ideal for small boats and dinghies. The BF5 is equipped with a 0.4-gallon internal fuel tank, the largest in its class. This single cylinder outboard is also easy to pull-start, thanks to a decompression system that bleeds off cylinder pressure to reduce the pulling force. Weighing about 60 pounds, the BF5 is equipped with a 127cc overhead-cam engine that features an Oil Alert system that indicates any drop in oil pressure, automatically limiting the engine speed to 2,300 rpm. The Honda BF5 is available with an optional charging system with a capacity of 6 amps at 12 volts to power electronic devices on board.
Suzuki Marine DF9.9B
This portable outboard is the only motor in its class with electronic fuel injection for easy starting, strong acceleration and smooth operation at all engine speeds. Even more impressive is that Suzuki DF9.9B’s EFI system does not require a battery. The two-cylinder 327cc overhead-cam engine also features Suzuki’s proven Lean Burn Control System for outstanding fuel efficiency from low idle speeds well up into the cruising range. Weighing 108 pounds (20-inch model), this motor is available with electric or manual start with a decompression system for easy pull-starts. Suzuki’s class-leading 327cc displacement delivers plenty of torque for pushing inflatables, small fishing boats and more. Power tilt and trim is optional.
Yamaha Outboards High-Thrust T9.9
The Yamaha T9.9 is one of today’s smallest and lightest high-thrust 9.9 hp outboard motors and serves a perfect kicker outboard for a variety of boats. Weighing 102 pounds (20-inch model), the T9.9′s 212cc, two-cylinder, overhead-cam engine provides smooth, reliable power and torque with outstanding fuel efficiency. Yamaha’s patented dual-thrust propeller offers robust forward and reverse thrust. Shallow Water Drive System or Power Tilt allows the operator to raise the outboard during low-speed operation or fully tilt the outboard up. A freshwater flushing device at the front of the outboard allows for easy maintenance and increased longevity. Resting pads enhance storage capability.
Mercury Marine 20 EFI FourStroke
Designed for anglers, recreational boaters and commercial operators, the Mercury 20 hp FourStroke features battery-free electronic fuel injection for reliable starting, instant throttle response, strong performance and superb fuel efficiency. Weighing in at 99 pounds, this outboard model is among the lightest in its class. Available with electric start, this engine is designed with ease of maintenance, featuring a clean, no-drip, no-spill oil-drain system. The 20 hp EFI FourStroke features an award-winning multi-function tiller handle, offering ambidextrous operation. Its vertical down-stop is adjustable to accommodate specific boat layouts and transoms.
Midsize Outboard Motors
Mercury Racing 60R
The only outboard motor in its class available as a 15-inch model, the Mercury Racing 60R fits perfectly on the transom of flats skiffs and other small high-performance boats. Featuring a high-thrust gearcase, this outboard motor is geared to deliver strong hole-shot for jumping on plane in shallow water. The smallest outboard motor in the Mercury Racing line, it features a four-cylinder, 1.0-liter long-stroke powerhead tuned for torque. Wide-open throttle range is extended to 6,300 rpm to maximize acceleration and enable more propping options. Weighing in at 268 pounds, it can accommodate a lower poling platform while eliminating the need for a jack plate
Known for delivering strong fuel efficiency and long-run reliability, Suzuki’s DF70A pushed a 17-foot Hell’s Bay flats skiff to victory in the 2021 Florida Skiff Challenge, a non-stop, 1,300-mile race around the entire Florida coastline. This four-cylinder engine features dual overhead cams, four-valves-per-cylinder and electronic fuel injection with Suzuki’s Lean Burn Control. Weighing 343 pounds and boasting 9.17 liters of displacement, it’s the only motor in the class with an offset driveshaft for better weight distribution and balance on the transom. Suzuki’s two-stage gear reduction and 2.59:1 gear ratio delivers snappy acceleration and top-end performance. This motor also features a self-adjusting and self-lubricating timing chain and powerful 27-amp alternator for tech-laden boats.
Yamaha Outboards F70
Yamaha’s F70 outboard motor is perfect for family fishing and fun. Weighing 253 pounds, it’s the lightest in class and delivers quick starts, high performance and efficiency for aluminum fishing boats, pontoons and fiberglass boats. This 1.0-liter engine also boasts the best horsepower-per-liter ratio in its class. It offers four-valve-per-cylinder and single cam design with electronic fuel injection. A high gear-ratio and 6,300 rpm wide-open throttle rating combine with a compact single-throttle valve and long-track induction system for maximum power and thrust. The F70 integrates with Yamaha’s CL5 and CL7 touchscreen displays.Yamaha’s Multi-Function tiller handle is also an option for the F70.
Honda Marine BF90
Inspired by the engine of the Honda Fit car, the BF90′s 1.5-liter, 16-valve four-cylinder features multi-port electronic fuel injection. Weighing 359 pound (20-inch model), it comes with a multi-function display and an optional tiller handle that includes a larger shift lever, a power trim and tilt switch, handle height adjustment and trolling-speed control. The patented Blast system advances ignition timing during hard acceleration for powerful hole shots, while a Lean Burn Control system adjusts the air/fuel mixture to maximize fuel efficiency at cruise. A three-way cooling system promotes long-term durability. Honda’s Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) improves torque and power at higher rpm.
Mercury Marine 115 hp Pro XS
The 115 hp Pro XS has been powering bass boaters and other performance enthusiasts since its launch in 2016. Built on the proven 2.1-liter four-cylinder platform, this outboard motor lives up to the Pro XS reputation for hole shot, top-end speed, and durability. It delivers outstanding zero-to-20 mph heavy-load acceleration and a blistering top speed. At 359 pounds, it’s the lightest weight high-output engine in its class. In addition, the 115 hp Pro XS features the Idle-Charge Battery Management system, ensuring peace of mind for a full day on the water. Available with the standard or larger Command Thrust gearcase, this outboard motor is perfect for boaters looking to maximize performance on their bass boats, multi-species boats, bay boats and pontoons.
Big Outboard Motors
Honda Marine BF250
The flagship of the Honda outboard line, the BF250 outboard motor integrates an innovative design, a sleek progressive V-form style, improved corrosion resistance, streamlined maintenance, and an expanded number of rigging options. Weighing 622 pounds (25-inch model), the 3.58-liter V-6 is available with either Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST) or electronic controls or mechanical controls. Technological innovations include Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC), Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) to delivers precise amounts of fuel and air to each cylinder, Boosted Low Speed Torque (BLAST) to increase performance and acceleration; and Lean Burn Control to maximize fuel efficiency in cruise mode. The motor also features digital line redundancy for added protection against connection failure.
Yamaha Outboards F300 Offshore
Yamaha’s updated F300 Offshore Digital Electronic Control (DEC) model features Digital Electric Steering (DES) and Thrust Enhancing Reverse Exhaust (TERE) and other XTO Offshore-inspired features. Fast and precise Digital Electric Steering (DES) draws battery amperage only when active. The 4.2-liter EFI V-6 incorporates Thrust Enhancing Reverse Exhaust (TERE) that allows the propeller to bite clean water for strong reverse thrust. Yamaha’s TotalTilt function allows complete tilt up from any position with a double push of the “UP” button, or full tilt down with a double push of the “down” button. Weighing 562 pounds (25-inch model), F300 has a color-matched lower unit, an upgraded one-piece top cowling with water-draining air duct molding and a new bottom cowling.
Suzuki Marine DF350A
Suzuki’s flagship DF350A was the first outboard to feature dual contra-rotating propellers for superior hole shot and strong acceleration for today’s larger and heavier boats. It also improves top-end speed and enhances low-speed maneuvering. Weighing 727 pounds (25-inch model), this 4.4-liter V-6 features dual fuel injectors for better power output and fuel efficiency, a self-adjusting oil-bathed timing chain with Variable Valve Timing for performance and durability, a dual-louver direct air intake to provide cooler, denser air for more powerful combustion, and Suzuki’s Lean Burn Control technology for optimum efficiency. The drive-by-wire Suzuki Precision Control system delivers silky smooth shifting and instant throttle response, along with a wide range of advanced features for anglers and boaters.
Yamaha Outboards XTO Offshore
The 425 hp XTO Offshore 5.6-liter V-8 outboard motor combines power, reliability, system integration, control and convenience. The first four-stroke outboard to use direct fuel injection, the XTO Offshore sprays fuel at high pressure directly into the combustion chamber, rather than the intake track, improving atomization and increasing fuel burn effectiveness to maximize power and efficiency. Weighing 952 pounds (25-inch model), this outboard motor also features integrated electric steering, eliminating hydraulic lines, fluid and linkages. It allows for clean rigging and an orderly bilge. The XTO provides up to 96 amps (net) at idle and reaches peak output around 1,500 rpm. It is compatible with Yamaha’s Helm Master joystick control system.
Mercury Racing 450R
The hand-craft 450R has elevated the definition of outboard motor performance. Boosted by an exclusive supercharger, the 4.6-liter V-8 FourStroke powerhead delivers 450 peak horsepower—40 percent more torque than the powerful 400R. Weighing 689 pounds, it is 300 pounds lighter than the nearest competitor. The exclusive Mercury Racing Advanced Mid Section (AMS) features heavy-duty stainless-steel guide plates and stiffened engine mounts that stabilize the outboard and enhance high-speed handling. An optional rear tie-bar bracket integral to the AMS provides a strong, ultra-light mounting point and uncluttered installation for catamaran and other high-speed applications. The 450R outboard is backed by a three-year limited factory warranty and a three-year limited corrosion warranty, the same as Mercury mainline outboards.
Mercury Marine V12 Verado
The new V12 Verado is in a class of its own, providing the ultimate boating experience for customers. Incorporating industry-first innovations, the 600 hp Verado includes a two-speed transmission, steerable gearcase, and 7.6-liter V-12 powerhead that differentiate it from any other outboard motor. Weighing 1,260 pounds, the V12 is Mercury’s quietest high horsepower engine ever built. Contra-rotating propellers maximize thrust and ease low-speed maneuvering. Maintenance has also been simplified—service intervals have been extended and all regular maintenance points are accessible via the top cowl service hood, meaning the top cowl does not need to be removed for 1,000 hours or five years. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Mercury V12 Verado establishes a new benchmark for marine propulsion.