Evinrude's New E-TEC 150 Is the Most Efficient Boat Engine We've Ever Seen

More than 12 mpg from a boat? Yes, with this direct-injected three-cylinder 150.

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Engine: inline direct-injected two-stroke 3-cylinder, 1.9 liters / Power output: 115 H.O., 140 or 150 HP / Lower Unit: 20" or 25" / Best fuel economy: (Key West 203) 12.5 mpg at 1,000 rpm / Steering: mechanical cable, external hydraulic, digital power steering or tiller / Oil tank: 1.9 gallons, good for 50-60 hours / Maintenance interval: Five years or 500 hours.

If you, like me, enjoy nerding out on outboard motors, then prepare to indulge your inner marine-propulsion geek with this news of Evinrude's new 150-horsepower E-TEC G2. With outboards, they're pretty much all reliable these days. And horsepower is horsepower (unless you're cheating it a bit, which I'll get to). So what's the big deal with this new three-cylinder?

Well, how about 12.5 miles per gallon? Sure, that's at six miles per hour or so, but boats spend most of their time (40 percent) at idle, and 12 mpg makes this the Prius of outboards. The G2's maintenance schedule is also unlike anything else on the water: five years or 500 hours between tuneups. Since this is a two-stroke, you don't even do oil changes, and the onboard 1.9 gallon tank is good for 50 to 60 hours.

I'd probably buy an E-TEC for the lack of maintenance alone. In fact, I did. I have a 2009 G1 150, which visits the dealer every three years or 300 hours, and it runs like a champ. It can fog its cylinders and winterize itself. But the one this it's missing is this new engine's oh-so-sweet 12 mpg.

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Thrifty.
Ezra Dyer

E-TEC engines are all about simplicity: no oil changes, barely any maintenance, great fuel economy.

Also, in the case of the sleds, that trick is designed to save weight, and the outboards are already lighter than just about anything else. My G1—a 2.6-liter V6—is so light that it actually screwed up my boat's weight distribution, which was designed with a much heavier Suzuki in mind. If the boat is going to sit at a dock for a while, I throw a sandbag on the transom to make sure water drains to the stern.

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Steering options include digital power steering (shown), manual cable, hydraulic or tiller.
Ezra Dyer

But back the the new G2. It comes in 115 HP high-output, 140 horsepower and 150 horsepower flavors. The 115 H.O. and 140 are differentiated mainly by tuning, while the 150 enjoys a trick piece of extra hardware: the RAVE, or Rotax Adjustable Valve Exhaust. This is an electronically controlled blade on the exhaust port that enables variable exhaust port timing and variable compression. The fact that the 150 required the RAVE valve to hit its power rating is a clue that this 150 is honestly at about 150 horsepower, as opposed to, say, my old 150 V6, which cheated the 10-percent allowable variation on horsepower ratings for all it was worth.

Nonetheless, in Evinrude's testing on a Key West 203, the G2 150 outran the same boat with a Yamaha 150 by 3.5 mph at cruise speed while getting 17 to 20 percent better fuel economy. Top speed was nearly identical, with the ETEC claiming 48.3 mph to the Yamaha's 47.7 mph.

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Clean.
Ezra Dyer

Now let's delve into that cruise speed difference. That comes down to the two-stroke's monster midrange power. In fact, Evinrude pointed out (or admitted?) that its 225 H.O. engine actually makes 265 horsepower. How is that legal? Because it does it at 4,500 rpm and the official engine horsepower is rated at 5,500 or 6,000 rpm. So you have this great midrange acceleration and an easy time running at cruise speed even when your boat's all loaded up.

The three-cylinder G2 definitely isn't as punchy as the V6 150, but given the fuel economy and drastic noise reduction, I think it's more than a fair trade. Incidentally, at 1,000 rpm the Yamaha is getting 6.1 mpg to the Evinride's 12.5 mpg. Fishermen take note of how that might impact a weekend of trolling.

Given the likelihood of tightening emissions standards, higher fuel prices or both, it seems like a canny move to focus on fuel economy for the mainstream runabout engines. Evinrude says that the new three-cylinder is so thrifty and clean that it probably wouldn't need a catalytic converter when everyone else would.

Evinrude still offers the 150 horsepower G1, so if my engine blows up I could just swap on a new one that's a direct replacement. But the new G2 150 would be an intriguing option. Half the cylinders, even less maintenance, better fuel economy. Now all they need is a high-output version.

Less is more, but I still want more, too.

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