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Middleweight contenders

The 115 HO is one of three new Evinrude outboards for the 2020 model year.

The 115 HO is one of three new Evinrude outboards for the 2020 model year.

Bucking the current bigger is better trend in outboard motors, for the 2020 model year, Evinrude is introducing three new outboards rated at 115, 140 and 150 hp, all built on a 1.9-liter inline 3-cylinder aluminum block.

The engines have been designed to be easier to rig and easier to drive with electronic shift and throttle, automatic trim, digital instrumentation and custom cowling colors. “We’re bringing that bigger boat user experience down to smaller boats,” says Karl Sandstrom, owner of Sandstrom Marine Consulting and a former product manager for BRP.

Tracy Crocker, president of BRP Marine, said Evinrude has identified the segment of the marine industry that would be ideal for outboards of this size including fishing and pontoon boats and runabouts. In the past year, the company has purchased Alumacraft, Manitou and Telwater boats from Australia, all manufacturers of aluminum boats.

“A great place to start is an industry that’s this big that has a sweet spot that’s $20 billion and growing,” says Crocker. He says that Evinrude has about 3.7 percent of the outboard market share and focusing on heart of the market instead of the high-horsepower segment will help them increase that share.

The new in-line three-cylinder Evinrude block has a bore and stroke of 3.854 inches by 3.25 inches. The 115 HO with a 20” shaft has an estimated weight of 390 pounds and the 25” shaft 150 weighs 430 pounds. The lightest version of Mercury’s 115 Pro XS FourStroke is listed at 359 pounds, while the 150-hp model tips the scales at 456 pounds. Yamaha’s F115 is an in-line four-cylinder that starts at 377 pounds while the F150 with a 20” shaft weighs 478 pounds.

EV 115 HO Blazer 3

Only Evinrude uses direct fuel injection in a motor of this size range. In this system, each cylinder has its own high-pressure injector. The new models were designed using computational fluid dynamics to improve combustion inside the cylinder. The system uses stratified fuel, which is broken down into a finer mist, resulting in more complete combustion and reduced emissions. Sandstrom says that the second generation E-TEC motors have 30 percent more torque than the first models and between 15 and 50 percent better fuel economy. Emissions are rated at 75 percent lower and Sandstrom says that if emissions regulations become more restrictive, Evinrude is prepared to meet those numbers without needing a catalytic converter.

Because it can be a challenge to get an inline engine with an odd number of cylinders to run smoothly, Evinrude installed balance gears on the top and bottom of the crankshaft. Think of it like a harmonic balancer on the crankshaft of an inboard or stern drive engine. The lower motor mounts are also set at a 25 to 30-degree angle to isolate vibration. One of the operating traits that Evinrude has been challenged to improve by customers is running noise with its current generation E-TECs and those concerns have been addressed with the new motors. I ran a 115 HO with a tiller on an Alumacraft and the 140 and 150 on other boats and the motors were as quiet as any four-stroke I’ve operated. Additionally, the holeshot and mid-range punch were potent.

The motors’ 1.9-gallon two-stroke oil tank should last for about 50 hours, which is a typical season of use for most people. The midsection is new and no longer has a setback. It can be set up for cable, external hydraulic or available power steering that has to be ordered from the factory. Power steering adds about 25 pounds to the engine weight.

The motors’ gearcase features a new shape and different water pickups and Evinrude has designed two new stainless-steel propellers for the motors, the RX3 and RX4.

With a more compact design, the new motors can be installed on 26” centers, which makes them a good candidate for twins on a narrow-beam boat such as a re-power on an older center console. Evinrude has developed a sensor plate to convert mechanical controls to digital shifting and it can be retrofit.

Instead of the removable side panels on the second generation E-TECs, the new motors have a two-piece cowling that latches at the front. Owners can get the motor in white or graphite and colored side panels are available as an option.

For gauges, Evinrude offers the Nautilus, a 3.5-inch diameter instrument plus 7.0-inch and 4.3-inch digital iCommand screens. The company has recently made the motors compatible with Simrad and Lowrance. They already have been working with Garmin and in the future, engine information will be displayed on Humminbird and Raymarine/FLIR products. As far as joystick compatibility, Sandstrom would only say, “Stay tuned.”


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