While most TAHOE®
boats come standard with a factory-installed
sterndrive engine, select models are equipped with
Each power type has its own benefits and best applications. Which is right
To start, look at the following descriptions of the two power options.
An outboard is a specialized marine engine that uses components designed for
marine use only. It is bolted/clamped to the boat's transom and turns to provide
A sterndrive (also known as an inboard/outboard or I/O) typically uses a marine-adapted
automotive engine just inside the hull at the transom. It drives a mechanism
that looks and operates similar to the lower unit and steering operation of
an outboard. Because the drive unit projects from the stern, it’s called a
sterndrive. Since the sterndrive combines the components of an inboard-type
engine with an outboard-type drive, it may also be called inboard/outboard
An I/O should not be confused with an "inboard" motor.
A true inboard engine is typically mounted midship with a fixed driveshaft
and propeller, angled through the bottom of the hull well forward of the transom.
A separate rudder does the steering.
outboard has a higher power-to-weight ratio, meaning it is lighter than a sterndrive
of similar performance capability. If you have a smaller, lighter tow vehicle,
you can "pack more power" with an outboard. Outboards offer quicker acceleration
and higher top speeds than similarly powered sterndrives, but fuel economy
may not be as good. Since the engine is mounted outside the boat on the transom,
interior room is unobstructed. However, because of this same setup, there's
usually only room for smaller swim platforms on both sides of the engine. Since
all parts of an outboard system are designed for marine use and can be easily
flushed, they are generally more corrosion resistant than inboard engines,
and, therefore, more suited for saltwater use. And, because there is no closed
cooling system, an outboard can be used throughout the cold weather months
without the cost and inconvenience of winterizing or the danger of freezing.
sterndrive's inboard engine is entirely enclosed within the hull. This gives
sterndrive-powered boats a sleeker, cleaner look above the water line, though
interior storage capacity can be somewhat reduced. This setup also allows unobstructed
views to the rear, and the swim platform can run the full width of the boat.
With its heavier engine mounted right inside the transom, sterndrives can be
somewhat slower to get up on plane but are usually more fuel efficient. For
water sports, sterndrives tend to produce bigger wakes and a lot of low-end
torque, which is just what the family’s water sports enthusiast ordered. Sterndrives
also offer the familiarity and lower parts prices of an automotive-style engine,
but can be a little harder to access inside the boat. Since the freshwater
cooling system is also automotive based, the engine block and manifolds must
be drained before winter. In an effort to make this job easier, MerCruiser®
an easy drain on many engines helps get the water out.
Now that you know the basics, consult with your dealer to find what type of
power best suits your needs. Whichever direction you choose, you’re in for
plenty of high-powered on-the-water fun!