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08/04/2015
2016 TAHOE 550 TS Outboard — BoatTest.com Captain's Report by Test Captain Eric Colby

Key Features

  • Longer, wider, and deeper hull for bigger and better wakes
  • Powerglide II hull
  • Encapsulated transom with fiberglass-infused, high-density composite core
  • AM/FM Bluetooth-capable stereo with MP3 port and 4 speakers
  • Walkthrough tempered safety glass windshield with aluminum frame
  • Adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats with slide and swivel
  • 2-tone high-density marine-grade vinyl upholstery with stain-resistant coating
  • Premium stainless steel hardware and fasteners
  • Factory-matched trailer with color-matched powder-coat finish

Specifications

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Specifications
Length Overall 19' 10''
6.05 m
Dry Weight 2,395 lbs.
1,086 kg
Beam 94''
2.39 m
Tested Weight 3,099 lbs.
1,406 kg
Draft 15''
0.38 m
Fuel Cap 33 gal.
125 L
Deadrise/Transom 16-deg. Water Cap N/A
Max Headroom open Bridge Clearance N/A
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.

Engine Options

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Engine options
Std. Power 1 x 115-hp Mercury EXLPT 4-stroke
Tested Power 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke The Mercury 150-hp FourStroke outboard became available just 15 months ago, but word is already gett...
Opt. Power 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Captain's Report

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard running shot

TAHOE carries the 550 TS high freeboard from bow to stern, creating deeper seating throughout.

 

Overview

The outboard-powered 550 TS is designed as an alternative to a sterndrive-powered bowrider, and in fact outboards are becoming more popular in this boat class at the expense of sterndrives. It used to be that outboards were substantially more expensive to buy, but thanks to the EPA’s increasingly stringent emissions standards, sterndrives are catching up in cost. Outboard versions usually weigh less, making them easier to tow on a trailer while saving fuel, though they typically burn more fuel on the water.

With the base FourStroke 115-hp, this boat would struggle with a full load of eight passengers and gear, but that may be power adequate if the boat is kept light with just a couple of people and light gear on board. We recommend the optional 150-hp (hp up to 200 is available) Mercury for better acceleration onto plane, especially when towing a boarder or skier, and also to achieve a decent cruise speed.

For her 19'10" (6.05 m) length, the 550 TS cockpit feels deeper than some competitive boats. There’s seating for eight people in the cockpit and bow, and aft is a full-width sundeck over an empty storage compartment where a sterndrive engine would go. She comes standard with an AM/FM Bluetooth stereo, 36-quart (34 L) cooler, ten cup holders, six stainless steel cleats and a single-axle trailer.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard floor plan

The TAHOE 550 TS doesn’t have the seating room in the bow of a deckboat, but it likely has a better ride with a sharper entry at the waterline, as well as improved weight distribution as a result of seating fewer people forward.

 

Features Inspection

 

The Cockpit

Forward in the cockpit, the 550 TS has bucket seats that swivel and adjust fore and aft so that the co-pilot can spin around to observe for watersports. There’s decent legroom between the forward and aft seats and the aft bench has space for at least four people. To starboard, the outboard seat cushion slides aft like a drawer beneath the sundeck base and the cushion for the sundeck folds over it, creating a walkway to the stern. This is smart because it keeps passengers from walking on the upholstery, saving wear and tear. On the stern to port, there’s a wet-storage locker, which drains overboard, and to starboard is a four-step ladder, which projects well under water for easier climbing than a three-step ladder provides.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard bucket seat

The driver seat swivels 180 degrees to face aft while the port bucket seat swivels for observing watersports or just chatting with the backseat passengers. Having the cup holders down low lessens the potential for spills.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard removable cushion

This cushion to starboard cleverly slides aft beneath the sundeck, and the cushion above folds over to create a passage to the stern. There is also storage beneath each cushion.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard ladder

A four-step ladder makes it easier for swimmers to reboard and the grab rail aids the process. At this ladder angle, a swimmer boarding the boat is also further from the prop, a welcome safety bonus.

 

The Helm

The 550 TS dash panel has some noteworthy features. First, even though white-faced instruments are more popular, TAHOE used gray-faced gauges set in a darker gray panel to reduce glare. Additionally, a water pressure gauge, one of the best indicators of an outboard’s health, comes standard.

In the center of the panel is a bungee cord that will hold a cell phone in place and just ahead is a small glovebox with a 12-volt plug. Tilt steering is a $150 upgrade, well worth it for the extra knee room, and to the left of the wheel are the ignition and a 12-volt power plug, while the accessory switches are to starboard.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard helm

The gauges are arranged to be easily seen on each side of the wheel and this boat has the optional depth sounder. Obviously, the white dash will reflect in the windshield.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard fold up bolster seat

In addition to being able to swivel and slide fore and aft, the driver’s seat can be ordered with an optional fold-up bolster which comes in handy by providing a higher seated position.

 

The Bow

The 550 TS’ bow lounges measure 4' (1.22 m) long and there’s decent depth for passengers who sit against the backrests facing forward, though we’d like to see longer or more handholds in this, the most dynamic part of the boat. There are stainless steel grab rails, cup holders and speakers in the gunwales.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard bow seats

The backrests for the bow seats are tall enough so that adults can sit up and feel secure. We’d like to see a cleat on the centerline at the bow to tie off the anchor rode.

 

Storage

Sticking with the 550 TS’ bow area, there’s storage beneath the side cushions and behind the backrests. Additionally, the bow cushion can be pulled aside to access the anchor locker. In the cockpit, there’s a glovebox in the companionway dash that holds the third 12-volt plug.

 

A hatch in the sole between the bucket seats opens to the ski locker, which has enough depth for high-backed ski or board bindings plus brackets for the stern light and cockpit cover poles. The aforementioned cooler has a dedicated spot beneath the center bench seat cushion, there are lockers outboard beneath the cushions and the gunwales have storage trays with bungee cords.

Because this hull is also offered as a sterndrive, there’s a huge locker beneath the sundeck where the engine would be installed.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard anchor locker

The anchor locker has stops for a Danforth-style anchor, and TAHOE provide clips for the anchor stock to hold it in place, and even more importantly, a means for securing the end of the rode inside the anchor locker. To the boat’s credit, at least there is a dedicated anchor locker, something that some entry-level bowriders don’t have.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard bow locker

The bow lockers on each side are molded fiberglass and have shallow gutters to help keep out water.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard bow back rests

Not only do the bow backrests fold up for access to storage, but they’re also removable.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard glove box

The glovebox opens on a tension hinge that holds up the lid.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard ski locker

The lightweight plastic hatch makes it easy to retrieve gear from the ski locker, though this should be considered wet storage with no hatch gutter and drain lines provided.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard cooler storage

By providing dedicated storage for the 36-quart (34 L) cooler, TAHOE ensures that there’s more space left for other gear out in the cockpit.

 

Construction

TAHOE builds the 550 TS with all hand-laid fiberglass in the hull, deck and stringer system. The hull and deck are fastened mechanically and chemically bonded and all voids in the hull and stringers are foam filled to meet the Coast Guard’s requirement for level flotation in boats under 20' (6.10 m). The underside of hatch covers are finished with tooled gelcoat surfaces for easy cleaning. Additionally, the boat is offered in five colors: Black Cherry, Storm Blue, Victory Red, Onyx or Blueberry.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard hull colors

The 550 TS is available in five hull colors including Black Cherry, shown here.

 

Power and Performance

The TAHOE 550 TS has a LOA of 19'10" (6.05 m), a beam of 94" (2.39 m) and a draft of 15" (.38 m). With a weight with motor of 2,395 lbs. (1,086 kg), 50% fuel, test power and three people on board, we had an estimated test weight of 3,099 lbs. (1,406 kg).

TAHOE powers the 550 TS with the standard 115-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard. 150-hp FourStroke, 150 OptiMax Pro XS, 175 OptiMax Pro XS, 200 OptiMax Pro XS and 200 Verado outboard options are also available. We tested the boat with the 150-hp FourStroke turning a Tempest three-blade stainless steel propeller.

 

Top speed was 48.8 mph at 5800 rpm and we burned 13.8 gph for a range of 105 miles. Best cruise was 24 mph at 3000 rpm where the engine burned 3.9 gph, giving the boat a range of 182 miles.

 

Remember that a small boat like this is very sensitive to modest weight additions, so even though our test boat with three people on board performed well, a full load of 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) of people and gear almost doubles the boat’s hull weight of 1,940 lbs. (880 kg). Bottom line—get the maximum power available unless the boat is strictly for a cruising couple.

 

Planing Times. TAHOE calls the 550 TS bottom design the POWERGLIDE II and the manufacturer says the hull has a longer running surface with bottom strakes designed to improve acceleration and turning. Time to plane was 4.5 seconds and we reached 20 mph in 6.1 seconds and 30 mph in 9.3 seconds. In maneuvers, the boat felt nimble and sporty, whipping through S turns and circles without hooking out from under us in a hard turn.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard running shot

With a modest-deadrise bottom designed to add dynamic lift and stability, acceleration also benefits. The 550 TS gets the most out of the 150-hp motor, hitting 48.8 mph.

 

Individual Options to Consider and Pricing

• 150-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard: $2,800 (highly recommended)

• Cranking battery charger: $75

• Depth sounder: $175

• Auto bilge switch: $50

• Bimini top with aluminum frame: $795

• Driver’s seat with bolster: $125

• Tilt steering: $150

• Folding wakeboard tower and racks (includes Bimini top): $2,750

• Single-axle spare tire: $305 (always a good idea as is the upgraded tandem-axle trailer with dual-axle brakes!)

 

Price

• $28,995

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard trailer

The trailer comes with a swing-away tongue to make it easier to fit in a garage or storage unit.

 

Observations

The 150-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard is quiet, fuel efficient and emissions compliant anywhere in North America, Canada and Europe and it provides the power needed for watersports.

At a package weight of 3,291 lbs. (1,493 kg), she can be towed by a wide variety of mid-size vehicles and the trailer is fitted to the boat.

For her 19'10" (6.05 m) length, the boat has good external freeboard and a decent amount o interior coaming height as well for added safety. Overall, we found the fit-and-finish much improved from previous models and the boat has numerous family-friendly details. The standard equipment includes the swiveling and sliding bucket seats, a cooler and stereo system, plus the three 12-volt power plugs, which shows that TAHOE has mastered the art of packaging its boats for the value-conscious family.

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Test Result Highlights

  • Top speed for the Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) is 48.8 MPH (78.5 KPH), burning 13.80 gallons per hour (GPH) or 52.23 liters per hour (LPH).

  • Best cruise for the Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) is 24.0 MPH (38.6 KPH), and the boat gets 6.14 miles per gallon (MPG) or 2.61 kilometers per liter (KPL), giving the boat a cruising range of 182 miles (292.9 kilometers).

  • Tested power is 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels
go to our Test Results section.

Standard and Optional Equipment

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Standard and Optional Equipment
Systems
Battery Charger/Converter Optional
CD Stereo Standard
Trailer Standard
Exterior Features
Swim Ladder Standard
Swim Platform Standard
Tower: Watersports Optional
Canvas
Bimini Top Optional
Cockpit Cover Optional

Standard = Standard Optional = Optional

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Warranty

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to insure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.

Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Price

Tahoe 550 TS Outboard (2016-) Price
Pricing Range $28,995.00
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.