Review: Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO outboard

By: Kevin Smith, Photography by: Kevin Smith

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

How does the Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO outboard engine rate? We sent Kevin Smith to find out.

Gazing from a distance, I couldn’t help but notice something different about the Evinrude E-TEC sitting proudly on the back of the latest Savage 585 C. Ah, new decals on the cowl – that looks pretty cool! Up close, I scanned the motor for a closer look at the new Evinrude decal; neither too plain nor too out there. It’s amazing how the addition of few colours can totally change the look of an engine – and I liked it.

Then I was dealt a surprising blow, after foolishly assuming that the motor was something it was not. I mean, it was a V4 block so it had to be either the 115hp or 130hp, right? Just with a cosmetic adjustment. Well, when my eyes went back to the "HP" decal for a second time, I discovered a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This was a 90hp, and I nearly fell over backwards.




Now keep in mind most outboard engine brands produce different rated horsepower motors from much the same engines. When it comes to the E-TECs and in particular the V4s, BRP produces the 115hp, 115-HO (High Output), 130hp, and now the latest 90hp HO. How does that work, you might wonder? Well firstly, you need to realise that with these very technologically-advanced modern engines, you can’t just whip off the cowl and take it to with a pair of pliers for a quick fix.

Using computerised technology, these motors have specifically designed mapping systems enabling the tap of a laptop button to (literally) change fuel flows, timing and torque curve, which in turn change horsepower ratings. In most cases though, the litre capacity of the motor, pistons and bore size still stays the same.

So back to the new 90hp V4 Evinrude E-TEC. Why add this motor to the range, considering Evinrude already has the in-line 90hp three-cylinder E-TEC, which will not be replaced by the V4? I was a bit confused initially too, but after a few days pondering, I saw the light (I might be slow sometimes, but eventually I get there …!)


115hp E-TEC vs 90hp E-TEC

Evinrude E-TEC 90 outboard motor

In previous years I’ve run a 90hp Evinrude E-TEC three-cylinder and currently run the E-TEC 115hp V4, and I’m not afraid to declare that I love my 115 E-TEC much more than the 90hp. But after a squirt on the new V4 90-HO it was like running the 115 again, the three-cylinder being no match in a number of ways.

Yes, it’s heavier than the three-cylinder E-TEC 90 (around 30kg, which is a fair amount), but in hindsight that’s not bad, as competing 90s come in at a similar weight and once you’ve added a 100 A/H battery to the back of your boat, that’s an extra 30kg anyway.

Next I noticed a massive difference in the overall smoothness of the motor. Starting is instantaneous whether hot or cold, and at idle the new 90-HO E-TEC just purrs on the transom with a deep pleasant tone.

The E-TEC 90-HO further offers substantial torque from holeshot through to mid-range, where the exhaust valves open up and all hell breaks loose. You find yourself at WOT very quickly from a standing start, thanks to the 1727 cubic centimetres shunting it along.  As tested, this 90-HO was fitted up on one of Telwater’s new Savage 585s – not the smallest of boats – and man, I was super impressed with its performance. A top end over 32kts is bloody good going for a 90hp on this hull in my opinion.

To top it all off, the new Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO offers a high output alternator (variable voltage, computer controlled 133Amp/1800W output with regulator of which 50Amp is dedicated to battery charging), a multi-point oiling system for improved lubrication at low speeds and to increase engine life, a three-star carb clean emission rating along with a factory backed five year extended limited warranty with no dealer scheduled maintenance.




So is there a future for the new Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO? By all means, yes, as its definitely going to appeal to those with boats rated to 90hp, and especially those currently running the in-line three-cylinder 90 E-TEC or similar, if weight allows. I would expect to see a number of these 90-HO’s appearing on the smaller bass-styled boats or similar. Anyone wanting exhilarating performance is sure to find it with one of these motors strapped on the rear.

Besides the performance junkies, the 90-HO would also be a good option for smaller skiboats, as it definitely has the holeshot to suit hauling heavier than average skiers out of the water.

On the fishing side, again it’s a good option, as tested on the 585 Savage.

It had the guts and the glory to push that boat around with ease and something that always impresses me with these E-TEC engines is the economical fuel consumption at low revs – well suited to long days of trolling offshore.

So when it comes to favourably comparing outboards with outboards, BRP have gone down the right road (or up the right river) with the new Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO.

From low down to top end, weighting and fuel consumption, it’s definitely a worthwhile motor to consider when looking at new two or four-stroke technology of the same horsepower.

While the 90-HO is by no means the cheapest of the pack, it’s still a bit cheaper than the 115hp E-TEC and to be honest, I’d be just happy with that motor as I am with the 115hp.  



PRICE Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO 20in (long shaft) $16,168; Evinrude E-TEC 90-HO 25in (ultra-long shaft) $16,439

TYPE Loop-charged V4 60in E-TEC direct-injection outboard motor

WEIGHT 177kg long shaft/184kg ultra-long shaft


CYL / RPM 4 cylinders / 5500 to 6000rpm

GEAR RATIO 2.0:1 (short shaft)/2.25:1 (ultra-long shaft)


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See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #451, April / May 2014. Why not subscribe today?


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