If easy access to the water is important, along with allowing passengers to spread out, the sterndrive is worth considering. On the flip side, you lose space on the back of the boat but gain cockpit space for storage or seating with an outboard model.
Here is something you might not have thought about—trimming the engine. If you want to beach the boat for picnicking or exploring, the engine will need to be trimmed up. You can do that with an outboard but not as much with a sterndrive, which has the outdrive and propeller protruding lower than the boat hull.
What is more, tilting the outboard when not in use allows water to drain out. That is a must when boating in fall/winter to avoid water freezing inside the motor. With a sterndrive, you don’t have such options, making these boats more seasonal.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
With a sterndrive, you get more torque, which is directly proportional to engine displacement. That gives a performance advantage to the sterndrive. Torque has practical advantages, such as keeping the boat on plane at slower speeds or pulling a skier or wakeboarder out of the water.
On the flip side, you get a great holeshot from a performance-designed outboard. Top-end speeds are impressive as well. Outboards are nimble and can be maneuvered in tight places like narrow channels and marinas.
As the name implies, outboards are mounted high and outside of the transom. The motor is visible and easy to access. All it takes is removing the cowling for repairs and maintenance.
A sterndrive mounts in a compartment at the rear of the boat. Reaching some parts requires removing either the engine or outdrive, which takes more skill and knowledge, along with money.
Winterizing an outboard is simple—you can even do it yourself. The task is more difficult with a sterndrive and usually performed by a marine mechanic.
For budget conscious buyers, you will spend less money up-front with outboard power. Outboard models are also affordable and easier to repower if you keep your boat for a long time. You get much of the same longevity with the automotive engine dependability of a sterndrive. The decision comes down to how long you plan to keep the boat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If entertaining family and friends and enjoying watersports is your goal, a sterndrive is hard to beat. If a lower up-front price and long-term maintenance costs are a priority, an outboard is worth considering.
Those are examples of how to decide between sterndrives and outboards. An even better idea is talking to another boater with expertise in both power options. You can find that expert at any Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center. Our sales consultants can answer your questions and guide you to the best boat for your needs.