Deck Boat Horsepower: The Definitive Guide, with 15 Examples

How do we keep everyone on a deck boat happy?

Well, we keep the boat running! Deck boat horsepower isn’t just one of those nice-to-have accessories for your deck boat, it’s an essential element of giving your boat that “get up and go” quality you need. After all, deck boats were made for entertaining, so they need to be able to pick up the pace at a moment’s notice.

Today, let’s get to talking about deck boat horsepower, how important it is and what exactly fuels it. Afterward, we’ll break down specific types of deck boats and the maximum horsepower they can achieve. Now, let’s begin from square one.

The 4 Key Elements of Deck Boat Horsepower

If you’re an amateur boater, or an amateur driver, you might think horsepower is simply a matter of speed. While this might be the case to a certain extent, the horsepower of your engine has more to do with the power the engine contains.

Horsepower is essentially engine performance—it’s indicative of how powerful, reliable and consistent your ride is going to be. Not only does this mean a potentially faster ride the higher you go in numbers, but it means a smoother ride—more dexterity, better performance and more efficient fuel consumption all around.

Beyond that, though, there are going to be some key considerations we need to make when it comes to deck boat horsepower. What else should we be considering?

1. Speed

Of course, the first thing you think about when it comes to horsepower has to be speed. The more important question you need to ask yourself is: How big do I want my deck boat to be? If you plan on hosting family reunions on your boat, you might not only need a bigger boat but also a bigger engine with greater horsepower.

At the same time, a smaller deck boat might be okay with a smaller motor—or a bigger motor if you really want to fly across the water. If you want a boat simply for speed, you need to look elsewhere entirely—a deck boat is ideal when you’re trying to seek out that perfect combination of capacity and speed.

While you might find better capacity but less speed on a pontoon boat, and better speed in a speedboat, you won’t find as generous a contribution of both than in a deck boat—and that’s why we love them.

2. Motor Positioning

There are two types of motor positions typically found on a deck boat. One is a sterndrive motor, where the motor can basically be found within the boat, and the other is an outboard motor. Basically, if you can see the motor by just glancing at a boat, it’s typically an outboard motor.

Sterndrive Motors

Sterndrive motors are known for being more powerful and more user-friendly. They’re easier to repair and easier to retrofit to keep them in working order. The problem with sterndrives is they’re often in self-contained units. For someone like myself, who likes to keep an eye on the motor, this can leave you feeling a bit uneasy about the elements. This is especially true in salt water.

Outboard Motors

Some might tell you outboard motors are just more fun. While they might be for more seasoned boaters, there’s just something so great about having your motor placed on the back of your boat and watching its power in full effect.

Outboard motors also give us that sense of security when we’re finished boating. I’ve always appreciated being able to assess a motor’s condition easily after a journey of any distance. Not only is it easier to remind yourself, since it’s right there, but it allows you to make note of anything that might be “off” compared to when you started the trip. That being said, there’s a little bit more to consider about outboard motors, which we’ll cover in the next point.

3. Two-stroke or Four-stroke

This consideration is only going to apply to those who’ve decided on going with an outboard motor. Technology has come a long way when it comes to these motors, and they’re now available in two different types: Two-stroke or four-stroke.

Two-stroke

Two-stroke motors have better acceleration, and are typically lighter than four-stroke engines. This makes them ideal for “smaller” deck boats—if there is such a thing—where you have fewer people and want to do more in the way of water activities.

Four-stroke

Four-stroke motors, on the other hand, are better suited for larger parties and larger rigs in general. If you’re pulling more people on board, you’re certainly going to enjoy the additional torque and weight a four-stroke engine can provide.

It makes for a generally gutsier and more powerful outboard motor ride. What you’ll notice, when we discuss specific models later, is that most deck boats are going to feature four-stroke engines. What they lack in acceleration, they make up for in dependability and strength.

4. Power and Distance

An easy way to find out the horsepower of any engine is simply to look at it. Pretty clearly, on just about any engine (any engine you’ll want to consider buying, that is), you’ll be able to find a sticker that states the maximum horsepower achievable by that engine.

While power is important, you also need to consider fuel consumption. This is because you not only need to know how fast your deck boat can go, but how far it can take you.

If you have a boat with higher horsepower, it’s in your best interest to run it faster for longer. This is because your fuel consumption will go up when you’re cruising with a high-powered motor—it’s trying to restrain itself from its full potential, which unfortunately eats up gas.

I’ve spent many years traveling in “no-wake zones” down rivers and bays, and have found that lower horsepower boats have always done a better job of conserving gas, while still reaching the speeds I might need once I got out into open waters. Overall, I would stress efficiency over pure power when it comes to your motor.

The Right Deck Boat Horsepower

As is the case with so much of boating, it all comes down to how you’re going to use and who you’re going to use it with. If you want something to support a lot of people, you might need a stronger engine.

At the same time, stronger engines might eat up more gas. If you want something smaller, you might have more acceleration but less power in your engine overall.

For your reference, here are some specific examples of deck boat models maximum horsepower:

  • A 2016 Bayliner 190 Deck Boat has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 150 hp.
  • A 2016 Bayliner 210 Deck Boat has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 200 hp.
  • A 2016 Bayliner Element XR7 has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 250 hp.
  • A 2016 Boston Whaler 270 Vantage has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 600 hp.
  • A 2015 Bryant 255 has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 320 hp.
  • A 2016 Chaparral 224 Sunesta has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 350 hp.
  • A 2016 Crownline E2 XS has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 250 hp.
  • A 2016 Crownline E1 EC has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 300 hp.
  • A 2016 Crownline E6 XS has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 300 hp.
  • A 2016 Bayliner Element XL has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 150 hp.
  • A 2016 Boston Whaler 230 Vantage has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 350 hp.
  • A 2015 Stingray 192 SC has a four-stroke outboard motor, with a maximum horsepower of 150 hp.
  • A 2015 Tahoe 195 has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 260 hp.
  • A 2015 Rinker 220 MTX has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 300 hp.
  • A 2016 Bayliner 195 Deck Boat has a sterndrive motor, with a maximum horsepower of 250 hp.

I highly recommend assessing your needs first and foremost. Learn everything you can about the right kind of deck boat for you before you make that investment.

Then, you’ll be ready to let those horses gallop!


Max Specht is a copywriter and content strategist from Canada. When he’s not busy navigating the Florida waterways, or the open expanses of the Great Lakes, he’s in the business of writing and devising content that truly makes the grade. 

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