Going Low

Posted: January 1, 2014

Evinrude E-TEC 135 H.O.

By: Alan Jones

The horsepower range between 115 and 150 is one of the least populated outboard engine segments, but an immense number of boats could benefit from the power range.

Since 2007, Evinrude has filled the niche with its E-TEC 130 HP V-4 direct-injected two-stroke model that shared engine blocks with the 115 H.O. and HP models. With a displacement of 1.7L, it had to work fairly hard to achieve its horsepower rating, and it only achieved a 2-Star rating from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Seeking to create a superior model for the 115-150 range that could achieve a 3-Star CARB rating as well as create effortless power, the designers at Evinrude looked no further than their existing V-6 platform, which includes the E-TEC 150 HP, 175 HP and 200 HP engines. As such, the V-4 130 HP model and 115 H.O. are no longer available in North America, but the 115 HP version will still be sold.

H.O. or L.O.?
Called the E-TEC 135 H.O., it shares the same 2.6L-displacement V-6 block as its higher horsepower brethren, which begs the question: Why is the smallest horsepower version designated as “High Output?” Seems like it should be the 135 “L.O.” But the H.O. designation is due to a dual-length exhaust system that optimizes performance in both the low and high rpm ranges. At less than 4000 rpm, the longer exhaust track is used to provide more torque and power; then, at 4K, the exhaust switches to a much shorter track, optimizing performance in the 4500-plus range.

Some might question why you would buy what is essentially a detuned version of a 200 hp outboard that weighs the same? Actually, there are several valid reasons for this. First, there are numerous boats, such as the Carolina Skiff 2180 DLX and Warrior 1890BT, that have 140 maximum horsepower ratings. Another reason is cost. If your power needs don’t necessitate 150 or more hp, you can save hundreds of dollars by buying the 135 H.O. outboard. Since Evinrude pushes the 10 percent allowable overage on hp ratings, you are getting close to 150 hp anyway. The final reason has to do with longevity. Anytime you keep that much potential power in reserve, the engine is likely to last longer.

How Does it Perform?
We got our first look at the E-TEC 135 H.O. on a Dusky 278, which is a 4,500-pound, 28-foot, 2-inch offshore fishing boat. Not exactly the boat I imagined for testing this engine, but in a twin configuration, it showed its versatility as an all-purpose outboard. Direct-injected E-TEC motors start startlingly fast, thanks in part to a closed fuel system that allows them to fire when the flywheel makes one revolution. Another huge advantage of using a V-6 is the inherently strong torque curve that got the hefty Dusky on plane in 3.2 seconds. It hit 30 mph in 7.8 seconds, and when the exhaust switched over to the shorter track at 4000 rpm, you could feel a noticeable boost in acceleration — and quickly we were whizzing along at a top speed of 42.8 mph.

Evinrude conducted 135 H.O. performance tests on a Hell’s Bay Marquesa bay/flats boat, which has a maximum hp rating of 140, and it proved to be a great match. The ability to get on plane in less than 2 seconds is a huge benefit for a flats boat, and a top speed of 54.8 mph can get you to the fishing grounds for the dawn bite.

E-TEC Advantages
Boats these days use more electricity than your house, what with the killer stereos, huge displays and bling lighting, so your charging system had better produce. Evinrude’s alternator puts out an astounding 133 amps, which is more than twice the output of many of its competitors.

One of the benefits of Evinrude’s two-stroke technology is that there is no scheduled dealer maintenance required for the first 300 hours or three years (whichever comes first). Like other two-strokes, you have to remember to keep the oil tank filled, but on the plus side you don’t have to change the oil.

Despite being a V-6, the 20-inch-shaft version weighs only 418 pounds, which is just 13 pounds more than the V-4 Evinrude 130 HP model. It features the lightning gear case, which is more hydrodynamic than the beefier Straight Leading Edge gearcase found on the 25-inch shaft version, which weighs 15 pounds more. And for the fashion conscious, it comes in either blue or white.

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