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Choosing a 5/6HP outboard

A comparison of 5HP and 6HP outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

Niagara River, July 2001
Niagara River, July 2001

These 5HP and 6HP outboards are a step above their 4HP siblings in price, power, and features. Tohatsu and Mercury even target sailboats specifically with their Sail Pro and Sail Power variants.

They are powerful enough to push about 2000 lbs of sailboat. If your tender is small enough, you might even be able to get it planing under the right conditions.

Compared to 4HP

The 5HP and 6HP outboards come from literally the same mold as their 4HP siblings. For more money but about the same weight you get most of the 4HP features and then some:

A lot of sailors look down on propane outboards, especially when they’ve never even seen one and they’re about to click Send on a forum post. I don’t have any experience with propane-powered outboards either, but propane has definite advantages:

Choosing a winner

I wanted to rank this class of outboards, but the variety of choices means that each outboard fits in its own niche.

The Honda, Yamaha, and Tohatsu win with their longer warranty of 5 years. The Suzuki wins on weight and color choice. For flexibile configurations and options, the Tohatsu and Mercury win with Sail Pro/Sail Power, propane, and 25 inch shaft.

As always, pick the best outboard for you.

High alternator output

Yamaha F6

Yamaha F6

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59/27, 20 inch: 61/28

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 6A (optional)

Carrying handles: front and rear

Warranty (years): 3

Yamaha and Honda are tied for the highest alternator output.

Lightest weight

Suzuki DF6A

Suzuki DF6A

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 52/23.5, 20 inch: 55/25

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.26/1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (optional)

Carrying handles: front and rear

Warranty (years): 3

The Suzuki 6HP beats everyone else on weight at 52 or 55 lbs. Unlike its 4HP sibling, you can go 15 or 20 inches. Like Yamaha, it allows storage on 3 of its 4 sides.

Suzuki has a few unique features. There are three locking positions when tilting it up. You can choose your color, black or white. You can also choose a prop size, putting this outboard in the same niche as the Tohatsu Sail Pro and Mercury Sail Power.

High alternator output

Honda BF5

Honda BF5

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59.5/27, 20 inch: 60.6/27.5

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.39/1.5

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 6A (optional)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

The Honda has the highest internal fuel capacity, the same high alternator output as the Yamaha.

Front shiter, flexible options

Tohatsu MFS5

Tohatsu MFS5

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26, 20 inch: 58/27

Internal fuel capacity: external only

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (optional)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

The Tohatsu 5HP has a longer warranty and a shifter at the front of the engine instead of its side.

The 5HP has no internal fuel tank but the Tohatsu MFS6CD does.

Sail Pro option

Tohatsu MFS5LPG

Tohatsu MFS5LPG

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20, 25 (Sail Pro only)

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59.5/27.2, 20 inch: 63.1/28.6, 25 inch: 64.2/29.1

Internal fuel capacity: external only

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (standard for the Sail Pro, optional otherwise)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

The optional Sail Pro configuration comes with a high-thrust prop, an alternator as standard equipment, and a 20 or 25 inch shaft.

The Tohatsu has a longer warranty and a shifter at the front of the engine instead of its side.

Sail Pro option

Tohatsu MFS6CS and MFS6CD

Tohatsu MFS6CS and MFS6CD

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20, and 25 (Sail Pro)

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26, 20 inch: 58/27

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.15 for MFS6CD. MFS6CS is external only.

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (standard for the Sail Pro, optional otherwise)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

Tohatsu has a longer warranty and a shifter at the front of the engine instead of its side. The MFS6CD has an internal tank and optional external tank. The MFS6CS has only an external fuel tank.

The MFS6CS has an optional Sail Pro configuration, which includes a high-thrust prop, an alternator as standard equipment, and a 20 or 25 inch shaft.

Sail Power option

Mercury 5

Mercury 5

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20 (Sail Power only), 25

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26, 20 inch: 59/27

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 4A (Sail Power only)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 3

The optional Sail Power configuration comes only in a 20 inch shaft. It includes a high-thrust prop and an alternator.

Sail Power option

Mercury 5 Propane

Mercury 5 Propane

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20, 25 (Sail Power only)

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59.5/27.2, 20 inch: 63.1/28.6

Internal fuel capacity: external only

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 4A (Sail Power only)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 3

The optional Sail Power configuration comes only in a 20 inch shaft. It includes a high-thrust prop and an alternator.

More power, fewer options

Mercury 6

Mercury 6

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.15

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: none

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 3

Unlike the Mercury 5’s many options, the Mercury 6 has no Sail Power, no propane, no alternator, and no 25 inch shaft.

Its only advantage is the extra 1 horsepower. Unless you have a specific need for this modest boost, consider the more flexible options of the Mercury 5 or Mercury 5 Propane.

Related articles

Choosing a 2.5HP outboard


A comparison of the smallest outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

Choosing a 4HP outboard


A comparison of 4HP outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

At your service

Humbly yours,

Marc
Supreme Purser