Best Midrange Outboard: Yamaha 40HP vs. Honda 40HP

Yamaha 40HP and Honda 40HP outboards consistently top the charts for best midrange outboard motors. 

Why are they so highly regarded? How do they differ from one another? Does one offer any significant advantages over the other? If you’re in the market for a mid-range outboard motor, here’s a guide to Yamaha vs Honda 40HP outboards.

Yamaha 40 vs Honda 40 midrange outboards

If there’s an internal combustion engine at the heart of it, chances are you’ll find a Yamaha or Honda badge on it. Both brands are household names that never allowed their standards or reputations for reliability to falter. Honda’s outboards are manufactured in-house in Japan, while the majority of Yamaha’s outboards are also produced in Japanese factories, but with some made in France and Brazil.

In contrast, outboard manufacturer Mercury shifted its production to China. While Chinese manufacturing quality has progressed significantly, Japanese manufacturing standards are considered the pinnacle of quality. Sadly Evinrude, who made their outboards in the US, ceased production in 2020.

Yamaha 40HP midrange outboard

Why Choose a 40HP Outboard

Outboard motors between 30HP and 50HP are all midrange outboards, so why are the 40HP models more popular? 

Honda 40HP midrange outboard

From a price perspective, a 40HP outboard makes the most sense. Typically, you can expect to pay about $100 more per horsepower between the midrange outboards. This means paying about $1000 more to get a 33% more powerful motor from a 30HP to a 40HP outboard. However, the same $1000 only gets you a 25% increase in power between a 40HP and 50HP, which is far less cost effective. In other words, the 40HP offers the best midrange bang for your buck.

Yamaha 40 outboard

Modern outboards have horsepower measured at the prop shaft, which is less than the powerhead produces due to frictional losses throughout the driveshaft and gearbox. However, older outboards had their HP measured at the powerhead, and so the actual power provided at the prop was less than they were given credit for. With that in mind, a modern Honda or Yamaha 40HP outboard probably generates as much horsepower as an older outboard rated at 50HP. And because a 40HP is smaller and lighter than a 50HP, the power-to-weight ratio also improves the 40HP outboard’s performance. It offers the ideal compromise between power output, size, weight and fuel consumption within the midrange class.

Honda midrange outboard

Why Yamaha 40HP & Honda 40HP Outboards Are Similar

Choosing between a Yamaha and a Honda 40HP outboard isn’t easy because their specs are very similar. And because the midrange outboard market is extremely lucrative, the various manufacturers contest it fiercely.

Yamaha 40hp outboard engine

Outboard manufacturers spend millions of dollars trying to design the perfect midrange outboard motor that appeals to consumers and outsells its rivals. However, today’s computer-driven research and design seeks the optimum solution to an engineering problem regardless of the manufacturer, which often results in very similar finished products across the board. 

Both the Yamaha 40HP and the Honda 40HP are 3-cylinder engines under 1000cc. They have similar engine bores and gear ratios, near identical fuel consumption figures, and provide good speed and overall performance. 

Differences Between Yamaha 40HP & Honda 40HP Outboards

Truth be told, there’s not much of a significant difference between the Yamaha and Honda 40HP outboards. 

Honda 40 HP outboard motor

As mentioned, both manufacturers put countless hours and dollars into extensive R&D to create the best 40HP outboard possible, and the end results tend to converge. The Yamaha 40HP has a 747cc engine, while the Honda 40HP has an 808cc engine, so the Honda delivers slightly higher power. The flip side is that the larger displacement Honda motor is bigger overall, so this gain in power is somewhat negated due to its size. Nevertheless, if you were to run both outboards back-to-back in a blind test, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in performance.

Yamaha 40 outboard engine

The manufacturer’s warranty could be the difference maker in choosing between both 40HP outboards. As of this writing (2021), Honda comes out on top with a 5-year warranty vs. Yamaha’s 3-year warranty. However, warranty lengths are often used as incentives by the manufacturers but are regularly subject to change. Plus, you can probably persuade a dealer to provide an extended warranty in exchange for committing to a purchase.

Check out the Honda and Yamaha dealerships near you before buying an outboard. One outboard brand may be better served in your area over the other, which would make buying that particular brand more practical when it comes to service and support. 

Honda 40 outboard engine

The best way to choose between Yamaha and Honda 40HP outboards is to give each one a trial run and get a firsthand experience to determine whether you’ll be happy with either. You might find the noise less obtrusive from one motor, or simply prefer how one looks over the other. Ultimately Honda and Yamaha 40HP outboards are both superb choices at the top of the midrange class, so choosing between them may just boil down to brand preference.



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