Here we go through a comparison and see which comes out on top…
The weight of your engine not only impacts the power and boating performance but it also impacts your fuel economy. Outboard motors have a clear advantage here when compared with their much heavier counterpart.
It really depends where your priorities lie. Outboard engines are mounted on the back outside of the boat taking up little to no cockpit space. Sterndrives are mounted inside the boat taking up considerable cockpit space in the back – however these are usually cleverly concealed under a seat or sun pad making the lost space usable again.
Outboards are a clear winner here with the whole engine being outside of the boat and easily accessible for servicing, winterising and maintaining. With the sterndrive being mounted inside the boat with the drive extending through the transom results in some components of the engine being harder to access.
For those wanting the luxury of having a swim platform on the rear of their boat, sterndrive engines are the clear winner. With the engine mounted inside and the propeller tucked away under the water, you can have access to a full width swim platform great for boarding on and off the boat, water sports and leisure activities.
Unlike the sterndrive, the outboard engine allows you to be able to tilt the entire engine, including propeller, out of the water. For those boats in the water for long periods this can reduce your cleaning requirements as it helps to protect it from marine growth.
Sterndrives are the winner here but only by a small margin. Depending on the age and condition of the engine the cost can be pretty comparable.
This comes down to a matter of opinion, but many prefer the clean lines the sterndrive has the offer with the engine concealed inside the boat and covered cleverly with a sun pad. It also allows for uninterrupted views out the back and a full-width swim platform which cannot be offered with an outboard ruining the clean rear profile.
On paper, you could say that an outboard is the winner being lighter, more fuel efficient, easier to maintain, and allows for more cockpit space. However, the true answer is in the eye of the beholder as the sterndrive is not only better looking but it allows for great liveability in the rear with a swim platform, sun pad and uninterrupted views out back with clean design lines.