Sterndrive vs Jet

Mercury Marine changed the game of boating power when it released its first MerCruiser sterndrive a half century ago. Over the years, a commitment to innovation has placed the MerCruiser name among the great pioneers in the industry, always pushing forward by integrating Mercury technological breakthroughs such as SeaCore corrosion protection and Axius joystick control with its sterndrive systems. Recently, jet drives have emerged as a trendy alternative, as some companies have applied engine technologies native to personal watercraft to larger runabouts. When it comes to trends, some become legitimate movements, but most go the way of ant farms and pet rocks. When matched up against legendary MerCruiser sterndrives, it would certainly seem jets fall closer to that latter grouping. From MerCruiser's 3.0L plants on up to its big blocks, nothing can compare to the lineup's proven sterndrive technology, reliability and durability, breadth and depth of choices, and expert global dealer network that backs it all up. The choice is easy.

MerCruiser sterndrives hold a number of performance, comfort and safety advantages over jet engines

  • The hull shape of jet boats makes them difficult to handle in bad weather; sterndrives cut through chop and keep you on course
  • Sterndrives are superior for tow sports, offering a better wake shape, more confident steering and more stable speeds
  • Recent comparisons showed that a jet-powered runabout ran twice as loud as a comparable sterndrive-powered boat at 30 mph
  • In shallow water, a jet can suck up weeds, sand and foreign objects, requiring additional service; sterndrives perform better in shallow water and are easier to clean
  • MerCruiser sterndrives are made specifically for boating purposes; jet engines originated for use with personal watercraft and don't have the same boating pedigree
  • MerCruiser sterndrives boast SeaCore corrosion protection for incomparable durability over the long-haul

Built to Last
MerCruiser sterndrives have been built from the start exclusively for boating applications. The same can't be said for jet engines, which were first engineered for use with personal watercraft. Jet engines haven't historically been held to the same high standards for corrosion protection as sterndrives, since, unlike boats, personal watercraft aren't built to sit in water for extended periods of time. Any marine growth or befouling can significantly impact the performance of a jet, while MerCruiser sterndrives are specifically built to handle the rigors of the marine environment. It's simple, really: Jets can't hold a candle to sterndrives when it comes to longevity and proven reliability in boating applications

Greener Pastures
In head-to-head comparisons, sterndrive-powered runabouts performed more efficiently at cruising and low speeds than equivalent jet-equipped boats. Better fuel efficiency equals less money spent at the pump for the boater who chooses a sterndrive. But MerCruiser sterndrives take the advantage to the next level with the SmartCraft ECO-Screen. For superior fuel efficiency, pair your MerCruiser sterndrive with the ECO-Screen, an innovative dashboard feature that runs engine diagnostics and - on an easy-to-read, multicolor screen - tells you exactly what you need to do to obtain optimal fuel economy.

Thrust of the Matter
Jet boats steer with directional thrust. Once the jet stream is reduced, the ability to steer is reduced. And once the jet stream is turned off, the ability to steer is gone. Imagine that happening while you're trying to dock or when cruising! Sterndrive boats deliver consistent steering due to the thrust of the propeller and the direction of the drive. Don't ruin a perfectly fine day of boating by losing your cool (and control) at the dock.