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June 9, 2021

Mercury MerCruiser: The Leader in Sterndrive Innovation

Better ideas make for better boating.


It’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps because a Mercury® MerCruiser® sterndrive engine is usually hidden below an engine hatch, it’s easy to take one for granted. You just turn the key and start boating. But that turnkey reliable performance didn’t happen by accident. Every MerCruiser engine and drive is infused with innovative design and technology that inform the performance, efficiency, convenience and fun of each outing on the water. So go ahead and turn the key, but when you do, remember the great innovations that made it possible. Here are some examples.

Purpose-Built Engines

Recent automotive technologies such as direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and aluminum engine blocks offer significant advantages – for automobiles and trucks. Mercury believes that in a boat these technologies add cost and complexity without improving performance or adding customer value.

Rather than rely on the automotive-based engines in use by other marine engine manufacturers, MerCruiser 4.5L V6, 6.2L V8 and 8.2L V8 engines (from 200hp to 430hp) are designed from the oil pan up by Mercury Marine specifically for marine duty. At each horsepower rating, MerCruiser offers extra displacement to make massive torque, which is exactly the kind of power it takes to move a boat smartly on plane.

For quieter boating the engine intake has been tuned in the Mercury NVH Technical Center, the largest and most expansive testing facility in the marine industry devoted to studying noise, vibration and harshness. Special front and rear engine mounts isolate vibration for smooth, quiet performance.

The resulting MerCruiser engines deliver best-in-class reliability, durability and performance.

MerCruiser Bravo Four S™ Drive

The latest addition to the complete line of MerCruiser drives, the new Bravo Four S forward-facing drive with Smart Tow® controls is the ideal choice for wakesurfing and other tow sports. Its twin props grip the water for enhanced maneuverability at typical low surfing speeds, but the most notable innovation is in the controls.

The Bravo Four S drive pairs with the digital Mercury Smart Tow® system, which coordinates ballast, surf tabs and propulsion settings under a single and intuitive user interface. Smart Tow makes it easy to create perfect, repeatable wakes for wakesurfing, wakeboarding and other tow sports with just a few taps on a VesselView® touchscreen display.

Plus, unlike a traditional inboard tow boat, a boat equipped with Bravo Four S propulsion offers all the advantages of sterndrive power, including trimability and the comfort of boating with a deeper-V hull.

Adaptive Speed Control and Active Trim

These two Mercury-exclusive technologies work together to make any boat easier to drive. Adaptive Speed Control automatically holds engine rpm as load or conditions change, such as when making a tight turn or heading up an ocean swell, so you don’t have to frequently adjust throttle position to maintain speed or keep the boat on plane. Active Trim automatically trims the MerCruiser drive for optimal performance and economy. Together, Adaptive Speed Control and Active Trim let you focus on the course ahead, and having fun, while taking much of the work out of handling the boat.

Joystick Piloting for Sterndrives

No boater wants to feel anxious when maneuvering around the dock. In a twin-engine boat equipped with Mercury Joystick Piloting you’ll enjoy a new level of confidence. A joystick on the helm offers intuitive fingertip control around the dock and easy positioning of the boat sideways, at an angle or rotating in place.

Joystick Piloting also incorporates Mercury Skyhook, a digital anchor that locks your boat’s position using a GPS satellite signal and maintains that position and heading regardless of wind or current. It’s ideal for holding your boat over a fishing spot, waiting for a bridge to open or holding position in line at a fuel docking station.


An information portal for your boat, VesselView is the premier onboard information management system in the recreational marine industry. VesselView monitors and reports key boat and engine data and supports Active Trim, Smart Tow and many other features. It’s available in dedicated VesselView displays, through compatible multi-function displays using VesselView Link (Lowrance® and Simrad®) or SmartCraft Connect (Garmin® and Raymarine®), and through mobile devices equipped with the VesselView Mobile app. When you select a Preferred Dealer within the app, you can share your data with your dealer, who can then review system alerts and help you keep your engine in top condition.

Ease of Maintenance

Mercury has long been a leader at building reliable, easy-to-maintain engines. Whether you do your own maintenance or take it to a service pro, it's simple to keep a MerCruiser engine running at its peak for longer. When you do open the hatch, you’ll find that Mercury has placed color-coded service points on the front of the engine, so they are easy to find. To make maintenance even easier, there’s a scannable QR code on the engine for links to DIY service videos you can watch on a mobile device.

Because Mercury never settles for the industry standard, the company engineered MerCruiser drives to have a service interval three times longer than other sterndrives – up to 300 hours or three years. Less maintenance saves you time and money.

Corrosion Prevention

Mercury has always been on the forefront of corrosion prevention and backs every MerCruiser product with a three-year corrosion warranty. That level of confidence is possible because of innovations such as Mercury’s patented low-copper aluminum alloys, which better withstand corrosion in freshwater and saltwater. MercFusion, a proprietary multi-level paint process, produces an exceptionally hard, thick and tough surface finish that shields exterior components. It’s all proven by torturous testing in the lab and in the brutal sun and saltwater at the Mercury X-Site test base in Florida.

The Mercury Precision MerCathode® system, which comes standard on Bravo® drives and is available for Alpha® drives, is an industry-first that provides automatic protection against galvanic corrosion caused by stray current in marinas and by submerged stainless steel propellers and hardware.

For the ultimate in protection against the harsh saltwater environment, Mercury created SeaCore™, a protective anti-corrosion system for MerCruiser. With SeaCore, all components exposed to saltwater are hard-coat anodized, creating a shield against abrasion and corrosion. In addition, the engine’s closed cooling system seals out saltwater from the engine block using five-year, long-life coolant for additional durability. SeaCore is so effective that MerCruiser products equipped with this system are backed with a four-year corrosion warranty.

MerCruiser sterndrives have led the industry since the first model debuted in 1961. Today, innovations in digital controls, connectivity, autonomous features and corrosion prevention combined with a tradition of reliability, performance and economy are reflected in every new MerCruiser engine and drive. To learn more about MerCruiser products, click here.

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