The outboard-powered 550 TS is designed as an alternative to a sterndrive-powered bowrider, and in fact, outboards are becoming more popular in this boat class at the expense of sterndrives. It used to be that outboards were substantially more expensive to buy, but thanks to the EPA’s increasingly stringent emissions standards, sterndrives are catching up in cost. Outboard versions usually weigh less, making them easier to tow on a trailer while saving fuel, though they typically burn more fuel on the water.
With the base FourStroke 115-hp, this boat would struggle with a full load of eight passengers and gear, but that may be power adequate if the boat is kept light with just a couple of people and light gear on board.We recommend the optional 150-hp (hp up to 200 is available) Mercury for better acceleration onto plane, especially when towing a boarder or skier, and also to achieve a decent cruise speed.
For her 19'10" (6.05 m) length, the 550 TS cockpit feels deeper than some competitive boats. There’s seating for eight people in the cockpit and bow, and aft is a full-width sundeck over an empty storage compartment where a sterndrive engine would go. She comes standard with an AM/FM Bluetooth stereo, 36-quart (34 L) cooler, ten cup holders, six stainless steel cleats and a single-axle trailer.
Forward in the cockpit, the 550 TS has bucket seats that swivel and adjust fore and aft so that the co-pilot can spin around to observe for watersports. There’s decent legroom between the forward and aft seats and the aft bench has space for at least four people. To starboard, the outboard seat cushion slides aft like a drawer beneath the sundeck base and the cushion for the sundeck folds over it, creating a walkway to the stern. This is smart because it keeps passengers from walking on the upholstery, saving wear and tear. On the stern to port, there’s a wet-storage locker, which drains overboard, and to starboard is a four-step ladder, which projects well underwater for easier climbing than a three-step ladder provides.
The 550 TS dash panel has some noteworthy features. First, even though white-faced instruments are more popular, TAHOE used gray-faced gauges set in a darker gray panel to reduce glare. Additionally, a water pressure gauge, one of the best indicators of an outboard’s health, comes standard.
In the center of the panel is a bungee cord that will hold a cell phone in place and just ahead is a small glovebox with a 12-volt plug. Tilt steering is a $150 upgrade, well worth it for the extra knee room, and to the left of the wheel are the ignition and a 12-volt power plug, while the accessory switches are to starboard.
The 550 TS’ bow lounges measure 4' (1.22 m) long and there’s decent depth for passengers who sit against the backrests facing forward, though we’d like to see longer or more handholds in this, the most dynamic part of the boat. There are stainless steel grab rails, cup holders and speakers in the gunwales.
Sticking with the 550 TS’ bow area, there’s storage beneath the side cushions and behind the backrests. Additionally, the bow cushion can be pulled aside to access the anchor locker. In the cockpit, there’s a glovebox in the companionway dash that holds the third 12-volt plug.
A hatch in the sole between the bucket seats opens to the ski locker, which has enough depth for high-backed ski or board bindings plus brackets for the stern light and cockpit cover poles. The aforementioned cooler has a dedicated spot beneath the center bench seat cushion, there are lockers outboard beneath the cushions and the gunwales have storage trays with bungee cords. Because this hull is also offered as a sterndrive, there’s a huge locker beneath the sundeck where the engine would be installed.
TAHOE builds the 550 TS with all hand-laid fiberglass in the hull, deck and stringer system. The hull and deck are fastened mechanically and chemically bonded and all voids in the hull and stringers are foam filled to meet the Coast Guard’s requirement for level flotation in boats under 20' (6.10 m). The underside of hatch covers are finished with tooled gelcoat surfaces for easy cleaning. Additionally, the boat is offered in five colors: Black Cherry, Storm Blue, Victory Red, Onyx or Blueberry.
Power and Performance
The TAHOE 550 TS has a LOA of 19'10" (6.05 m), a beam of 7'10" (2.39 m) and a draft of 15" (.38 m). With a weight with motor of 2,395 lbs. (1,086 kg), 50% fuel, test power and three people on board, we had an estimated test weight of 3,099 lbs. (1,406 kg).
TAHOE powers the 550 TS with the standard 115-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard. 150-hp FourStroke, 150 OptiMax Pro XS, 175 OptiMax Pro XS, 200 OptiMax Pro XS and 200 Verado outboard options are also available. We tested the boat with the 150-hp FourStroke turning a Tempest three-blade stainless steel propeller.
Top speed was 48.8 mph at 5800 rpm and we burned 13.8 gph for a range of 105 miles. Best cruise was 24 mph at 3000 rpm where the engine burned 3.9 gph, giving the boat a range of 182 miles.
Remember that a small boat like this is very sensitive to modest weight additions, so even though our test boat with three people on board performed well, a full load of 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) of people and gear almost doubles the boat’s hull weight of 1,940 lbs. (880 kg). Bottom line—get the maximum power available unless the boat is strictly for a cruising couple.
Planing Times. TAHOE calls the 550 TS bottom design the POWERGLIDE II and the manufacturer says the hull has a longer running surface with bottom strakes designed to improve acceleration and turning. Time to plane was 4.5 seconds and we reached 20 mph in 6.1 seconds and 30 mph in 9.3 seconds. In maneuvers, the boat felt nimble and sporty, whipping through S turns and circles without hooking out from under us in a hard turn.
Individual Options to Consider and Pricing
• 150-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard: $2,800 (highly recommended)
• Cranking battery charger: $75
• Depth sounder: $175
• Auto bilge switch: $50
• Bimini top with aluminum frame: $795
• Driver’s seat with bolster: $125
• Tilt steering: $150
• Folding wakeboard tower and racks (includes Bimini top): $2,750
• Single-axle spare tire: $305 (always a good idea as is the upgraded tandem-axle trailer with dual-axle brakes!)
The 150-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard is quiet, fuel-efficient and emissions compliant anywhere in North America, Canada and Europe and it provides the power needed for watersports. At a package weight of 3,291 lbs. (1,493 kg), she can be towed by a wide variety of mid-size vehicles and the trailer is fitted to the boat.
For her 19'10" (6.05 m) length, the boat has good external freeboard and a decent amount o interior coaming height as well for added safety. Overall, we found the fit-and-finish much improved from previous models and the boat has numerous family-friendly details. The standard equipment includes the swiveling and sliding bucket seats, a cooler and stereo system, plus the three 12-volt power plugs, which shows that TAHOE has mastered the art of packaging its boats for the value-conscious family.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Tahoe 550 TS (2016-) is 48.8 mph (78.5 kph), burning 13.80 gallons per hour (gph) or 52.23 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Tahoe 550 TS (2016-) is 24.0 mph (38.6 kph), and the boat gets 6.14 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.61 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 182 miles (292.9 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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