The Cessna 180 and 185 are both classic airplanes that share far more in common with each other than they differ.

This is for good reason, considering that the Cessna 185 was developed from the 180.

Both planes have a history of use in civil and military aviation, with both being widely used in bush flying, and for the commercial transport of passengers and freight.

Today, they are popular with both air charter companies and private individual owners.

Let’s take a closer look at each plane, as well as the key differences between the two.

Cessna 180


  • Role: Light utility aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • First Flight: May 26, 1952
  • Introduction: 1953
  • Produced: 1953–1981
  • Number built: 6,193


  • Takeoff Run: 625 ft
  • Takeoff Run over 50 ft Barrier: 1,205 ft
  • Rate of Climb: 1,100 ft per min
  • Service Ceiling: 17,700 ft
  • Top Speed: 148 knots
  • Cruising Speed (75% power): 141 knots
  • Cruising Range (75% power): 725 nautical miles
  • Cruising Range (maximum): 890 nautical miles
  • Stalling Speed: 48 knots
  • Landing Roll: 480 ft
  • Gross Weight: 2,800 lbs
  • Empty Weight (standard): 1,648 lbs
  • Useful Load: 1,152 lbs


  • 180A
  • 180B
  • 180C
  • 180D
  • 180E
  • 180F
  • 180G
  • 180H
  • 180J
  • 180K

Note: No “I” model was every produced

Cessna 185


  • Role: Light utility aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company
  • First Flight: July 1960
  • Introduction: 1961
  • Produced: 1961-1985
  • Number built: Over 4,400


  • Takeoff Run: 770 ft
  • Takeoff Run over 50 ft Barrier: 1,365 ft
  • Rate of Climb: 1,01 ft per min
  • Service Ceiling: 17,150 ft
  • Top Speed: 155 knots
  • Cruising Speed (75% power): 145 knots
  • Cruising Range (75% power): 585 nautical miles
  • Cruising Range (maximum): 720 nautical miles
  • Stalling Speed: 49 knots
  • Landing Roll: 480 ft
  • Gross Weight: 3,350 lbs
  • Empty Weight (standard): 1,687 lbs
  • Useful Load: 1,663 lbs



  • 185A Skywagon
  • 185B Skywagon
  • 185C Skywagon
  • 185D Skywagon
  • 185E Skywagon
  • A185E Skywagon and AgCarryall
  • A185F Skywagon and AgCarryall

Note: The AgCarryall option was an agricultural aircraft that featured an external 151-gallon chemical tank, removable spray booms with 30 nozzles, wind-driven spray system, windshield wire cutters, and vertical stabilizer cable deflector


  • U-17A: Military version of the 185E, equipped with a 260hp Continental IO-470-F piston engine
  • U-17B: Military version of the A185E, equipped with a 300hp Continental IO-520-D piston engine
  • U-17C: Four seats, powered by a Continental IO-470-L piston engine

Cessna 180 vs 185 Key Differences

The Cessna 180 and 185 both share the same fuselage, control surfaces, wings, horizontal stabilizer, and main landing gear.

However, there are also a few key differences between them.


The main difference between the Cessna 180 and 185 is engine power.

The Cessna 180 has a carbureted Continental 0-470-U engine rated at 230 horsepower.

The Cessna 185 has a fuel-injected Continental IO-520-D engine rated at 260 horsepower.

The 185 engine also has a maximum continuous horsepower rating of 285, with 300hp allowable for five minutes at takeoff.

Fuel Burn

Due to its smaller engine, the Cessna 180 is the right choice when it comes to more efficient fuel-burn.

It, therefore, has a better range than the 185 (890 nm vs. 720 nm).

This is ideal in more remote areas where there is a lack of refueling facilities, or you are otherwise unable to refuel.

The Cessna 180 burns 3-4 fewer gallons an hour, making it the more economical choice.


The Cessna 185 is the more powerful of the two, making it more suitable when a pilot needs to operate on wheel-skis or floats due to its much better takeoff and load-carrying performance.


The Cessna 180 is lighter on the controls than the 185.

Due to its lighter gross weight and thanks to its larger tires, the 180 is better at getting in and out of very short runways.

However, both the 180 and 185 can make crosswind landings on wheels a bit of a challenge.

How Much Does a Cessna 180 and Cessna 185 Cost Today?

Today, if you want to buy a Cessna 180 you’re looking at a minimum price of $90,000.

For a Cessna 185, expect to pay a minimum of $150,000.

Of course, condition, whether the plane has been refurbished, etc. will all play a key role in the price.

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.