Four Winns 378 VistaBy Andy Adams

The overwhelming impression the 378 Four Winns Vista left us with, was that this boat offers a desirable mix of contemporary styling with traditional big boat qualities and the design emphasis on the great outdoors.

The express cruiser genre has become very popular in recent years by delivering a mix of accommodation and performance that meets today’s market demands. Unfortunately, to maximize performance and interior space, some builders sacrifice features like walk-around side decks to gain cabin space, take space from the cockpit to accommodate an aft cabin, then deliver an aft cabin that may be cramped or have little ventilation, and so on.

We were pleased to see the 378 Four Winns bring back many of the traditional convenience and safety features. The name 378 refers to the real length of 37’ 8” inches but with the swim platform, it’s actually 41’3” on a generous 12’9” beam. Depending on engines and options, a 378 comes in between 18,000 and 20,000 lbs. and has an “as equipped” selling price around $315,000.

The 378 exterior design makes a good first impression. We appreciate the molded in bow pulpit with remote control spot light, plow anchor, large drained locker and Maxwell electric windlass with controls on the deck and at the helm.

Four Winns makes it a pleasure to be outside on the 378. You don’t need to use the walk-through windshield. To get forward, use the steps on the aft deck, grab the handhold on the radar arch and make your way forward, protected by a welded stainless-steel bow rail. The expansive deck features a large sun pad and there’s room for a man to get out and stand around. Too many boats expect you to be seated all weekend.

Four Winns 378 Vista - HelmOwners will appreciate the family sized swim platform. It has a light switch and lights for late arrivals or evening dips, a hand-held shower and five step metal boarding ladder so just about anyone can get out of the water without being a gymnast; again traditional big boat features. The exhausts dump out the sides so gasses don’t get trapped under the swim platform – a major safety consideration.

With the transom door open, the swim platform is an extension of the cockpit for more roaming around room. It features an enormous wraparound couch that sweeps across the transom, up the starboard side and around behind the helm seat, to become a giant conversation pit or dining area with the removable table in. There’s cavernous storage underneath the seats and you can lower the table to convert it to a queen berth.

Opposite is a refreshment center with 110 volt power, built-in icemaker, sink, drink holders, trash locker and a small refrigerator. Nearby, are shore power and battery controls. The 378 has a full fiberglass liner and snap-in carpeting; all in all, a great living area.

But, where are the engines? Under the cockpit sole. At first we thought you would need to remove everything to get at them but then, we discovered the switch on the dashboard and with the press of a button a huge electric left went into action and picked up a large section of floor, table and all. From there, access to the engine and other vital mechanical systems was easy and convenient.

Also part of the great outdoors is the helm with double adjustable seat and side-mounted double companion seat. The array of instruments is very impressive. The wheel tilts for seated or standing operation and there’s a swing down foot rest too. The curved glass windshield has much appreciated opening side vents. A chart can be spread out on the dashboard top to add to the Raymarine chart plotter and autopilot on the test boat. We found everything well placed and it was a pleasure to drive the twin Volvo 8.1 GI 375’s.

Four Winns 378 Vista - GalleyThese 8.1 liter V8 inboard engines are huge and they accelerated the Four Winns Vista to planning speed in around 6 seconds; fast enough to send all you things flying below! The water lift mufflers keep things quiet but these lusty big engines raced up to hit the rev limiter at 4,900 rpm and doing 37 mph on GPS. We carried a full load of fuel and the boat was fully packed for a trip too.

The ride was comfortable and well controlled with easy banking into turns and a solid feel at all times. The 378 likes to go fast. It felt most efficient at about 3,400 or 3,500 rpm for high speed cruising. Luckily, it also cruises serenely at 1,000 rpm and 6.5 mph needing no helm correction and making it comfortable to get around on board while underway.

The final frontier for accommodation is the cabin. Rather than stuffing in more features that are too small to be useful, Four Winns made sure everything was man-sized and worked well. The port side companionway has under-step storage, the heat /AC controls, main electrical panel and entertainment equipment are there and the galley is directly ahead. Double refrigerators indicate Four Winns expects this boat to get used.

There’s a Corian-type counter, smallish sink, six lockers and two drawers, two burner stove, microwave, coffee maker and a flat screen TV that’s angled to the spacious dinette. The dinette or lounge area is almost as big as the cockpit seating; again cavernous storage under and this time, the table lifts out, the seat slides forward and it becomes a queen berth, open to the salon.

Four Winns 378 Vista - Engine room accessThe vee berth is also open (although both have curtains) and that makes it seem far more spacious. There are two cedar lined hanging lockers, abundant storage in the vee, another flat screen TV and finally, an enclosed head with separate shower stall. It’s really one large, well appointed cabin instead of being chopped up into a dangerously cramped aft cabin and other stuffy divided spaces. I like what Four Winns has done with the 378 Vista. Here’s a boat you can really live with, even on extended cruises.

Originally printed in Canadian Yachting’s October 2004 issue.

Technical specifications

378 Four Winns Vista express cruiser
Length OA with Swim platform 41’3” 12.6 m
Beam 12’9” 3.89 m
Weight 18,000 to 20,000 lbs 8,160 to 9,070 kg
Draft 42” 107 cm
Fuel 300 gal 1,134 L
Water 66 gal 249 L
Waste 42 gal 159 L

Four Winns 378 Vista - convertible dinetteEngines: Twin Volvo Penta 8.1 GI inboard engines, 375 hp fuel injected with ZF 63 IV transmissions.
RPM speed GPS
Idle in gear –800 4 mph
1000 6.5
1500 8.8
2000 10.5
2500 12
3000 18.6
3500 25.5
4000 29
4500 35
4,900 MAX 37

Test boat provided by: The Boat Warehouse and RV, 2157 Bath Road, Kingston, Ontario K7M 4Y3 613-634-3416
Price as tested quoted by: The Boat Warehouse and RV

Speed testing by: Garmin GPS

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 - Contemporary styling - traditional qualities
Photo 2 – The spacious and very complete helm is impressive but also effective with all controls including lit switches within an arms reach. Even with the top up, you have good visibility for about 270 degrees and a commanding view forward.
Photo 3 – Coming down the companionway to the galley, there’s a central vacuum system under the steps, the dark panels hide the electrical panel and controls for the heat/AC systems and the stereo and DVD. Two refridges are a great feature.
Photo 4 – Engine room access is through this large hatch in the cockpit sole. It lifts the dining table and even the aft bench seat all on an electric ram so you don’t have to lift it or dismantle the seats.
Photo 5 – The starboard side convertible dinette is very open, seats seven or more, comes with two movable bar stool seats, hi/lo table and the aft section slides out to make a queen berth. It is very accommodating and finished with touches like wooden blinds, several opening screened hatches and a full liner interior floor.

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