The 37 Cruiser combines style, comfort, and amenities. Belowdecks she has sleeping for six and 6’ 7” headroom. Abovedecks, her designer, John Adams, optimized the cockpit layout for socializing and entertaining. (The hardtop is optional.)
Sterndrives Play Well with Pods
Pod drives have given many boatbuilders fits, since adapting a conventional inboard-powered hull for them is problematic: The engines sit way aft, which shifts the center of gravity in a hull designed for conventional power. But today most everybody wants pods, so builders are forced to modify their designs to make them work, frequently widening the beam aft to better support the engines. No problem with the 37 Cruiser, though: She was created for sterndrive power, so switching to pods doesn't move the engines much– it just means installing them a little differently.
The man at the helm of the 37 Cruiser is also at the helm of Formula: He's Scott Porter, company president and son of the founder, Vic Porter. Note there's a joystick ahead of the throttles – it controls the Axius system linked to this boat's twin MerCruiser sterndrives.
Cookin' With Gas
BoatTEST.com's captains have tested the 37 Cruiser several times over the past nine years, with gas sterndrives and diesel pods, so we have hands-on proof that the boat performs just fine with either power. With twin 375-hp Volvo Penta 8.1Gi Duoprops, our skipper discovered a top speed of 44.6 mph (71.8 kph), best cruise of 30.5 mph (49.1 kph) with a range at that speed of 190 mi. (306 km). These engines are still offered, but today they are catalyzed to meet emissions rules, and have electronic controls; base price is $486,610. Twin 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG EC Bravo 3s ($479,080) are in the same power range, and should produce similar performance.
A step down from the helm, the cockpit has plenty of seating, and tables for lunch or apres-cruise refreshments. The upholstery is treated with PreFixx coating to resist the elements, and built around DriFast foam and StarLite XL synthetic panels. There are fifteen stainless steel drink holders arrayed around the helm and cockpit, too.
We also tested the boat with a pair of 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Bravo 3s with Axius controls; today that engine has been replaced by the 430-hp 8.2 MAG High Output EC Bravo 3 ($495,510, plus $19,795 for Axius). The new engines have digital throttles and shifts, and catalytic converters. We think the performance should be roughly the same. Our captain measured a top speed of 46.9 mph (75.5 kph), best cruise of 30.7 mph (49.4 kph) and a cruising range of 190 mi. (306 km), same as the smaller engines.
If you don't like the cockpit, there are two sunpads on the foredeck; tilt-up backs turn them into chaises. The welded stainless-steel bow rail sits atop a hull-to-deck joint that's both chemically bonded and through-bolted, and protected by a PVC rubrail with a stainless insert. Formula builds all their boats to the same take-no-prisoners standards.
Diesel Pods Have Long Range
And now we come to pods. In 2007, when pods were newfangled gizmos that many folks thought would never last, Formula offered them as optional power aboard the 37 Cruiser – at that time, twin 300-hp Volvo Penta IPS400s. Our captain discovered the boat ran slower at top end than with the substantially more powerful gas sterndrive engines -- 37.9 mph (61 kph) -- but cruised only a tad slower, 28.6 mph (46 kph). However, range skyrocketed to 295 statute mi. (475 km). Welcome to the world of diesel, and pod, efficiency. Today the diesel pod option is twin 330-hp IPS450s ($579,840).
No matter what power they're carrying, all 37 Cruisers look the same above the waterline. We like the port and starboard access to the integrated platform and the transom trunk for stowing docklines and fenders. The optional hardtop adds 700 lbs weight, $18,435 in cost.
Formula also offers the 37 Cruiser with twin 370-hp Volvo Penta D6 Duoprops ($560,230) and twin 400-hp gas IPS550 pods ($520,900). We haven't tested the boat with either of these engines.
More Than Just Engines
The Formula 37 Cruiser is more than just engines: She's a well-found express cruiser that will sleep four in two cabins, plus two more if the dinette is converted. She has a complete galley with a two-burner electric stove, dual-voltage fridge, microwave oven and, most important for many of us, a Krups coffee maker. A 7.3-kW Kohler gas or 7.6-kW Kohler diesel genset is standard to power the appliances.
The layout is typical – stateroom forward, mid-cabin aft, dinette, galley and head in-between – but the 37 Cruiser's length of 37' 0" (11.28 m) without the platform and beam of 12' 0" (3.66 m) provides plenty of area to spread out the accommodations.
In a yacht this size, closing off the forward cabin with a solid bulkhead doesn't turn the salon into a claustrophobe's nightmare. There's still plenty of elbow room. The joinery is deep cherry, the cabin sole American cherry, upholstery is Ultraleather. Formula equips the 37 Cruiser very well, including air conditioning, central vac, an upscale stereo systems and HDTV/DVDs in both the salon and forward cabin.
Rather than isolated behind a bulkhead, the mid-cabin is open to the salon and can double as a lounge area; it has its own table, so will also be good for feeding kids and keeping them out of their parents' hair at dinnertime. The head is behind the door at right. The accommodations are protected by carbon monoxide detectors; if your boat doesn't have any, install one in each cabin this season.
The head is a VacuFlush "Flush and Forget" unit, the vanity has a Corian counter and cherry door, the sink is polished stainless and the faucet looks like it came off the starship Enterprise. At dockside, hook up to marina water rather than pull from the boat's tanks; the plumbing is installed as standard.
If you're shopping price first, don't bother your Formula dealer -- these boats live near the top of the price range, and with good reason: They are well-engineered, well-built, well-appointed and well-finished. They also come with a sterling reputation among folks who know boats, and none of the preceding comes cheap. On the other hand, Formula equips their boats, including the 37 Cruiser, exceptionally well for the "standard" price; many builders lure you in with a low MSRP, then clean you out on options. You can buy a Formula 37 Cruiser with no options, other than choosing your power, and have a perfectly fine boat.
So our recommendation is this: If you have the budget, you won't go wrong shopping at your Formula dealer, and the 37 Cruiser is one of the company's best models. It's been around for almost a decade, has been fine-tuned and upgraded continually during its life and is an excellent example of an express cruiser. We say check it out, if only to find out what you're missing by not owning a Formula.
Some folks like multiple TVs, others insist on 15-speaker stereo systems – but we're seafaring folks here at BoatTEST.com, and we run on coffee. Formula installs a Krups on every 37 Cruiser, for us reason enough to buy the boat. Now, how about adding an espresso machine to the options list?