Coming from a background of commercial and sportfishing, I've always had a special place in my heart for sportfishing boats. After speaking at length to Jon Willman, factory representative for Rampage, I was really looking forward to testing the 2004 Rampage 38 Express. Jon explained that in building the 38 Express, Rampage had designed a top class boat for the serious fisherman while still keeping in mind the comfort of your significant others.
It was a rainy and snowy day when I headed over to Bay Point Marina to check out the 38 Express for myself. On a personal note I have to thank the guys at Russo Marine, even though the weather was cold and rainy they were extremely helpful. The 2004 38 express has kept the classic offshore lines of earlier models, while changes have been made to the helm and saloon areas. Rampage has obviously done a lot of research on what the consumer wants and needs in a sportfisher.
At the Helm
The helm area of the 38 is spacious and well thought out. The seating arrangement allows for people to sit facing forward, which is great when the weather is rough. The co-pilot seat swivels from facing the captain's seat, to a forward facing position. The view from the copilot's seat has a completely unobstructed view, and a slightly recessed chart table in the dash is covered by Plexiglas for easy viewing. The captain's area is also smartly laid out and has an equally unobstructed view.
The dash area offers plenty of space to flush mount whatever electronics the owner may desire. Rampage has also moved away from analog engine gauges in favor of electronic gauges that not only save space but in my opinion are more accurate and last longer. The electronic throttle and shift controls on the 38 Express are manufactured by ZF, and operate smooth as silk. The slight hesitation in electronic controls takes a bit of getting used to, but nothing a minute or two of use won't take care of. The entire control station of the helm is hinged in order to tilt back, allowing access to steering, gauges, electronics, and wiring.
Second Helm Station
A second control station is located in the tower, which allows the operator to maneuver the vessel from a higher vantage point. The tower is constructed of aluminum and is extremely stable. The area around the control station is also padded for safety and comfort, and the tower also offers extra rod holders (rocket launchers) along the back edge.
Rampage paid attention to customer feedback when designing the 38 Express, and it shows. The cockpit is completely unobstructed, and large enough to work a few fish at the same time. The gunwales on the cockpit are padded, and at just the right height. The 55-gallon livewell is neatly integrated into the transom and out of the way. On the starboard side next to the livewell is the transom door, which when closed you won't even know it’s there. Two large fish boxes with macerator pumps are flush mounted in the sole of the cockpit, and forward in the cockpit is a sink with a tackle storage area below. The 38 we tested had the must have optional freezer boxes on both the port and starboard side of the cockpit.
From the cockpit to the foredeck, following a fish won't be any problem at all. Rampage has left plenty of width for and easy walk to the bow. The bow of the 38, like the cockpit has plenty of room to work. The entire bow is surrounded by a stainless steel rail, providing safety and a stable handhold when moving around.
The saloon area below deck in the 2004 38 offers a getaway full of creature comforts. The galley area is redesigned with more space in the food prep and sink area, and plenty of storage below. For 2004 all the cabinet doors are wood instead of the Plexiglas, which was used on previous models. This gives the galley a much more elegant look. Other changes to the boat included placing the microwave in the sink area and positioning the television monitor facing the dining area. The dining area will seat 4-5 comfortably in a wraparound booth seat, in the middle of which is the dining table.
The floor of the 2004 38 express has a wood finish which really highlights the cabinetry. An inspection hatch lifts up in the floor of the saloon and provides additional storage for 6 seven-foot rods. Forward in the saloon is the berth area, which can sleep four adults comfortably with lighting and privacy curtain. Being down below in the 38, I was impressed by the seven feet of headroom. This makes a big difference in the look and feel below deck.
To the port side of the saloon is the head. I didn't expect it to have as much room as it did but to my surprise the head had a full-size shower with a half-round Plexiglas door separating it from the sink and toilet area. This is not your run of the mill boat, so you wouldn’t expect the head to be any different.
With the flip of a switch the entire cockpit of the 38 Express’s floor is hydraulically raised exposing an immaculate engine compartment. The two 480-hp Cummins 480Cs have been allowed plenty of space to work in and around them. On the port side of the engine room is the generator, and directly forward in the engine room is the fire suppression system. All wiring, fuel lines, battery boxes, and plumbing are neat, and seem to have been installed with the person who would be servicing things in mind.
The most notable feature of this engine compartment is the entire bilge area under and around the engine. This whole area is a one-piece molded fiberglass tray. This tray contains fluid spills, and makes cleaning them up extremely easy.
The seas on test day were 1-2 ft and the wind 10-12 knots, with rain and some snow, so this was not much of a challenge for the 38 Express, but coming from the West Coast staying warm was a bit of a challenge for me. The 38 was responsive when getting out of the slip and during close quarter maneuvering she did not lunge forward or backwards too quickly. One contributing factor to this is the “slow boat” mode on the 38. Push a button on the controls and engine rpm is governed to a manageable speed, which makes maneuvering more precise.
After hitting a larger swell or two in open water, I found the re-entry to be fairly smooth with her 19-degree deadrise. We made a few tight turns at speed, and the 38 never bogged down one bit, just powered right through. Flat out top speed in the 38 Express is 32.8 mph at 2680 rpm, and we found her best cruise the be 18 mph at 1750 rpm. With a fuel capacity of 400 gallons she has a cruising range of 253 miles.
All in all, the 2004 Rampage 38 Express offers a great vessel to get you offshore to the fishing grounds while making your first mate almost forget you are on a sportfisher.
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) is 37.7 mph (60.7 kph), burning 49.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 187.74 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) is 20.7 mph (33.3 kph), and the boat gets 1.29 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.55 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 466 miles (749.95 kilometers).
Tested power is 2 x 480-hp Cummins 480C.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Standard and Optional Equipment
Dripless Shaft Seals
Washdown: Fresh Water
Washdown: Raw Water
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
Boats More Than 30 Feet
= Standard = Optional
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Warranty
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Price
Rampage 38 Express (2004- ) Price
Base Price (MSRP)
Price as Tested
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
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