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Forest River Tsunami Print Email

The company's top-of-the-line diesel pusher for 2005 combines new slideout technology with a luxurious touch.

By Guy and Pamela Selbert
November 2004

The wave graphic emblazoned on the side of this elegant motorhome reveals its identity: Tsunami. The Japanese word for "tidal wave" also refers to a stunning diesel pusher produced by Forest River Inc.

The Tsunami is Forest River's first high-end type A diesel motorhome, which was introduced to the RV market for the 2002 model year. The 2005 version of the coach offers many exceptional features, several of which could indeed be called, as the company states, the "wave of the future."

For example, the slideouts in the Tsunami are operated by an ingenious system that does not take up any basement storage room. Other features of note include side-opening basement bay doors and a 400-horsepower Cummins electronic diesel engine. The beautifully designed, well-thought-out coach definitely makes a statement in the motorhome market.

Our test coach featured the 4104 QS floor plan, which is 41 feet 4 inches long. The exterior is made eye-catching with full-body paint. First to grab our attention was the giant crested wave that graces its exterior, so we took a closer look at this paint scheme. The design is painted on and then hand-rubbed and covered with four layers of clear coat, leaving virtually no ridge between paint colors. Dirt does not seem to cling to this finish, which makes the coach easy to wash.

The Tsunami is built on the Freightliner XC-Series raised-rail chassis and powered by an 8.9-liter 400-horsepower Cummins ISL electronic diesel engine coupled with an Allison 3000MH six-speed push-button automatic transmission. Freightliner equips the chassis with Michelin XZA2 295/80R LRH radial tires mounted on Accu-Shield aluminum rims, which are polished and then clear-coated and can be cleaned using only soap and water. All of this makes for easy driving and an excellent ride.

Handling, acceleration, and braking are first-rate. During our standard roll test, driving the coach over a curb cut on the diagonal, the Tsunami righted itself quickly and firmly on its air-bag suspension. The roll stopped in less than one full cycle. Our stop test — hard braking the coach from 60 mph to zero on a straight and level road — proved that the antilock-equipped full air brake system can handle this maneuver with aplomb. The coach came to a halt in short order with little dip or sway.

The Tsunami also behaved well on the highway. It is little bothered by the close passing of large trucks, and, due in large part to excellent visibility and nimble steering, it gives the driver plenty of confidence. There is nothing tentative about any handling characteristic, making the unit exceptionally easy to drive.

Tsunami living areaIf the Tsunami is easy on the eyes and easy to drive, it is also easy to live in, thanks to numerous conveniences. As you ascend the bus-style entry door, you’ll notice a gang of switches immediately to the left, located on the front of the passenger-side console. These control the entry lighting for the main cabin lights, entryway aisle lighting, porch light, storage bay lights, house battery disconnect switch, coach battery disconnect switch, entry step power, main awning, and entry door awning. The disconnect switches can be used to shut down all power in the coach, a convenient feature for when the unit will be parked for extended periods, or in an emergency.

Two remote controls come with keys for the coach; one operates the entry door lock and storage bay door locks, and the other runs the awnings above the entry door and patio area.

The side brackets of the patio awning are H-shaped and mounted high, out of head range. No more awning brackets to walk around as you enter or exit the coach on the way to or from the patio area — an especially nice feature when it's raining The patio awning is also equipped with a wind sensor that automatically retracts it in high winds.

Inside, the Tsunami has the roomy feel of a house. With the four slideouts extended, it provides 363 square feet of space divided among the luxurious living-dining-galley "great room"; the bath area; and the spacious bedroom with queen-size bed.

Tsunami galleyOur test coach was outfitted with abundant cabinets, all handcrafted from solid wood, as was the trim and two pocket doors. Four custom-crafted hardwood options are available: natural maple, cherry, walnut, and oak. Corian countertops combine with the beautiful wood to create a rich and luxurious look.

The automatic entry steps operate with an easy glide. The door on the test coach seemed to require a strong pull to open, but it could have been that we just needed to get used to the door. Regardless, it's likely that the manufacturer or dealer could adjust this if needed.

The cockpit area is sumptuous, to say the least. Genuine leather covers the Flexsteel captains chairs, which can be adjusted electrically. These seats are elegant and comfortable, and lend themselves to long days in the saddle. The copilot’s seat is also a recliner with a power footrest. Both cockpit seats can be turned rearward to provide living area seating when the coach is at rest. The three-point seat belts on the captains chairs are mounted inside the seats.

In the Tsunami cockpitThe instrument panel is well laid out and easy to read. The auxiliary dash on the driver’s left holds the panels for the automatic leveling system and controls for the Allison automatic transmission. Also in this neighborhood are controls for the parking brake, headlights, and the outside mirrors. A small readout screen on the left provides engine and transmission status and a trip log. The analog gauges on the dash in front of the driver are easy to read for the most part. With the steering wheel in a lower position, we did note that, for us, the speedometer and tachometer weren't as easy to see as they were with it in other positions.

The cockpit area also includes analog fuel, temperature, oil, and air pressure gauges, which are easily read at a glance. A center section of the dash is given to a cluster of indicator lights.

A Pioneer AM-FM radio equipped with a screen for the color backup camera is situated to the driver’s right. This first-rate appliance supplies high-quality sound through a DHS Surround Sound system and provides a good view to the rear. Our test coach incorporated the Trip-Tek motor coach trip computer, which manages trip information and engine and transmission status. The monitor displays a pretrip checklist when the engine is started, as well as trip statistics such as miles traveled and fuel economy. This is most useful.

Below is an open storage slot, which could hold a cell phone, eyeglasses, or other small incidentals. One more level down are the controls for the cockpit heat and air conditioning, and below that is a double row of switches. These control the acceleration pedal height, the dash fan, the horn, driving lights, and the engine brake, among other items.

In the center of all this technology is the tilting, telescoping Smart Wheel steering wheel, a great device. It puts many important controls at the driver's fingertips, such as buttons for flash-to-pass, the cruise control, and the windshield wipers. The wiper delay feature in the steering wheel can be reset as you like. Press the wiper delay button to run the wipers once, wait for rain to gather on the windshield, and press it again. The wipers "remember" the time between the two pushes to create the delay interval.

The carpeted living area is furnished with facing Flexsteel convertible sofas covered in genuine leather. Each sofa is inside an opposing slideout. On the curb side, the sofa is joined by the galley; on the street side, the sofa accompanies an elegant booth-style dinette.

The dinette features love-seat-style settees covered in luxurious leather that face a Corian-topped table. The seats are comfortable and should be able to accommodate up to four diners. Storage space is located beneath the settees. Backing this area is a mirrored china cabinet with a windowed upper story. The mirrors and glass lend an appearance of spaciousness. The lower cabinet is topped by a Corian dry sink, which augments the work area of the galley.

Because the galley is in the curbside slideout, the extra room adds a bit more (welcome) workspace. If all else fails to do so, the wall of beautifully crafted wood cabinets will make you want to run away from home and cook all your meals here. A roomy Corian countertop provides all the workspace a gourmet chef would require, and all the appliances are there as well.

A two-burner cooktop is mounted in the counter and concealed under a matching cover. That, plus the optional stainless-steel Advantium microwave-convection oven — equipped with matching range hood — will provide the chef an excellent platform from which to prepare a special meal.

Our test coach contained the optional 12-cubic-foot Amana side-by-side house-style refrigerator with ice maker. Although our test coach was not so equipped, a dishwasher is available as an option.

The attractive and practical hard flooring in the galley and bath areas consists of porcelain tile.

The center-aisle bath is located in the midsection of the unit. A toilet and small hand lavatory are located on the curb side of the coach in a separate "water closet" area. On the other side of the aisle is a corner-type shower that faces a regular-size sink.

In a departure from standard design, the Tsunami is equipped with a SeaLand ceramic toilet that has the VacuFlush system. The system provides suction to the waste-water flow and is equipped with a macerator, allowing for greater flexibility in the floor plan designs and layouts, as the black water tank can be uniformly placed in all floor plans where it will allow for better weight distribution, convenience, and coach ride and handling.

Tsunami bedroomThe bedroom is configured with the head of the bed on the rear wall. The bed is above the engine compartment, so the floor is one level. Plenty of storage is afforded in the wardrobes, closets, and drawers inside the two opposing bedroom slideouts — each one contains a vanity, too. The cabinetry throughout is exemplary and here in the bedroom it really shines; there is enough fine wood in the form of closets, vanities, cabinets, and drawers to make Louis XIV envious. For those who prefer more room than the 60-inch-by-80-inch queen-size bed provides, a 72-inch-by-80-inch king-size bed is available as an option on this floor plan.

We were intrigued by the slideouts in our test coach, which incorporate Norco Industries' Accu-Slide mechanisms. The works are located in a small compartment on top of each slideout section — a departure from typical under-floor roller-and-beam slideout assemblies. Using a series of chains and cables, the mechanism moves the rooms in and out, much the same way as a garage door opener works. Because it pulls on all four corners at the same time, locking assemblies are not necessary (in other slideout assemblies, the motive force of the system is on the bottom, and locks are required to secure the slideout when it is retracted). After you’ve leveled the Tsunami, you never have to worry about remembering to unlock a slideout room before you extend it. When it’s time to go, press the button again; the slideout retracts, and you’re ready to ramble.

Another benefit to this type of slideout mechanism is that it takes up no room in the basement. We think this is one of the best ideas we’ve seen lately.

The Tsunami is equipped with a powerful 3,100-watt Magnum inverter, which operates 110-volt equipment without the need for a generator or landline. The coach also carries an 8-kilowatt Onan diesel generator equipped with automatic start, which is triggered if the house batteries run low. The generator is located on a powered slideout tray in the coach’s nose.

Tsunami bathroomThe Tsunami also had the optional Aqua-Hot system, which heats a reservoir of glycol that then flows throughout the coach to radiators and also provides domestic hot water. The system also preheats the engine — a bonus to which diesel owners will attest. The Aqua-Hot warms the engine coolant for an easy start.

Controls for the Aqua-Hot, and for other household devices, such as the thermostat, charger-inverter, status lights, slideout switches, and so forth, are housed in a cabinet aft of the galley.

As in any first-class luxury motorhome, the entertainment gadgets in the Tsunami are top-drawer. The headliner in our test unit was the optional 32-inch Sony plasma flat-screen TV, which was connected to a Sony hi-fi VCR-DVD player and an optional in-motion satellite TV receiver. The picture and sound delivered through the DHS Surround Sound system is unusually good. A second flat-screen TV, this one a 15-inch model, is mounted in the bedroom ceiling, over the bed. The entertainment array also includes a 12-disc CD changer.

Tsunami window and wall treatments are first-rate. Padded valances surround each window, framing the day-night shades. The padded ceiling is Soft-Touch vinyl, and decorative wallboard covers the walls. Both seem easy to maintain. Lighting is provided by recessed fixtures in the ceiling and under the cabinets, and by movable reading lamps mounted to the sides of the valances. Fluorescent fixtures are located over the galley and along the center of the ceiling. Switches are placed logically and are easy to find.

The Tsunami has the look and feel of a coach that affords comfort, convenience, and ease of operation and maintenance. It drives well, has plenty of power, and handles easily. The tight turning radius allows this large coach to get out of surprisingly tight spots. (On one occasion, we parked in a nearly empty lot that filled up while we were there. Cars seemed to hem the coach in, but with a few turns of the steering wheel and attention to the backup camera, we pulled out without a problem.)

The base suggested retail price of the 4104 QS Tsunami is $302,372. Our test coach had the following options, which brought its price to $332,902: deluxe paint scheme; hardwood cherry cabinetry; 3,100-watt inverter with eight house batteries; 80-watt solar panel; slideout tray in storage bay; automatic generator start; 3M protective paint mask; Leather Magic bed; safe; Trip-Tek Message Center; Cobra handheld CB radio; Sony 32-inch plasma-screen TV; DSS in-motion auto tracking satellite system with DirecTV tuner; 30 Advantium stainless-steel microwave-convection oven with range hood; Amana 110-volt residential refrigerator; Aqua-Hot system.

When the Tsunami is in camp with its slideouts extended, it provides all the space and amenities one could expect from a first-class coach: fine seating, an excellent galley, and comfortable bed and bath areas. The coach is as cozy as a homestead and as attractive as a Park Avenue penthouse. Our advice: Ride the wave!


Manufacturer … Forest River Inc., 55470 County Road 1, Elkhart, IN 46515-3030; (574) 389-4600;
Model ... Tsunami
Floor plan ... 4104 QS
Chassis ... Freightliner XC-Series
Engine ... Cummins ISL turbocharged, aftercooled, 8.9-liter electronic diesel; 400 horsepower @1,900 rpm; 1,200 pound-feet torque @1,300 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 3000MH six-speed automatic
Axle ratio ... 4.63 to 1
Tires ... Michelin XZA2 295/80R 22.5, LRH
Wheelbase ... 276 inches
Brakes ... Full air with ABS; front — 17-inch disc; rear — 16.5-inch-by-7-inch drum
Suspension ... front — ZF-RL75EM IFS air; rear — Neway ADL air
Alternator ... Leece Neville, 200 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (2) 950-cca maintenance-free; house — (8) Interstate U2200 Workaholic
Steering ... 56-degree wheel cut, ZF-8018 integral hydraulic power gear
Inverter ... 3,100-watt Magnum
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Auxiliary generator ... 8-kw Onan diesel, automatic start
Exterior length ... 41 feet 4 inches
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 4 inches (with optional satellite)
Interior height ... 6 feet 6 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 49,600 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 34,600 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 14,600 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 12,820 pounds; rear — 19,640 pounds; total — 32,460 pounds
Payload ... 2,140 pounds
Frame construction ... aluminum heavy wall tube
Insulation ... polystyrene foam
Fresh water capacity ... 90 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 60 gallons; black water — 42 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 150 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 40 gallons
Water heater ... N/A with optional Aqua-Hot
Water delivery system ... demand
Furnace ... Aqua-Hot system
Air conditioner ... (1) 13,500-Btu roof air with heat pump (bedroom); (1) 15,000-Btu roof air with heat pump (living room)
Refrigerator ... 12-cubic-foot Amana residential side-by-side with ice maker (optional); 10-cubic foot double-door refrigerator-freezer with ice maker standard
Toilet ... Porcelain SeaLand with VacuFlush
Warranty ... coach — 1 year/24,000 miles; chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles
Base suggested retail price ... $302,372
Price as tested ... $332,902


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