This veteran manufacturer’s newest quad-slide luxury motorhome promises state-of-the-art systems and top-of-the-line conveniences.
By Lazelle Jones
After two years of intensive planning and design, Foretravel Inc. of Nacogdoches, Texas, unveiled its new company flagship: the IH series. This ultra-luxurious home on wheels joins the Phenix and Nimbus to round out Foretravel’s current motorhome lines.
Earlier this year I had an opportunity to inspect the IH-45 at Pelican Lake, a luxury motorhome resort in Naples, Florida. Lyle Reed, Foretravel chairman, was previewing the coach at the resort following its introduction at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa. After two days of total immersion with this model, I concluded that the IH-45 has set a new benchmark for the company, and that it will be used to measure and judge other luxury coach efforts for some time to come.
Design And Drivability
Foretravel designers started with a clean slate when developing the new Foretravel IH series. They incorporated the knowledge amassed from almost 45 years of coach building, especially the experience gained from producing the Phenix and Nimbus models, both of which were launched within the past five years. In addition, valuable input was gathered from current Foretravel owners, who are out using their Foretravel motorhomes. Designers also were encouraged to utilize cutting-edge technologies. The resulting IH-45 represents the culmination of all those efforts.
With a full load of fuel (200 gallons), a full load of fresh water (135 gallons), and an estimated 500 pounds of cargo, the IH-45 was weighed at a certified scale in Naples. Its gross vehicle weight came to 49,260 pounds. Lyle notified me later that during his return trip to Nacogdoches, the IH-45 registered a fuel consumption rate of 6.6 mpg — in my opinion, a respectable figure for a coach of this size. Plus, fuel economy will no doubt improve as the new engine loosens up.
The IH is available in 40-foot and 42-foot lengths, in addition to the 45-foot IH-45 that I put under the microscope.
Foretravel motorhomes are built on the company’s own Travelride chassis. The IH series is based on the Travelride II chassis, which features twin 10-inch structural C-channel beams. This reflects an increase in size and strength from the 8-inch C-channel beams used on the other Foretravel models. The Travelride II enables the motorhome to host and distribute the weight from some of the largest slideouts in the market — four in the IH-45. For example, the largest slideout, on the front driver’s side, measures 200 inches long and 35 inches deep.
Even with the larger C-channel beams, the rear floor of the motorhome (which houses the coach-wide bath and wardrobe in this case) is totally flat. You simply can’t tell that underneath this floor lies a huge Cummins diesel engine.
With this new added capacity to accommodate greater loads and larger slideouts, Foretravel designers took the opportunity to increase the interior height of the IH Series from 81 inches to 84 inches (get ready, NBA). The interior height of the exterior cargo pass-through bays has been increased by 2 inches, compared to past models, and the height of the side-mounted pantographic doors on the cargo bay openings increased by 4 inches. These doors articulate out and then to the side to accommodate ease of access to the cargo bays beneath the slideouts.
Also consider the width of the front entry door, which has been increased from 28 to 32 inches, making it one of the largest entryways among luxury motor coaches. It is nicely complemented by the entryway stairwell, which curves gently to the left as it sweeps up and inside to the living area.
The IH-45’s exterior reflects the new look of this model line, incorporating redesigned front and rear end caps and an aesthetically pleasing roofline. However, beyond the visual appeal, the design augments the coach’s ability to slip effortlessly through the air when motoring down the road at interstate speeds. One detects little if any noise from the road or around the windshield or windows, even at high speeds. This in part is achieved by the way the super-large entry door is secured when the transmission is put in travel mode. The thick crush gaskets that surround the door are further sealed by locking pins that are activated when the transmission is shifted into “drive.” I can attest that with the IH-45’s excellent handling, quiet ride, and air-ride-modulated driver’s seat, even long driving days will be completed in comfort and with minimal fatigue.
Kudos are directed at Foretravel designers for the virtual SilverLeaf electronic instrumentation panel in the cockpit. The driver can choose from analog or digital displays. The driver also can select what performance data he or she wants displayed and where the virtual instruments should appear on the panel. These can be changed immediately whenever the driver chooses to do so or when a new driver takes over. The SilverLeaf touch-control screen gives quick access to electrical power usage, battery condition, charging and inverter status, tank levels, climate controls, Aqua-Hot functions, generator operations, the water system, and tile heat settings.
Toggle switches on the dash make adjustments to the SmartWheel steering wheel (in-out and tilt) as simple as touching a button. Plus, with the GPS and the large, three-piece side mirrors and exterior cameras, the driver stays well-informed.
The 650-horsepower, turbocharged Cummins ISX diesel engine develops 1,950 pound-feet of torque, which is more than sufficient to tow a horse trailer or a toy hauler. The IH-45 is rated to tow 18,000 pounds and hosts a tongue weight limit of 2,700 pounds. The six-speed Allison 4000 MHR transmission comes internally married to a pneumatic retarder, which uses fluid instead of an engine brake to slow the coach. A retarder control stick, located to the left of the driver, is adjustable to six different degrees of retarding or slowing.
One feature that should not be overlooked is the amount of storage both inside and outside the IH-45. The exterior compartments include two huge coach-wide pass-through bays with slide-out cargo trays that may be accessed from either side of the vehicle, making gear stowed in the middle of the tray easy to reach. Two non-pass-through bays are located on the curb side. Altogether these exterior bays yield 184 cubic feet of cargo storage capacity.
Inside, the IH-45 offers 124 cubic feet of closet space, in addition to 101 cubic feet of storage in drawers, cabinets, and shelves. For the full-timing couple or those who simply want to bring more with them than they will ever need, the storage capacity in the IH-45 will be appreciated.
Construction And Features
All IH-45 models are hand-built from the ground up. Foretravel’s Travelride II chassis is created in three sections, which are then welded and huck-bolted together. The huck-bolt technique is utilized in the building of railroad cars, where strength and long-term dependability are of paramount importance. The length of the middle section determines the overall length of the coach. Other than that, all Foretravel IH models are built the same. Foretravel also adds the ISIS multiplex chassis wiring system for exterior lights, as well as to accommodate engine functions and data collection.
A 6-inch-thick subfloor creates the electrical raceway where the wiring and plumbing run. The Spyder Control multiplex system manages the all-LED interior lighting, electric shades, roof vents, water pump, generator start/stop, and 12-volt disconnect via trunk line cable, with drops to individual control panels. The thickness of the floor also provides insulation between the exterior and interior temperature differentials, and it prevents road noise and vibrations from entering the coach. The interior floor covering is then added. On the unit I reviewed, this consisted of porcelain tile, with a heat blanket added between the tile and the subfloor to keep the tile warm to the touch even on the coldest of days or nights. Users may adjust the amount of warmth.
The IH-45’s Travelride II chassis is enhanced with a Reyco-Granning independent front suspension, an Arvin-Meritor drive axle, and a liftable Ridewell tag axle. On-the-road smoothness is ensured by the HWH Active Air air-ride/leveling system and eight Firestone air bags. The massive air bags are mounted outboard of the wheels to provide the greatest amount of cushion adjustability and handling control. HWH’s Active Air system instantly adjusts to wind turbulence (i.e., a burst of crosswind) and prevents the coach from leaning when making emergency maneuvers or exiting off-ramps. It serves as the automatic leveling system once a destination is reached.
The front wheels come with Michelin 365/70R 22.5 size tires; the drive axle and liftable tag feature Michelin 315/80R 22.5 tires. Customers can elect to have the 365 tires installed on the tag axle wheels, but according to Foretravel officials, the 315 tires have the necessary load capacity. Real-time monitoring of tire air pressure is another data point provided to the driver on the SilverLeaf cockpit monitor screen.
The walls and roof of the IH-45 feature welded tubular steel and aluminum structural members that are packed with foam insulation. The slideouts (also built by Foretravel) are powered by HWH hydraulics. After the floor-to-ceiling handcrafted cabinets are set in place, the walls are added and the roof set on top. The all-fiberglass exterior walls receive full body paint and graphics, which are the choice of the client, including custom paint schemes. Foretravel can match the paint and graphics of any trailer with that of the coach.
The electronics on the IH-45 are cutting-edge. In addition to the Spyder Control System, two 3,000-watt water-cooled inverters and a house battery pack consisting of six gel-cell deep-cycle batteries can power everything with the exception of the washer/dryer and four 15,000-Btu roof air conditioners with heat pumps. Foretravel has incorporated an auto-start Onan 12/18 hybrid diesel-powered auxiliary generator in the electrics package for a very specific reason. This hybrid gen set takes 12-volt-DC power from the house batteries and mixes it with the generator’s 120-volt, 75-amp electrical power for those peak demand times (up to 18,000 watts) when temporary spikes in electrical usage occur — for example, when everything electrical (120-volt) is loaded or brought online simultaneously.
Exterior comfort features include electric water hose and shore power cable reels; coach-length, roof-mounted Girard awnings; and an efficiently mounted exterior 46-inch flat-screen TV on a rotating mounting bracket that locks into the end of the slideout underneath the kitchen cabinet.
As one might expect, this high-end motorhome boasts state-of-the-art entertainment systems. A home theater speaker system, a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player, and an in-motion satellite system with two HD receivers are standard equipment. A patio entertainment center with its own HD receiver is also available. In the galley, standard appointments include a two-burner electric (glass) cooktop, a microwave oven, and a 120-volt residential refrigerator with in-door ice and water. A built-in vacuum, a water filter, and designer window treatments are just a few other noteworthy items included in the IH-45. The choices of handcrafted woods come from around the world and include African mahogany and bubinga. Our unit featured the naturally finished bubinga wood.
With its elegant appointments, gorgeous fabrics, and residential accoutrements, the Foretravel IH-45 will please many a luxury coach enthusiast. Throw in the “technology” items engineered to maximize construction, roadworthiness, etc., and this luxury home on wheels is a must-see for the discerning RVer.
Foretravel Inc., 1221 N.W. Stallings Drive, Nacogdoches, TX 75964; (800) 955-6226; www.foretravel.com
Custom Bath and a Half — Quad Slide
(2) in living room; (2) in bedroom; all flush-mount, pneumatic-sealed
TravelRide II by Foretravel
Cummins ISX, 650 horsepower @ 1,900 rpm, 1,950 pound-feet torque @ 1,300 rpm
Allison 4000 MHR with retarder
4.30 to 1
Michelin; front — 365/70R 22.5; rear — 315/80R 22.5
Alcoa Durabrite; front — 22.5 x 10.5; rear — 22.5 x 9
air disc brakes with ABS on all wheels
air bags with HWH Active Air
front — Koni adjustable;
rear — Koni FSD
dual TRW system integrated in front axle
coach — (6) gel cell, 210 amps each;
chassis — (3) Group 31, 925 cca each
(2) — 3,000-watt liquid-cooled
Onan Hybrid 12/18
44 feet 8 ½ inches
101 3/8 inches
13 feet 5½ inches (to top of satellite dome)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 20,000 pounds;
rear — 23,000 pounds;
tag — 14,000 pounds
(full fresh water and fuel tanks; approximately 500 pounds of cargo)
front axle — 16,700 pounds;
rear axle — 20,600 pounds;
tag axle — 11,960 pounds;
total — 49,260 pounds
OCCUPANT & CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
TravelRide II — welded steel and aluminum; 10-inch structural steel backbone; internal trussing in subfloor; trussing in sidewalls
polystyrene; roof, sidewalls, subfloor — 1½ inches; floor — 5 inches
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
N/A — all-electric
Aqua-Hot – tankless on-demand
Aqua-Hot AHE-600, 56,000-Btu diesel with (2) 2,000-watt electric elements
(4) 15,000-Btu with heat pumps
25-cubic-foot side-by-side residential; ice maker with ice and water in door
(2) SeaLand with macerator
coach — 24 months/24,000 miles;
structure — 60-months/100,000 miles
engine — 60-months/100,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED