Winnebago’s 38-foot Forza motorhome scores points for adding space and comfort for two, three, or more campers
Remember the Wrigley’s Doublemint chewing gum ads from the 1970s and ’80s? Showing two of everything, along with the catchy jingle, reinforced the fact that twice the mint flavor was better than the single flavor of the competition. While much of marketing is centered around “bigger is better,” motorhome full-timers have historically given up the size and comfort of a stick-and-bricks home for mobility and a carefree lifestyle on the road.
There are, of course, trade-offs. Many couples enjoy having their own spaces at home to prepare for the day at the same time in the workaday world, such as separate baths and/or an office space. Of course, old habits die hard, and that lack of duality in a motorhome has undoubtedly chased some from the lifestyle.
Enter the 2020 Winnebago Forza 38D, a unique answer to seasoned adults looking for elbowroom and workspace. It capitalizes on the two of everything living concept many of us enjoy in our homes — and it works.
To be honest, some of us questioned the concept of two full baths in a motorhome … or any RV for that matter. After all, why would anyone want to reduce living space for two full bathrooms? Typically, buyers assume that a second full bath is going to make the interior too cramped. To determine the effectiveness of this new concept, we tested this new Forza at the Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort in Clermont, Florida, a 1,129-site Encore/Thousand Trails facility built around a challenging 18-hole golf course, complete with pro shop and store. Suffice it to say, we’re sold on the floorplan and overall feel of the coach.
The Inside Scoop
RV interiors traditionally follow popular tastes in design, and the Forza is no exception. The test motorhome was tastefully appointed in various shades of gray and white, with a smattering of black and stainless steel, creating a relaxing, bright atmosphere. Light gray wood-plank style vinyl flooring makes for a neutral, easy-to-clean surface that stretches from front to back. In fact, aside from the floor protectors by the front seats, there’s not a stitch of carpet anywhere. Given the dry and sandy conditions we encountered in central Florida, we were grateful for the ease of cleaning up during our stay.
Just behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats in this front-entry diesel sit the galley and large booth-style dinette, followed by the living room. For some, a front kitchen presents a love-hate relationship, but the configuration is very useful and convenient, especially for grabbing refreshments on the road. The galley is set in a streetside slideout and features a stainless-steel Whirlpool refrigerator/freezer with ice maker and travel lock, three-burner Suburban range and a 1.9-cubic-foot Whirlpool convection microwave, also clad in stainless steel. The solid-surface countertop with double-sided stainless-steel sink offers adequate prep space, especially when then sink and range covers are in place.
Storage is adequate throughout the living space, supported by plenty of drawers, cabinets and a small pantry. Lift the dinette bench seats and a trunk-sized storage area (less the space for the TV’s subwoofer) will hold a large assortment of goodies. The dinette has abundant space for people, too — it’s clad in well-padded vinyl and converts into an additional 70-by-42-inch bed, with a gas-assist table-lowering mechanism. Cup holders and seat belts make this a very usable space for a family while on the road.
Also, in notable Winnebago fashion, additional sleeping for two can be found on the electric overhead bunk above the driver and passenger seats.
The living area in our test unit featured the optional dual reclining theater seating in front of the seemingly massive 50-inch Samsung smart 4K HDTV with paired soundbar and the aforementioned subwoofer. An electric fireplace is just below, but we felt let down by the quality of the cartoon-like flame effect and would replace it with one of the better available units. The cabinet above the TV conceals the Samsung smart DVD player as well as connections for satellite TV and signal sharing to the other TVs.
The TV wall abuts the forward full bath, which rivals many single RV bathrooms in size and style. A square ABS plastic shower with glass sliding door is plenty roomy for a 6-footer to shower and more than enough floor space to dry off. The vanity has adequate storage, and there’s a ceramic bowl toilet with foot-pedal flush directly under a large side window. Lighting is good, making this a completely usable full bathroom.
Directly across from the forward bath is a long, two-person “hobby station” desk with overhead cabinets and a center drawer pack. It plays right into the concept of providing individual space for couples. At first, we were concerned that the raised-floor slide would inhibit usability, but that turned out to not be the case. The setup worked well, and owners will find this desk quite useful for projects or for those working on the road. Space that is typically configured for bunks was outfitted with ample power connections, cable grommets in the desk and the cabinet above for a printer, and elastic electronics holders on the underside of the upper cabinet. What’s more, the drawer pack is removable, and cushions are included to convert the desk and floor into temporary bunks if the dinette and drop-down bed above the cockpit are not enough. There’s room up above for some additional shelving in the corner, and the area can even house a 27-inch monitor. The window on the wall is good for thoughtful gazing, or owners can employ the MCD day/night shades, featured throughout the rig, to help block out distractions.
The master bedroom is roomy and fitted with a queen dual-air adjustable mattress. The mattress was quite comfortable, as these style beds usually are, and the dual bedside stands with receptacles, wireless and USB charging stations and side windows complement the surroundings. A panel above the headboard allows control of lighting. A basic flat-screen TV (not a smart TV) folds down out of a special cabinet in the ceiling. The motorhome is equipped with a KING wireless internet access system, which was connected to the living room TV with great results, but since we had no cable at the site, bedroom TV viewing was limited to over-the-air offerings.
Clothing storage across from the bed features a large closet above and sizable drawers below.
The master bathroom occupies the rear of the motorhome and is equipped with a rectangular ABS plastic shower with glass sliding door, Tecma macerating toilet, a single stainless sink, and separate washer and dryer units (optional). The medicine cabinet and drawers in the vanity offer ample storage; however, there are a couple of caveats here. First, because the bathroom is built atop the engine doghouse, the shower pan has to be lifted to allow space for plumbing. This reduces headroom considerably, but in other motorhomes, this headspace is made up with the skylight, making it usable. In this case, the skylight features an integrated LED, which is cool, but a noggin-knocker for a 6-footer. We’d ditch the skylight with integrated lighting for a standard or high-rise model and install small LED lighting around the shower. Such lighting is available on the market and wouldn’t get in the way.
Normally stacked or side by side in RVs, the separate Whirlpool washer and dryer units in the Forza take up all the large storage space in the bathroom. The dryer is behind an aluminum “garage door” to the right of and facing the sink, while the washer is in an adjacent cabinet to the sink, facing the toilet. Above the washer is a storage cabinet, but space is taken up by the cold-water hookup, hoses and various wiring, not only making the storage less usable, but the hot water connection is nowhere to be found. We assume it is buried behind the washer, requiring modifications of the cabinetry to reach it. This isn’t an ideal design in our opinion.
Unless you really have an aversion to using the RV park laundry facility, skip the washer/dryer option and use the storage space for towels and linens.
The Forza’s electronics, appliances and systems are excellent. The coach is equipped with the Vegatouch Eclipse multiplexing system, which worked pretty well. It features an amidships touchpad, and a smart device app with global connect, backed up by switch panels in key locations. As long as the KING Wi-Fi system is connected to the internet, operation and monitoring of the motorhome’s systems can be done from anywhere. A few of the switches were labeled backward, but that’s an easy fix with the right programmer.
The dash stereo has a large screen and monitors the side- and rear-view outside cameras. The JBL system sounds really good, which is a welcome feature over the less-than-stellar systems found in many other RVs. A Magnum 2,000-watt inverter/charger system, along with a Cummins Onan 6-kW diesel generator, ensure power when and where you need it. From an HVAC standpoint, the Forza makes sure you’re comfortable, with dual 15,000-Btu Coleman-Mach air conditioners, one of which is equipped with a heat pump, controlled through the multiplexing system. If more warmth is desired, dual 20,000-Btu propane furnaces are at your disposal. The pièce de résistance, however, is the Truma AquaGo endless gas water heater, which provides plenty of hot water to both showers, sinks and the washer, if equipped.
Behind the Wheel
The Forza is built on the Freightliner XCS chassis, powered by a 340-hp Cummins ISB 6.7-liter diesel; the rig has the new OptiView digital dash and redesigned steering column. No complaints here, except the driver’s seat could use some extra height for taller peeps. Otherwise, every control is easily seen and reached. Electronic MCD windshield shades allow shading from the sun or an open view.
This is a pretty big motorhome, but the 340-hp powerplant with the Allison 2500MH series six-speed transmission moved the mass nicely. NeWay front suspension and V-ride rear suspension up the handling ante, realized by putting the motorhome through various real-life driving scenarios including hills, U-turns and lane changes, both at highway speed and at low speed while maneuvering through the resort. Gone are the transmission touchpad and many other dash-mounted control switches, now part of the new TRW steering column, smart wheel and control stalks.
The passenger seat in the Forza cockpit looks like it is straight out of the first-class section of a commercial airliner, but better. The plush soft vinyl seat reclines, plus it has an integrated, fully adjustable, flip-up table that comes out of the right armrest. Down on the side are USB and AC power connections. In the dash is a lift-up panel with storage and 12-volt DC and USB charge points. Task lighting in the side overhead cabinets can be turned on as needed, and storage is everywhere. Both seats have six-way power and also turn around to enhance living room seating.
The Outside Story
The Forza’s street appearance, bolstered by the full-body paint, is outstanding. The modern fiberglass front and rear caps, along with the tasteful graphic treatment, make the coach stand out. A 20-foot lateral-arm awning keeps the patio cooler on warm days to better enjoy the exterior entertainment center’s TV and stereo. Basement storage is plentiful. The exterior utility and electrical bays are quite workable; however, adding a cable reel for the 50-amp shorepower cord would be a welcome addition or option. All the lateral opening compartment doors are tight and fit well.
The Final Word
This motorhome has a $300,000 MSRP, which positions it at the lower end of the price spectrum for a diesel pusher, yet has much of the equipment and feel of a mid-price point coach. While this unit doesn’t have tile floors, fiberglass showers and fancy ceiling features, everything is comfortable, well-made and usable. The floorplan sleeps six but is really ideal for two people who like to have their own, well … one of everything.
Motorhome owners looking to upgrade to a diesel pusher with good road manners, plenty of capacity, livability, storage and features for extended travel, will want to put the 2020 Winnebago Forza 38D on their shopping lists.
Winnebago Industries Inc. | 641-585-3535, winnebago.com
Model Freightliner XCS
Engine Cummins ISB 6.7-liter
SAE Hp 340 @ 2,600 rpm
Torque 700 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle Ratio 4.78:1
Brakes Front/Rear Air, antilock disc
Suspension Front/Rear NeWay front air IFS/V-Ride rear air
Fuel Capacity 90 gal
Fuel Economy 7 mpg (est.)
Warranty 3 years/50,000 miles
Exterior Length 39′ 10″
Exterior Width 8′ 5.5″
Exterior Height with A/C 12′
Interior Width 8′ 0.5″
Interior Height 6′ 8″
Construction Vacubond fiberglass roof and side walls with aluminum frame/
Freshwater Capacity 100 gal
Black-water Capacity 49 gal
Gray-water Capacity (2) 48 gal/51 gal
Water-heater Capacity On-demand
Propane Capacity 23.5 gal
Air Conditioner (2) 15,000 Btu with heat pump/15,000 Btu
Furnace (2) 20,000 Btu
Refrigerator 18-cu-ft residential
Batteries (4) 6-volt
AC Generator 6.5-kW diesel
MSRP as Tested $299,436
Warranty 3 years, 100,000 miles,
10-year roof skin
Wet Weight (Water and water heater, fuel, propane tanks full; no supplies or passengers)
Total 25,870 lbs
Maximum trailer weight 10,000 lbs
GAWR, Front/Rear 10,410/19,000 lbs
GVWR/GCWR 29,410 lbs/33,000 lbs
ROCCC 3,540 lbs
GAWR Gross Axle Weight Rating
GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
GCWR Gross Combination Weight Rating
ROCCC Realistic Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (full water, no passengers)