RV Review: 2021 Coachmen Chaparral X 355FBX Fifth Wheel

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By Tony Barthel
There are some who see an RV floor plan for what it is, and some who see an RV floor plan and think of things besides what the company had in mind. I guess I can be both but I’m often much more looking at a floor plan and wondering what else I can do with it. 

Before I go further, know that I don’t have kids. So when I see a bunk model I’m not wondering where all my crew can rest their heads at the end of a day of adventure. But bunk house RVs do intrigue me as someone looking for more storage or an office. 

And that’s where I got really excited about the new-for-2021 Coachmen Chaparral  X 355FBX floor plan. 

Coachmen Chaparral X 355FBX

The Coachmen Chaparral X 355FBX is one of the more unusual fifth wheel floor plans I’ve seen. It definitely breaks the mold when it comes to bunk models. If you’ve done any looking around you’ve seen a fifth wheel bunk house. So you probably assume that the bunks are out back and the main sleeping room is up front. That’s not what we’re looking at here. 

The nose knows

Since the front of this is so different, we should start there. Up front on the upper deck is a large room that features bunk beds on the road side and another upper berth across the nose. That upper berth can swing up against the wall through the courtesy of a strut. There’s a sort of couch cushion below that which can be folded into a bed or a couch. Okay, or maybe even a fort. 

I can imagine this being a great office or craft room, as well. With so many people taking to the road full time, I can see this being an outstanding floor plan for those folks who want more than just living quarters in an RV. 

What a super spot for a hobby room, or perhaps the headquarters for a business that’s the passion of people who live on the road. Of course, you could also sleep four people up here. The beds are large enough for at least two adults, if need be, or four children. 

There’s also a closet upstairs which is plumbed for a stackable washer and dryer.

The adjacent upstairs bathroom is about what you’d expect in a typical fifth wheel bathroom. It’s about the size of a good travel trailer bathroom. There is a low-performance vent fan here. But those are easy enough to change out for something that’ll move a decent amount of air. 

Bringing light to the party

When I first saw this floor plan I wasn’t overly excited about the downstairs area. But then I saw another example of the floor plan which totally changed my mind. There are a good number of windows in this floor plan, including two long windows on the camp side. The amount of light in the trailer is pretty impressive. The first time I saw this was in a video where none of the interior lights were on and the blinds were closed. 

This brings me to another off-topic comment. If you’re doing RV walk-through videos – as are so common nowadays – you might invest in one of those portable power stations so the lights in the RV can be illuminated. The perceptive difference this makes is like night and day. And, yep, that’s a weak attempt at a pun, as well. 

The main floor of the Coachmen Chaparral X has a tri-fold sofa on the front wall. Then there’s a U-shaped dinette in the slide sharing space with the refrigerator. Coachmen offers three choices of refrigerator in this model: a gas-electric typical RV refrigerator, a residential refrigerator and a 12-volt compressor-based refrigerator. I have to hand it to Coachmen. This is the best choice I’ve seen in RV refrigeration. It allows you to choose a type of unit that best matches your style of travel. 

Across from the slide is the galley. This has a large two-bowl sink in an “L”-shaped counter. Then there’s more counter space along the camp side wall, and then a three-burner stove with a 22-inch oven. 

Also on the camp side is sort of a credenza with a flip-up top for “whatever.” There’s a fireplace down below, and a 50-inch TV on a swivel arm up above. 

The master suite in the Coachmen Chaparral X

Going deeper into this coach, you’ll find the master bedroom. As you would expect in the main sleeping quarters, you get a choice of king- or queen-sized beds. The slide that the head of the bed occupies is on the camp side. There is a row of cabinets and drawers on the road side – a set of storage spots that even includes a well for shoes. 

I wrote about the Keystone Outback 328RL as being a decent choice for those who don’t want the upper deck of a fifth wheel. But if one traveler has challenges or just prefers not having to go up stairs, this Coachmen model provides that since the main bedroom is on the main deck. 

In fact, this makes tremendous sense even for the intended purpose. The kids can run up and down the stairs to their bedroom or activity room while the parents can stay right on the main floor. Smart. 

Since this is a master bedroom, there’s also a master bathroom at the very back of this rig. It’s every bit as nice as you would want in a fifth wheel. It has a very large shower that includes a seat, and it has two sinks. 

Coachmen pluses

It’s always good to point out some of the things that differentiate one brand of RV from the next. Coachmen has a number of things to their credit in their fifth wheels. Coachmen has tested their trailers to remain comfortable inside when the outside world is anywhere between 0° to 110° F in an actual temperature chamber. 

Gate valves are held in a heated and enclosed area. The company claims R11 sidewalls, an R30 floor and R38 roof insulation. 

Interestingly, Coachmen builds this fifth wheel with an Azdel substrate instead of the typical Luan used in a lot of fifth wheels. Funny how some brands have tested this in larger coaches like this and report an increase in structural rigidity, while others have reported a decrease. But whatever the case, the Azdel substrate is not affected by water intrusion so it absolutely has that advantage. 

In summary

If I were a fifth-wheel customer I would put this high on my list. As mentioned, I would re-purpose that upper deck as an office or hobby room. Another plus, for those who care about this sort of thing, is that the logical bathroom that someone would use if they were in the main living area is this one upstairs. That leaves the master bathroom as the domain only of the king and queen of the house. Nice. 

I think Coachmen is going to find a lot of folks interested in this floor plan for a lot of reasons, including the obvious one if they have little ones who are along for the journey. I love seeing a floor plan that I haven’t seen before. But you can bet that if this unit sells as well as I anticipate it will, you’ll see plenty of clones, as this is a great floor plan.

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

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Roger Spalding
17 days ago

Why the puny freshwater capacity? To accommodate “10” campers, it seems Coachmen designed larger black and gray tanks. It must view this rig as purely a “park queen;” always hooked up to city water. Tony sees the front bunk room as a potential office or craft room. No boondocking for you unless you’re willing to haul along four or five 5 gallon freshwater jugs. Coachmen gets credit for creativity. Too bad it didn’t finish the job, and design a bigger freshwater tank to go with the other two. Coachmen will have to price its 355 very aggressively if it wants to compete with similar Keystone, Jayco or Grand Design models which don’t ask its customers to tolerate such inconveniences.

David
17 days ago

Being as RVs are rolling earthquakes, I would think it would behoove the author of a review to at least mention the frame and rolling infrastructure instead of the shiny object of the floor plan. Dig a bit deeper instead of sounding like Camping World.

Tommy Molnar
18 days ago

I love the lighter interiors some of these mfg’s are offering today. Dark interiors have overstayed their welcome. I’m thinking of having our dark interior professionally repainted. I also like the 5th wheels that don’t have the bedroom in the nose. For us more mature folks (ahem . . .), stairs and dark don’t mix well.