By Tony Barthel
I have my usual sources to keep my finger on the pulse of the RV world and one of those is my friend Josh, from Haylett RV. Once again he really came through with the new Cougar 355FBS Fifth Wheel. It is literally so hot off the press, so to speak, that there aren’t even details on some of the specifications.
I also get press releases from the manufacturers and, almost invariably, when they use the word “innovative” I take that with a grain of salt. Just because this is the first time you’ve stolen someone else’s floor plan doesn’t mean you get a cookie.
But I would use that word “innovative” with the floor plan of the Cougar 355FBS, and I do think it deserves a look. This is especially true if you’re one of the growing number of people who live in their RVs full-time and still have to make a living.
Let’s cut to the chase. The cornerstone of this unit is a front storage/closet/laundry space that can serve multiple uses.
Located in the nose cap, this space has room for a washer and dryer, with room for a shelf or counter above them. There’s a space for a washer on the camp side and a dryer on the road side. Alongside each of these are a bunch of drawers. On both walls as well as along the entire front of the rig are hanging bars for clothes.
But rather than seeing this space for what it says in the brochure, there are a number of things that would work here. The first thing you could do is set up an office for two with those shelves over the washer-dryer being, instead, used as desks. I also know professional photographers who still actually use darkrooms. This space, which has no windows, does have plumbing so you could use it for that purpose as well.
The one strange thing about the space in the Cougar 355FBS is that it’s almost hidden. You have to go through the bedroom, then the front bathroom and then a sliding door to get to it. But that just means it’s a great place for hobbies or work or whatever you want to use it for.
Keystone listened to customers when developing the Cougar 355FBS
According to the folks at Cougar, much of this rig was developed after listening to customers. One space customer requests and complaints have been noted is in the bathroom. It has only one sink but there are a bunch of rather wide drawers. Usually, in this space, most fifth wheels would put two sinks. I don’t think I’ve ever been shaving while my wife is brushing her teeth or whatever. So I can see that two sinks really don’t add anything, but additional drawer space sure does.
The bedroom features a queen bed in a slide as standard, but you can also get a king-sized bed as well. There is a downstairs bathroom. The reason I point that out here is that there is a cubby over that bathroom that you can access from the upper bedroom. Interesting.
This rig comes standard with a single 15,000BTU air conditioner. But I can see the merits of a second unit, especially if you camp where there’s summer – which I’d guess is most of us.
About that downstairs bathroom
The downstairs bathroom in the Cougar 355FBS is an interesting design where the door to the bathroom is flush with the pantry door. Then you go through a short hallway to get to the surprisingly spacious bathroom.
In that bathroom, you’ll find the first of two high-performance vent fans. This is a smaller one and suits the space well. There is actually a fairly spacious countertop surrounding the sink in this bathroom. So if you have guests spending the night, they could take advantage of the space for toothbrushes or that sort of thing.
No big surprises in the main floor space of the Cougar 355FBS
There won’t be any big surprises with the rest of the main floor space in this rig. It has a three-burner RV range and refrigerator in the road-side slide. The range is a 22-inch model. You can get a four-door gas-electric fridge or a residential model if you so choose.
There is a large flat-screen TV across from the theater seats which swivels out. This means that those occupying the couch in the back can see it instead. The unique thing here is the amount of space behind the TV to store things.
One of the big pluses I saw here was that the dining room table was mounted completely to the wall with no pole underneath. How the heck are you going to whack your knees now and say all those bad words that leave your in-laws with “that look” on their faces? Of course, you could opt for a booth as well.
There is a lot to like about this floor plan, especially if you go outside the brochure with that front space. I like the downstairs bathroom as well and how it’s designed.
I haven’t been shy about some of the things that I appreciate about Keystone products in general. This includes their wiring, which is common among all models in the line, and their HyperDeck flooring. They also have high-quality joiners in the ceiling air conditioning ducts, and other things that should make a difference long-term.
Of course, I’m still not a fan of vents cut into the floor of an RV. But I’ve also been told that Keystone directs a heat duct at each of the holding tanks and has a heating pad on them. So the company’s claims about this rig being 0° friendly seem legit. I’m not 0° friendly myself, so I will never be reporting live from the scene when the thermometer has zero to say.
I’m curious what RV Travel’s readers think of this front space and if you think it’s an innovative use of the area – or if you’d do something different.
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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