Sunday, July 25, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021

RV Review: 2021 Keystone Cougar 24RDS Fifth Wheel

By Tony Barthel
Lately, I’ve been getting quite a few requests asking for smaller, lighter fifth wheel reviews. There are two that really stuck out to me: today’s Keystone Cougar 24RDS and the Grand Design Reflection 150 Series 295RL, which you’ll read about tomorrow. 

Small, light, half-ton?

The inference in both of these models is that they’re half-ton towable. Grand Design even uses the term “150 Series” in the branding, which may appeal to the almost one million folks who buy Ford F-150 pickup trucks annually. Actually, if you look at Ford’s Towing Guide document these are well within the capability of the most well-equipped F-150s with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 or 5.0L V8. These have a cargo-carrying capacity of more than 3,000 pounds and towing capacity of at least 13,000 pounds. 

As with any towing situation, you’re going to want to pay attention to how much you’re towing as well as either pin weight or tongue weight, depending on what you’re towing. My feeling about towing is never to go above 70% of capability. I always recommend taking your complete RV to a scale to have it weighed so you’re safe. You’ll read these same two paragraphs tomorrow. 

Keystone Cougar

I would argue that the Keystone Cougar 24RDS and the Grand Design Reflection 295RL are very comparable in their specifications and really even with similar layouts. So why would you want to go with the Keystone Cougar or the Grand Design Reflection? 

Keystone’s Cougar brand has a great warranty: three years for the structure, one year for the overall RV. 

One of the things Keystone has been doing is using a plastic reinforced joiner in their air conditioning ducting so the ducting doesn’t collapse over time. They’re also using a man-made “HyperDeck” flooring product which, on paper, seems like a great product. We’ll see over time, right? 

Keystone has dumped carpeting in the slide rooms and instead uses a woven marine-grade flooring product. This is easier to clean but provides the same sealing properties as carpet. 

I do like that there are three outlets in this model specifically wired to run off an inverter if you choose that option, or if you put one in down the road. This trailer is also fully prepped for solar. This can be either factory installed or put in by you. 

Keystone also has specifically tested the Cougar fifth wheels, including this one, from 0° F-110° F in what they call their Climate Guard protection. In addition, the AC vent construction also includes in-floor heating ducting that extends to the basement, 12-volt heating pads, attic vents to let hot air escape from the attic structure, and insulation improvements. 

Just to be aware – the standard AC on this is a single 15,000BTU air conditioner, which may be sufficient in many places. There is a vent in the bedroom into which you can install a second AC unit if you choose. Of course, this can be installed at the factory, as well. You could also just wait and see how well a single AC unit does in this with the insulation in the unit. 

The grand tour of the Keystone Cougar 24RDS

I don’t usually start on the outside but there are a few things well worth noting here. The first is how incredibly huge the awning is on this rig. Keystone has the awning almost the full length of the trailer. The trailer is under 28 feet 6 inches in total length. 

Considering that some folks like to tandem tow with a fifth wheel, this might be a good choice for those. There is a trailer hitch on the back that’s capable of handling 3,000 pounds. It even features a four-pin connector. 

You step inside the trailer at the back of this floor plan. The first thing you’ll notice is a big U-shaped dinette with lots of windows. That dinette makes into a fairly large bed, but also can provide nice seating. 

To the right is a large electric fireplace with a TV on top on a swivel mount. It’s odd, to me, that the counter is at an angle here. I think you’d get more counter space if it were just straight across. However, the fireplace and TV wouldn’t be as easily viewed from that big dinette. 

Further down the counter is a three-burner stove with a 22-inch oven. One of the cool things about this Furrion model stove is that the igniter will also light the oven, thereby saving you from doing the oven contortion. Then, ‘round the bend is a two-well sink. The counters are a pressed membrane-style counter. This means there are no edges where water can get in. Also, with the kitchen being on the camp side, Cougar still put in a nice window. That way you can keep an eye on your buddies outside while you’re inside getting the food ready. 

The steps to the upper deck are on the road side and would be blocked by the slide room when it’s in. That means no going upstairs for a potty break during a quick roadside stop. Otherwise, the whole lower deck is accessible with the slide in, including the refrigerator and kitchen. 

On the subject of the refrigerator, you have a choice of either a 12-volt DC compressor-based fridge with about 10 cubic feet of storage, or a traditional gas-electric RV refrigerator with about 8 cubic feet of storage. Next to the fridge is a small pantry and, for 2021, Keystone has gone to all hidden hinges.

There’s a tri-fold couch sharing the slide with the fridge. However, you could upgrade to theater seating if you so desired. There’s a switch you can reach from the seats for the lights in the slide which features dimming functionality. Or you can control all the lights and other functions with your phone using the InCommand system. 

The second floor of the Keystone Cougar 24RDS

Going up to the second floor, the stairwell is on the road side of this trailer. When you get to the bathroom, there’s a good amount of space inside. There is a small closet/storage area too. The molded shower enclosure has a seat and it’s a pretty good size considering the overall size of this rig. 

In the bedroom, there is a wardrobe slide on the road side but I doubt that you’re getting into here without extending that slide room as it would block the door. 

Next to each side of the bed is a closet and nightstand with a cabinet below. The plugs next to the bed are wired such that, if you did choose to install an inverter, you could run something like a CPAP machine from the batteries. 

One thing I really do not like about this bedroom is that there’s a step about 1/3 of the way down the bed. This would seem like a huge trip hazard. Even if you don’t like carpeting, you will find it in abundance in the bedroom. I’m not sure why they didn’t go with vinyl flooring in here – but they didn’t. 

In summary

Keystone’s Cougar brand has done a good job with this fifth wheel that is small but doesn’t feel it. Things like larger windows and a smart layout along with that huge U-shaped dinette in the back are all big pluses. 

I am also a fan of their build methodology and components, including the HyperDeck flooring and the support structure in the AC vents. This fifth wheel shows a lot of common sense in the design. The exception to this is that you can’t get upstairs at all with the slide room in, which would be solved by putting the stairwell on the camp side of this coach. 

You could reasonably tow this with a properly equipped half-ton truck, and it’s well within the capability of some of these trucks. But you’ll absolutely want to be sure before you sign. Considering the length of this unit and its weight, this is a solid alternative to a travel trailer, even if you want to stay smaller. 

At under 29 feet in total length, with about three of those feet being over the cargo bed of the truck, the Keystone Cougar 24RDS could be a logical choice even if you want to stay smaller without giving up the advantages of a fifth wheel such as cargo space and tank capacity. That would be especially true if you outfitted this with the solar and inverter upgrades. It would make a good rig for boondocking.

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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Bradley Anderson
4 months ago

Despite reading all the reviewer’s negative responses, we look forward to picking up this unit next month…or when it quits freezing. Purchased it in December and it’s sitting at the dealer’s lot for the winter. We looked at other brands but this one picked our interest the most for what we are looking for. As far as roadside usage of the bathroom goes, it’s no big deal to pull off the road and onto a side road if necessary in order to use the slide. It wasn’t a deal breaker for us. We typically don’t want to travel 400 miles in a single day anyway. Enjoying the journey can be just as intuitive as the destination. As far as build problems, I concluded that every brand has their problems. Not that big of a deal to fix the some things that I am able to (disability). Private business when it’s out of warranty. Worked enough on the different trailers we had over the years.

Jen
4 months ago

There’s no way I could ever recommend this brand. Friends of ours purchased a 2020 and have had to bring it in for repairs 9 times! It spent over a month being repaired for a rotten part of the floor by the door last summer and guess what? It’s soft there again. Windows leaking, Shower leaking into the pass through. Awning broke. It has been their worst experience ever. The dealership even admitted quality has gone down as they try to up production. They are building them too fast and the purchaser is paying the price. Last time they brought it in to be fixed (last week) there were 4 other Keystone Cougars in the repair area. Stay far away from this brand.

Bob M
4 months ago

I looked at this Cougar 5th wheel last spring. I really liked it. What turned me off was when you sat in the dinette the cushions were not comfortable. I would have liked an additional outlet on the curbside kitchen countertop. I remember looking at the construction of the floor on a Cougar and it showed them using OSB. Don’t remember seeing anything about using HyperDeck flooring. Had a Keystone Outback and remember the floor being slightly wavy and wasn’t happy with the quality. Never crossed my mind about access to the bedroom / bathroom when the slide is in. The other thing I see and I notice in my Jayflight is heating ducts get covered if the slide is in. which would seem the same with this Cougar. Not sure if it would cause issue running the furnace while driving in the cold winter. The last issue was the only ones that had this Keystone Cougar 24RDS in stock was Camping World.

Roger Spalding
4 months ago

The Keystone 24 rds was one of the first small 5th wheels that tweaked my interest in RVs. It seems some of our good friends are getting a little spoiled by all the advances in RV conveniences. The slide blocking the loo while intransit doesn’t pose all that much of a problem. With the obvious exception of a motorhome, anyone pulling a TT or a 5th wheel is going to have to stop to get into the rig anyway. Is it such a large imposition to use the facilities at a rest area instead of your own? Plus, you won’t add to your black water tank. My wife and I tent camped for years while we were saving for an RV. We appropriately shared the facilities provided by the great outdoors with other campers for a long time. Perhaps our fellow RVers are a little too squeamish to use public rest rooms or other facilities anymore.

Sink Jaxon
4 months ago
Reply to  Roger Spalding

To answer your question…Yes. It is a large imposition to use the facilities at a rest area. That’s the reason I own a TT, so I don’t have to share other people’s germs and viruses.😱

Sink Jaxon
4 months ago

Every time the author reviews a Keystone product I will share my experience. I bought a 2016 Cougar 5er.. which I sold a year and a half later because it was a piece of JUNK. The slide broke in the out position, the kitchen faucet leaked at the base and swelled up the counter top, the roof membrane bubbled up and tore as we were driving, had to be replaced. Broken blinds, stripped window cranks shelves falling, toilet clogged constantly, the list goes on and on. Keystone did NOTHING for us. DO NOT BUY KEYSTONE PRODUCTS.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sink Jaxon
Jeanne McKenzie
4 months ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

I give a hearty second to the above comment. We have a 2017 Cougar 5er and it spent a third of the first year in the shop having repairs made because of poor workmanship. I cannot say enough complaints about Keystone; would never buy another one or recommend a purchase.

Mary
4 months ago

Wow, I currently have a Jayco, 29ft and I am truly enjoying it.
As I looked at the couger’s 360 floor plans I could see miss a lined wall paper and trim. This is something I would run from. If they are showing this workmanship in an on line sales brochure…I can only imagine the items I can’t see behind the cabinets and walls. Look forward to seeing tomarrow 5th wheel.

Galeyn
4 months ago

What really caught my eye about this Cougar was the beautiful kitchen featured in the pictures. However, after looking closer at the floor plan, the kitchen available in this model is no where as inviting and spacious. The kitchen shown in this review is available in the Cougar 30RLS.

It would be great if the pictures actually matched the rig being reviewed. Just my opinion, of course.  😉 

Tom in PGH
4 months ago

This is one of those stupid floor plans that you can only use if the rig is parked and the slides are out. You cannot reach the bedroom or bath if the unit is closed (on the road, stopped for lunch or a quick break). Please, for any unit that you are seriously looking to purchase, spend some time in it with the slides both open and closed. Your eyes may be opened to something that should be obvious, but might be overlooked because of all of the “beauty” and “glitz”.

Leonard Rempel
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom in PGH

100% agree with Tom,
The floor plan looked great UNTIL I got to the part where there was no washroom access on the road. This is one of the must have’s that we love about our Montana 3120rl. I am interested in a shorter trailer, but can’t give up the washroom access!
Great job on the reviews.

Mark
2 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

Is there a reason the slide out cannot be moved outward so the restroom is accessible during road trips?

Tommy Molnar
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom in PGH

What Tom says, plus, sit on the loo to be sure it can be easily used for, well, you know.

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