The single most popular model in the most popular brand of fifth wheels is the Keystone Cougar 24RDS. This smaller, lightweight and well-designed fifth wheel has been a consistently popular model for some time. I caught wind of the updates to the 2022 model – which make the popular unit even better.
Keystone RV continues to improve on its product line but also is smart in how they relay those improvements to the customer base.
For a while now they have used a consistent wiring system. That means when there’s a red wire on this fifth wheel, it does the same thing as the red wire on the next. While anyone who has worked on cars will wonder why this is special, anyone who works on so many RV brands will recognize how significant and different this kind of attention to detail is.
By focusing on this type of issue they also reduce the number of times a technician has to diagnose an electrical issue.
Keystone’s Innovation Lab
Keystone also has its Innovation Lab, which really addresses a lot of the issues that are common with RVs. For example, since most RVs use the same air conditioning systems from the same suppliers, Keystone has developed ducting and ventilation systems that improve the efficiency of these systems by up to 20 percent.
Their so-called Blade Pure™ air handling system means you may be able to get by with just a single air conditioner in a fifth wheel, for example, depending on where you camp.
But the single biggest change to this model since last we looked at it is Keystone’s SolarFlex™ system.
Offered in a variety of configurations and capacities, Keystone has included a solar charging system in all of their RVs. Period.
At the most basic, this means a 200-watt solar panel plus wiring for a second panel if you want that. The wiring is also able to accommodate a power inverter. This enables you to run specific 120vac outlets from battery power alone through an inverter.
But this model is available with several more advanced systems including the SolarFlex 400i, which includes the two 200-watt solar panels plus an inverter. But then you can go with the SolarFlex 600i, which gives you three 200-watt solar panels plus a 3,000-watt smart inverter.
A smart inverter means that you can plug this trailer into the full 50-amp power it’s wired for and get the full benefits of all that power. But it’s also smart enough to only draw 15 amps if you’re parked in a friend’s driveway, for example. It can also mix in the power from those three roof-mounted panels to achieve enough power to run the air conditioner. The AC with this package comes with a soft start type feature. That’s slick.
I don’t know why I don’t see this kind of thing more widespread in the RV space, but I don’t. So that explains why I keep sharing Keystone RV products with you all.
Warranty on the Keystone Cougar fifth wheels
One of the other things I like about these Cougar fifth wheels is the warranty. It is a full year on the whole coach plus three years on the structure. Cougar fifth wheels, including these smaller ones, are also covered even for full-time use.
Other stuff with the Keystone Cougar
There are other reasons this fifth wheel continues to sell well. Those include the auto level and the certification of this model for use in temperatures from 0-110°F. Part of that is the fact that the fully enclosed underbelly is heated by the rig’s heating system. There are 12-volt tank heaters, to boot.
This is also a popular choice because it’s short enough that the receiver hitch on the back has passed the lawyer’s scrutiny to be stated for use as a towing hitch rather than just a gear/cargo hitch. So, in states where it’s legal, you might be able to tow a motorcycle or boat trailer behind this fifth wheel.
I also like that this model is prepped for both rear-view cameras as well as side-view cameras.
Furthermore, there’s a 22” oven in this trailer. Also, I like the rather large free-standing U-shaped dinette in the rear.
On the flip side
There are a few things about this floor plan I don’t like. Principal among those is Keystone’s advertising this as a “half-ton” series. Even though this is a smaller giant box, it’s still a giant box. You want every advantage on your side with any towing situation. So, let’s agree that while some half-ton trucks may be capable of hauling this, it’s really best done with something with greater reserves.
As I’ve written before, I’m not a fan of “barely able to.” I’d much prefer “easily capable of.” That’s going to be a more capable truck. But there are dealers who will see “half-ton” and sell this to someone without knowing about cargo carrying capacity and payload. I think that’s not fair to the customer.
I can see dealers saying, “They wouldn’t call it half-ton if it weren’t safe” – as the customers roll out the door with a half-ton truck that’s almost at capacity before they add all their stuff to the rig.
Not a fan of floor registers
On another note, of course, there are floor registers for the heater – not my favorite.
And perhaps the biggest thing I still see as a challenge from this otherwise nifty floor plan is that the slide room completely blocks access to the upstairs deck when it’s in. So no mid-trip potty stops.
Since we last looked at this rig, the changes have been significant enough that it is definitely worth a new peep. I have to say I can fully understand the popularity of this model. And then Keystone added even more advantages. I’m sure they’ll be burning the midnight oil making enough to keep campers happy.
The advantages Keystone is giving to their products by answering the questions RVers have shows that they are listening. That’s just good business. And happy camping.
Price increase in the past year on the Keystone Cougar
One more thing. We looked at this same rig a few months ago and while Keystone has definitely made improvements in features and content, the $10,000 price difference just shows how things have gone in the RV space. Essentially, this year’s model is some 25% more than just 12 months ago.
My thanks to Josh Winters from Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, for use of his photos. You can view his video on the Keystone Cougar 24RDS here.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
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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