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 brief overview of the product, not a comprehensive critique which would require a personal inspection and/or test drive.
By Tony Barthel
Last week I wrote about the Springdale 242 travel trailer as well as the Northwood Arctic Fox 25k travel trailer. I really like those interpretations of a rear kitchen floor plan, but I may be even more enamored with the way Keystone has done this in their Cougar 24SABWE travel trailer.
There are a few things that really make the Cougar different than those models, in my opinion. The biggest difference is that the Cougar features an RV king bed at 70” X 80”. Cougar also offers the option of a free-standing table and chairs instead of a dinette and, lastly, you can either have theater seating or a tri-fold couch in the slide room.
We each have our own preferences, but the idea of a free-standing table appeals to me as do the theater seats.
There is a 35BTU ducted furnace as part of keeping you toasty, and Cougar trailers are wired for 50-amp service as you can add a second air conditioner. There are two 30-pound propane tanks, as well, so you can stay out longer without having to refill these – though you can also swap them for 20-pound tanks easily enough if you prefer using those tank swap services.
Having the trailer wired for 50 amp doesn’t preclude your using 30-amp sites, but it does open up more options for you, especially if you do camp in summer in places where the heat can bubble the mercury.
There is a “Climate Guard” protection package that uses Astrofoil in the slide room floors and underbelly, a layer of foil insulation under the front cap, 12-volt heating pads for all the tanks, heated and enclosed dump valves, and even a heated and enclosed water convenience center. This also includes dual attic vents – so Cougar’s claim of being a four-season coach is backed up by these factors.
Cougar puts this trailer in its half-ton line, but I’m not so sure I’d want to tow this one with a half-ton truck. It’s a very capable trailer with 60 gallons of freshwater storage aboard, but at eight pounds to the gallon that’s 500 pounds of freshwater. You can apply the same math to the gray water tank at 76 gallons, along with 38 gallons of black water.
Yes, I have pulled a trailer with all three tanks full when doing some boondocking where it’s easier to get the freshwater first and then head to the dump station.
Obviously, you should know the capabilities of any tow vehicle and don’t forget to accommodate that forest of firewood in the bed and your mother-in-law who will never admit to what she really weighs so you’re going to have to guess. Shoot high, my friends.
Having two entry doors means the bedroom and living area each can be accessed, and the whole trailer is fairly usable even with the slide room in for travel. You can reach the bedroom and bathroom through the front door and the refrigerator and kitchen through the back door.
Overall I really like this floor plan. The bathroom is accessible from the living area and the bedroom. The living space is very usable with lots of kitchen cabinets and man-made countertops that should hold up well over time. There are lots of cabinets, and a cook will likely enjoy working in this kitchen space.
One of the new features in 2021 Keystone Cougar “half-ton” models is a flooring system called HyperDeck. This is a totally man-made laminate that is impervious to water damage, but, according to Keystone, has better screw retention for longer life and also is about 25% lighter. As someone who has suffered from a rotted floor in an RV, I welcome this with open arms!
When I worked at the dealership, Keystone in general was very good with their warranties – both with how they supported customers and also how quickly parts and service requests were turned around. We really liked dealing with them from this standpoint, and Cougar trailers check all the right boxes in their build methodology. Things like fully laminated sidewalls with aluminum framing including the slide rooms and back wall, for example.
My biggest gripe is about that InCommand system instead of traditional buttons – I have seen it done where there is both. I also would look very closely at the real numbers before being certain this can be towed by your half-ton. Pickups vary widely in their capabilities and it’s important to know what you’ve got before you jump into a purchase. Also, there are heater vents in the floor, which is common, but I prefer they be mounted on the cabinet walls.
But this would seem like a trailer that could be a good choice for couples, including those who may find that work today lets them travel more and work from the road. And they could be comfortable working or vacationing inside no matter what the weather does outside.
I have had a few different travel trailers and my latest purchase was a 2019 Cougar Half Ton 29BHS and so far it has been the best one out of all of them. I am completely satisfied with all the options, the quality of everything and just love it. I don’t have any complaints about the in-command system and think it was a great idea. My tow vehicle is a 2020 Dodge Ram 1500 5.7L with a 3.92 axle and I have no issues towing. I have even had the fresh water tank full and didn’t even notice much of a difference. I agree if you are going with a light duty truck you definitely have to do your homework and make sure you get the right light duty truck to handle the job without pushing it to its limits.
Our first trailer was a Cougar 1/2 ton series. Since I had a 1/2 ton Silverado I thought “Perfect”! Not so much. If you have a 1/2 ton with a minimum 6 Liter engine you will probably be okay. Unfortunately I had a 5.3 L and it wasn’t enough. Also, after 1 year the floors in the trailer were sagging due to the wide spread of the floor joists. Keystone refused to do anything about it since it was past the 1 year warranty. I’ll never buy another Keystone product again.
Jim I must agree. In 2010, I bought a 2011 Keystone Bullet Premier brand new. Only had ONE issue with it. It was a great TT. We upgraded to a Cougar 5’er six years later, and the problems with it were endless. I mean MAJOR issues from roof to floor to slide. I sold it after a year. I posted the experiences with this lemon everywhere I could find online, to warn people of the sad state Keystone had degraded to in six years. I also, will NEVER BUY A KEYSTONE product again. If I may add, this opinion is not to disparage Mr. Barthel’s review.
That’s unfortunate about the issues. The dealership I worked for carries Cougar and they’ve had really good feedback from the customers thus far but it’s always good to read additional feedback.
As for towing, not all “half ton” trucks are the same by any means. The only real way to know what your truck can safely tow is to evaluate the actual numbers for your specific truck along with your own circumstances. Furthermore how much any truck can tow is diminished by what’s in the truck – people, dogs, generators, fuel, firewood, bicycles or whatever are all weight that has to be subtracted from the total that can be carried.
A Ford F-150 with Max tow package is rated to tow 13200 lbs. This trailer falls well with-in that range.
This isn’t “real world” accurate. I have an f150 5.0 and after all is said and done (taking into account options etc) it will tow up to 9200 lbs. I’m towing a 6500lb all up rig. On the flat AOK. Up hill not so much. It gets me there but I can’t say much more than that. Love my truck though.
Our 2020 F150 with the Max tow package tows a 7500lb TT and going up hill I maintain 55 mph with pedal to spare.