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RV review: Keystone Cougar 368MBI for 2023

Today’s RV review is of the 2023 Keystone Cougar 368MBI, a large fifth wheel with a room in the middle. 2023 marks the company’s 25th anniversary so there are some changes and updates to the line to reflect a quarter of a century of building this name. 

Mid room

The mid-bunk designation on this could be both accurate and misleading, depending on how you look at it. I say misleading only because I know of more than one customer who has chosen this floor plan because of the flexibility of having a completely separate space to go to. 

This completely closed-off space turned out to be the perfect den for some customers. It’s really set up like that. There’s a couch and all the hook-ups for a TV. Further, there are closets and cabinets, so you could have your own stuff. 

The brochure might say this is the perfect bedroom for someone, but it could also be the perfect office for someone. Or a den. Maybe a she shed. Or a man cave. Whatever. The fact that this is, technically, designed for families doesn’t mean it’s just for families. 

But this could also be good for having friends come camping with you. 

There is also a loft over this space so that could be a sleeping area for a smaller camper or storage for crafts or hobbies or whatever other stuff you bring. 

2023 updates

There have been a number of upgrades incorporated into the Cougar line in celebration of their anniversary. The first, and most significant, is the revised nose of this fifth wheel. The larger and slightly more square profile of this model means that there’s more closet space up front. In addition, there’s room for a stacking washer-dryer. Previously your option was a combo unit only. 

The exterior styling has also gotten a notable upgrade. I think the appearance is more contemporary, which is also what they were going for. 

Based on feedback from the customers, Keystone has also included the shade on the door window. It’s mounted so it raises from the bottom rather than lowers from the top. Whoever the first person was to think this was a good idea was right. Kudos to you, anonymous window shade installer. 

Refrigeration choices are now either a 16-cubic-foot Furrion 12-volt DC fridge or a propane-electric gas-absorption fridge. I would be someone who hopes to never see a residential fridge in a mobile application ever again only because of my experience dealing with residential fridges in a warranty capacity. 

Another big safety upgrade is that Goodyear Endurance radials are now standard equipment in these. Goodbye Maypop tires and hello Goodyear. 

More to love in the Keystone Cougar 368MBI

The slide box in the upper deck is now both taller and deeper. You have the choice of either a king- or queen-sized bed. Keystone has shelves above the bed so even king customers aren’t excluded from their usefulness. 

Further, each side of the bed has a 120-volt AC outlet and USB outlets. Additionally, there are outlets on the ceiling on either side of the bed. They are attached to the inverter so you could easily configure these for charging your phones or whatnot overnight, but also to power CPAP machines. 

Well done, Keystone!

Keystone RV

If you’ve missed it in the past, know that I have a lot of respect for the thinking at Keystone RV. They are the only RV company, that I know of, that specifically has a department designed to create innovation that will make camping life better. 

One of the things their Innovation Lab has come up with is the Blade Pure™ air conditioning ducting. This system uses readily available filtration in the RV air conditioner and then ducting and vents that provide up to 20 percent more airflow. 

As someone who dealt with RV warranties in the past, I really appreciated Keystone’s wiring where the same color wire was used to connect the same components in all Keystone RVs. Surprisingly, this is absolutely uncommon in the RV industry and definitely sets Keystone products apart. 

There are other innovations, as well, but my favorite is Keystone’s SolarFlex™. 

SolarFlex

SolarFlex™ is the name Keystone has given the solar package on all its offerings. It translates into at least 200 watts of solar on every Keystone RV, from the least expensive to the most. In addition to providing this solar, there is also wiring in place so you could install inverters or other components into the system to gain additional functionality.

Further, there are options and upgrades directly from Keystone to expand on these systems. Those include dealer-installed upgrades that are covered by Keystone’s warranty. It’s a really well-done implementation.

Missed opportunity?

The one thing I’d like to see, and this would not be something I had seen others do, is a different idea in that spare bedroom area.

Right now there’s a cabinet below the space for the TV. But what if they just took out the cabinets altogether, or used portable storage instead? This would mean that the shelf below the TV could become a desk instead of just a table top.

This would allow you additional space for eating or working. With the spot above for a TV, this could be a great work station with a high-resolution monitor that could also work for just watching whatever.

Or, even crazier, what if that table top were on a mount-type system that allowed you to easily change the height? Now you could have a sit-stand desk. I have seen this before in the Ember 191MSL. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

This would also absolutely set this model apart from all the models like this that are out there. You’re welcome, Keystone!

Boondocking and travel access in the Keystone Cougar 368MBI

While you can access the upper bedroom and the bathroom with the slide rooms in, that’s about it. You can totally forget about the lower deck altogether.

Fifth wheels, to me, are one of the best configurations for boondocking only because they have the ability to have such gigantic holding tanks. That’s true here, with 75 gallons of fresh water and 76 of gray. Combine that with an upgraded SolarFlex system and you may be able to stay off the grid for a while.

Another change for 2023 is the inclusion of a tankless water heater. That means no waiting for water to heat up—turn on the tap and have hot water, period. Obviously, there’s some lead time as the hot water chases the cold through the plumbing. But I do like seeing the trend toward tankless water heaters, and I am sure this is led by Furrion and their new offering.

In conclusion

Cougar fifth wheels are popular for their insulation and reputation. Something I don’t like, though, are floor heating ducts. But that’s not the end of the world. I do like that some of the lighting is on dimmers. 

Further, the size of the windows on the camp side makes my heart happy. You can open these for air flow, too. 

Lastly, while there’s a nice high-performance vent fan in the main living area that even incorporates a rain sensor, the one in the bathroom is a cheap four-inch fan. What’s up with that? 

Keystone is a popular brand that sells a lot of RVs and I can see why. Their Innovation Lab actually produces ideas that will help make the RV experience better for campers. Also, they’re not afraid to upgrade and refine their products, even the popular ones. 

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVDT1949

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Steve H
13 days ago

My favorite big fifth wheel floorplan–few street-side windows, big rear and camp-side picture windows, no front “windshield”, theater seats, and full-time access to the bathroom and bedroom. Queen sofa bed for our son and his wife and a loft for the grandkids. The second bedroom for hobbies and crafts with a door that can be closed to hide the “mess”. Only negative is lack of travel access to the fridge at a lunchtime rest area without opening both slides. And that ain’t about to happen in a narrow truck parking space at a crowded I-80 rest stop!

Bob p
17 days ago

Looks great, good review.

Tommy Molnar
17 days ago

Looks to be no shelves next to the bed for ‘stuff’ you want near you at night. How they fit a king bed would be interesting to see. I like the USB plugs that almost all RV’s are coming with these days. I’m looking into converting some of my plain old 120v plugs to combo USB plugs in my 10 year old TT. Still not a fan of the ‘solid fold-in’ stairs. I wonder if you can choose to open one or two slides at a time. We saw a Grand Design 5er years ago that only allowed all or none when it came to slide deployment. The owner DID NOT like that aspect of it. And did I see the spare tire tucked inside the front storage area. That could be good or bad I guess.

Leonard Rempel
17 days ago

Yuck. Going boondocking with a full load of fresh water leaves you a little more than 1,000 of cargo capacity. This is a 5’er just begging to be overloaded!
I will keep my Montana with 4,000 lbs cargo capacity.

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