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Old 10-31-2020, 03:11 PM   #1
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5th Wheel Brand Advice

We are shopping for a short 5th wheel 31 feet or under. We have been looking at a Grand Design model that has an almost identical floor plan to a Keystone Cougar half ton. The Cougar is priced about 10K less. From what I understand, Grand Design is a solid brand with good customer service, but I have seen Keystone pop up on some lists of brands to avoid. We are also seeing some Forest River floor plans that suit our needs. I have read that their reputation has suffered in recent years. Should this be a concern? We have also looked at Northwood Mfg. based on reviews, but I am not particularly fond of their styling. We are trying to stay under $50K so not looking for a luxury brand.
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Old 10-31-2020, 04:24 PM   #2
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I too am looking for a similar 5th wheel. The Keystone Cougar is warranted for full time living and are rated for 0 to 110 degrees for what that is worth.

I believe Gran Design is a step better than the Cougar. I like the modern looking cabinets.

But - Winnebago uses the BAL frame with huck bolts so that is a great feature. My current trailer 2013 Keystone Vantage has the BAL frame with huck bolts. There is no rust on that frame. I have had zero problems with the Keystone Vantage 25RBS.

In that class of 5th wheel I also like the Flagstaff/Rockwood trailers/5th wheels. I think they are built solid.

I would buy the Winnebago or Gran Design.

But if your budget is 50k look at the short Keystone Montana 5th wheels.
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Old 10-31-2020, 07:12 PM   #3
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Thank you for your input. The Rockwood Ultra Lite is the Forest River product we have considered. Does that warranty include the half ton Cougars? The regular Cougars are too long. The short Winnebagos I have looked at have no counter space at all in the kitchen and that is on my must have list. I didn't see any Montanas short enough but I will look again.

We are looking at the Cougar Half-ton 24RDS and the Grand Design Reflection 150 260RD.
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Old 10-31-2020, 07:36 PM   #4
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I am seeing a couple Winnebagos under 30 feet: 2 in the Minnie Plus line and one in the regular Voyage series, but I don't see that one for sale anywhere yet. Too bad as it is very similar in layout to the two I named above that I really like.
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KatMo View Post
We are shopping for a short 5th wheel 31 feet or under. We have been looking at a Grand Design model that has an almost identical floor plan to a Keystone Cougar half ton. The Cougar is priced about 10K less. From what I understand, Grand Design is a solid brand with good customer service, but I have seen Keystone pop up on some lists of brands to avoid. We are also seeing some Forest River floor plans that suit our needs. I have read that their reputation has suffered in recent years. Should this be a concern? We have also looked at Northwood Mfg. based on reviews, but I am not particularly fond of their styling. We are trying to stay under $50K so not looking for a luxury brand.
My suggestion is be less concerned about style and more concerned about quality in the build. Style, bling, flashy trim fade quickly but a substandard build on a flimsy frame is immediate and lasts forever. But quality build is going to be heavier meaning probably more truck. No good deed goes unpunished.
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:52 AM   #6
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Here is a guy with a popular youtube channel that's devoted to trucks and RV's. This particular video is a discussion of the differences in the higher end units, but he has many other fifth wheel video's as well. I enjoy his channel.

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Old 11-01-2020, 10:06 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. We have a one ton truck BTW. We put a deposit on the Grand Design Reflection 150 260RD today. Pretty excited and overwhelmed at the same time since we started out wanting used, but with so few on the market, we kept stretching our budget. We are experienced RVers, although we took about a 10 year break. Already have 3 trips in the works before year's end.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:55 AM   #8
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We recently went thru the exhausting process of evaluating all the different brands and floor plans. We came down to Grand Design Reflection and Keystone Cougar as our picks for the top two brands in their class.

What we found is that for anything less than 100 grand, all of these things are basically built the same way and in many cases with the same frames, axles, components, furniture and appliances. The entire industry stinks when it comes to quality control. It is just how it is.

We spent weeks climbing in, on and all over these two brands at our local dealers. I could not find any one major difference that would sway us either way. I found flaws in both brands. I found great stuff in both brands.

In the end we ended up picking up our new Keystone Cougar Half-Ton 32BHS this weekend and so far we are very happy with our decision.

The main driver for us picking the Cougar over a Reflection is the difference in price (about 10 grand less) and the interior design features (color of the cabinets) was much more modern looking.

There just was not enough difference in build quality to support the extra 10 grand in price on the GD Reflection vs the Cougar.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:24 AM   #9
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For the price of a new medium or lower tier unit you can get a lightly used couple year old higher end unit. Chances are that after a couple of years there will be regrets buying the cheap brand, & it will show, never mind the huge depreciation hit you take by buying new in the first place.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:37 AM   #10
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For the price of a new medium or lower tier unit you can get a lightly used couple year old higher end unit. Chances are that after a couple of years there will be regrets buying the cheap brand, & it will show, never mind the huge depreciation hit you take by buying new in the first place.
Well in a normal world that was the case but during this COVID nightmare, the RV market has exploded and demand exceeded supply for quite some time. It is a seller's market for sure right now. Used unit prices are higher than normal.

Eventually the bubble will burst and there will be tons of units available and prices will plummet. I can see a future where it will be next to impossible to sell an RV without basically giving it away.

For me, our new RV purchase was made with the intention of keeping it for a long time which is the only way to justify the depreciation hit that comes along with a new unit.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:05 AM   #11
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I agree about the lack of/high demand for used units inflating their prices right now. There was not a significant enough difference pricewise at this point in time to convince us used was a better option. Not to mention the difficulty finding a fifth wheel under 30 feet in the first place. I also agree that things will look a lot different two years from now, but we weren't willing to wait. We bought this for the long haul. We have been through years of raising our family and buying different models along the way, but now we are retired with grown kids who have their own RVs so we are looking for a couples coach and I don't see our needs changing.

I misspoke earlier when I said the difference in the Cougar half-ton and GD Reflection 150 was 10K. It was only a 3K difference. Our local GD dealer advertises the lowest prices on the west coast and from what I saw on RVTrader.com that seemed to be the case nationwide. The two models we compared each had their own benefits, but for our needs, the GD tipped the scale just enough.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:18 PM   #12
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Obviously I'm going to suggest the NW 27-5. Ours is our fourth one and by far the best we've owned. It lives larger than its size. Another option you might take a look at is the Fox Mountain 235rls. Agree with others that the construction techniques and components are all similar. The frame is the big difference with Northwood and we feel it is better. Yes, the styling and floor plan is dated especially in the 27-5, but it is a design that works for both the weekender and the full timer.

Between the GD and Cougar, I'd go with the GD. Of the two we see and talk with in our travels, GD has fewer major problems and maybe a bit better assembly. Bottom line is they all have problems. A fun exercise is to go to NADA and price models within your chosen brand and see where the value is after 10 years. Then look on line and see if you can actually buy one for that. When I've done that the Northwood line holds value the best because folks are willing to pay more for them. We sold a 3 year old Cardinal for less that 1/2 of what we paid. And it took over 2 months to sell. Our son just purchased a 10 year old Nash for about 1/2 of what the original purchaser paid. I was amazed to see how much price has gone up in 10 years. I've seen 27-5s like ours (same year and options) advertised for only a few thousand less than what we paid. ($44K).

Quality and value are hard to calculate. In the end yu have to do what you are comfortable with.
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:02 AM   #13
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Funny you bring up both of those NW models as I have the floor plans sitting beside me. I love how they have printables of their floor plan, photos and specs all on one page. It makes it so easy to compare. Both of those floor plans were very well laid out and on my short list. I would have definitely checked them out if I had a dealer close by, but the nearest one I found was 150 miles a way. I have read a lot about the dealer being as important as the brand. We pick up our Grand Design Reflections 150 260RD tomorrow.
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Old 11-04-2020, 06:09 AM   #14
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Funny you bring up both of those NW models as I have the floor plans sitting beside me. I love how they have printables of their floor plan, photos and specs all on one page. It makes it so easy to compare. Both of those floor plans were very well laid out and on my short list. I would have definitely checked them out if I had a dealer close by, but the nearest one I found was 150 miles a way. I have read a lot about the dealer being as important as the brand. We pick up our Grand Design Reflections 150 260RD tomorrow.
I believe you will be happy with the GD Reflection. GD seems to be more responsive to issues and better customer service. Personally I wouldn't have considered 150 an insurmountable distance to travel to buy. If you have a "bad dealer" who puts you with warranty work at the back of the line, you could drive 150 miles many times in that time frame and perhaps be using the trailer rather than seeing it at the back of the lot getting dusty. Hopefully that won't be the case and your issues will be minimal and quickly rectified.
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