Keystone RV – Cougar 25MLE
A Half-Ton Towable Treasure!
Road test and photos by Norm Rosen
The RV Lifestyle Magazine Road Test team had the pleasure of visiting John Petrie at Niagara Trailer Sales in beautiful St. David’s Ontario, to take a close look at the 2024 Keystone RV Cougar 25MLE travel trailer. St. David’s is about half-way between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, in the heart of Ontario’s wine country.
We selected the Cougar 25MLE as the featured model in our Winter 2024 issue for several reasons: it is a truly ingenious “couples coach”; it embodies state of the art RV technology for the towable trailer sector; and it presents an excellent value for the RV enthusiast.
The 29 ft. 11 in. 25MLE is engineered to be “half-ton towable”, tipping the scales at 6,525 lb. dry weight with a carrying capacity of 2,275 lb. and a hitch weight of 695 lbs. This trailer is referred to as an “eastern” model – designed for maximum camping flexibility.
The “west coast” Cougar Sport travel trailer models offer streamlined appearance, lighter weights, and price points that make it easy to get into Cougar’s legendary style and quality.
Cougar half-ton travel trailers have premium features including full auto-levelling, Keystone RV’s boondocking-friendly SolarFlex™ packages, and larger tank capacities.
We matched the trailer with a GMC Sierra 2500 series pickup, the optimal category of tow vehicle for a trailer of this size and weight. We matched the truck to the trailer with a Blue Ox class III equalizing hitch.
We really like this size trailer – at just under 30 feet, it’s large enough to accommodate a family, yet small enough to be manoeuvrable in tight spaces. This unit is ideal for touring, and it’s a great choice for people who want to be able to “work from the road.”
The Cougar Premium and Half-ton models have what Keystone RV calls Climate Guard protection – that is a package designed to keep owners comfortable in temperatures up to 110°F and down to 0°F. For cool weather camping, the trailer has 12V electric heat pads on all holding tanks.
Cougar trailers have a heated and enclosed underbelly, above the Coroplast underbelly exterior is a layer of astro-foil insulation beneath the holding tanks, with a second layer of fibreglass insulation above the tanks. There is a heat duct that runs adjacent to the water lines, pumping heat around the fresh tank to prevent tanks, waterlines, and gate valves from freezing.
The sleek aerodynamic front cap features automotive grade painted fiberglass with KeyShield™ protection. There is a Radiant foil barrier in the front cap to reduce the amount of radiant heat that can come from the units’ front cap during summer months.
The double-insulated laminated rear wall is an exclusive design that combines rolled fibreglass and a second layer of styrene insulation.
The Cougar has laminated sidewalls with 5-sided aluminum superstructure.
The Cougar 25MLE comes with standard equipment that some of the competitors have started to delete from their trailers. This trailer has a rear bumper – a perfect spot to mount a spare tire, a bike rack, or a cargo carrier. It has a roof ladder so you can inspect and, if necessary, maintain the roof and keep the awning clear of leaves and road debris. The one-piece roof is engineered to hold your weight – it’s what the industry refers to as a “walk-on” roof – but please be careful whenever you venture up to the top of any trailer – it’s a long tumble if you stumble! The roof is finished with an Alpha Super Flex roof membrane with a limited lifetime warranty.
There has been some concern in the industry that some RV floors have been lightened to the point that they are no longer strong – in the Keystone Cougar, the HyperDeck™ floor is a design created by Keystone’s Innovative Lab – it’s a one-piece floor engineered with 100% inorganic materials to resist water damage – the result is said to be stronger, lighter and more resilient than traditional wood laminated flooring.
Slide-out technology has come a long way in the past few years – the Cougar utilizes the Innovation Lab’s Tru-Fit™ Slide which provides best-in-class durability and weather protection. Keystone’s Tru-Fit™ frame uses structural I-beam frame components with stamped steel cross-members and outriggers – every Cougar frame is custom engineered for each model in the line. This is a key element that optimizes the slide position to reduce stress on the structure and the slide motor, for more durable and consistent performance.
There is a flexible rubber seal on the slide-out structure and the side wall, which doubles protection against wind, water, and road debris. The slide-out has an astro-foil barrier featuring a double-layer construction and air pockets for additional insulation. There is an optional slide-topper package.
The Cougar 25MLE is a very well designed and well-equipped model. Unlike many of the competitive models, this trailer has a rear bumper with a 2″ accessory hitch with 300 lb. capacity that can be used for a bike rack or a cargo carrier. The trailer comes with a full-size spare tire, a ladder, and heavy-duty crank down stabilizing jacks. The 12V tongue jack is smooth and fast, making the hitching process a breeze. Two 30 lb propane tanks are mounted on the trailer tongue, the easy access LP tank cover is a nice touch.
At the campsite, you can see the experience of the designers in action – the hookups are placed exactly where you need them, your cables and hoses for the electric, water, and sewer systems stow conveniently in the exterior storage compartments, and there is plenty of space for your camping gear. The trailer has a 50 Amp electric system, pre-wired and braced for the optional ducted bedroom A/C.
The front storage compartment provides pass-through convenience, and it’s the ideal place for the in-Command® Solar system control box, the in-Command® Body Control Module (BMC) and the battery disconnect switch. The compartments have slam-latch baggage doors, which work very well in this application.
The 18’ electric power awning extends in a matter of seconds to provide shade and shelter, and this sets the stage for patio entertaining – the awning lights are very attractive at night, and the exterior weather resistant speakers sound great. The awning has a gas strut arm that is very well designed – much better than the typical manual extending awning brace.
The Lippert SolidStep® is a large aluminum entry step system that is solid yet very easy to deploy and retract – we suggest that you place a boot tray just inside the door, to catch whatever moisture or campsite debris might fall off the steps when you stow them in the door frame. The entry assist handle is large and well-padded, and it folds back against the side of the trailer, locking securely in both the stowed and deployed positions. The friction hinge used on the entry door is a great idea, especially on windy or stormy days.
At the rear on the patio side of the trailer there is an exterior kitchen compartment equipped with a mini refrigerator and a Capital Griddle™ cooktop.
There is an outside shower – ideal for washing off sand from the beach, cleaning your bikes, or cooling off the kids and the dog on a hot summer day.
The 15,000 BTU Coleman Mach Quiet Series main A/C with exclusive Blade high-performance air management system is quiet and efficient, ideally suited to a trailer of this size. You can order an optional 13,500 BTU ducted second A/C, ducted and thermostatically controlled.
The exterior sidewalls are very nicely finished, with a curved skirt at the bottom that wraps around the frame of the trailer, so the side view is smooth, and the graphics are very tasteful – this is a design that looks great today, and it will look just as nice years down the road. The front cap is contoured for aerodynamics as well as eye appeal, and the lights in the cap are a very nice touch.
Keystone RV Technology
The Cougar’s electronic control system has what the company refers to as a “Giggy Box” – the trailer’s 12V power distribution centre. This control box has the wiring and circuitry for the 7-way Bargman cord connections with distribution block, colour-coded to SAE standards; the battery disconnect (available as standard equipment or as an aftermarket option on some models); automotive-grade, auto-resettable fuses (better known as mini breakers); and inline fuse connections.
This unique device, developed by Keystone Innovation Labs, was developed to organize and centralize an RV’s 12V wiring connections. It allows owners turn off all 12V power to the RV, eliminating parasitic draw that can cause dead batteries, but it maintains power to the breakaway switch for safety. In RVs that are equipped with a solar power system, the batteries will still be charged when the disconnect is in the OFF position. As you might expect, the back of the Giggy Box lid has a diagram identifying every item and circuit.
For more information about Keystone RV’s Giggy Box, please watch the video below.
On the Road
This Cougar is one of the first production models to have the Lippert Anti-Lock Braking System – this is a major advance in trailer technology, enhancing control and safety in a wide range of road and weather conditions. The trailer has heavy duty axles with “never-adjust” brakes.
You can generally tell how serious a trailer manufacturer is about their units being towed, by checking the selection of tires. The Cougar 25MLE rides on Goodyear ST225/75 R15 Endurance tires designed specifically for trailers – these are load range E tires rated for maximum load at 80 PSI, designed with Durawall® Technology and “scuff guard” sidewalls. Made in USA, these are serious tires for serious RV touring, and the deluxe aluminum wheels are stylish and functional.
All of the RV components – the furniture, the refrigerator, the air conditioner, are high quality, because these are the elements that have to work perfectly for you to enjoy a hassle-free RV vacation, and contribute to a strong resale value when it’s time to move up to a new RV.
Entertaining in the Cougar 25MLE
The piece de resistance in the Cougar 25MLE is the rear galley and entertainment area. The floor plan is ingenious – a galley designed across the rear wall of the trailer, with a residential size refrigerator in the driver’s side slide-out, along with theatre seating – the large windows provide a view of your campsite on the dinette side, and the adjacent site on the slide-out side. Our test unit had the optional theater seating with heat and massage IPO tri-fold sofa.
Your technology components include an LED HDTV, 12V AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3/Bluetooth® player with HDMI ARC control, 12V USB charging centers, and exterior TV hookup.
The arched “barrel ceiling” adds to the impression of spacious design in this area, and the bright décor brings a fresh new style to the overall impact of the trailer’s interior.
The large TV mounted above the dinette is ideally positioned for the whole family to enjoy – whether they relax in the theatre seating or snack at the dinette while watching Monday Night Football, and you don’t have to miss a single play because the fridge is right there at arm’s length from the best seats in the house. There is a Winegard Air 360+ Omni-Directional rooftop antenna with exclusive satellite pass-through, and a KeyTV™ multisource signal controller.
Interior Design and Décor
The Cougar 25MLE has large, tinted safety glass windows with blinds. For cold weather camping, you can order the optional dual-pane frameless windows. There are several components in the Cougar that we were very impressed with – including the 5,500 BTU electric fireplace, the night roller shades throughout the unit, and the little touches – like the dimmer switch in the slide out.
Ingenious Floor Plan…
For a travel trailer of this size, the 25MLE has a very clever floor plan – obviously created by people who have a great deal of camping experience. The central entrance gives you easy access to the bathroom, as well as the rear lounge.
There are several advantages of going with a trailer in this size range – you don’t have the stress of towing a larger trailer; the 25MLE is relatively light and very aerodynamic, so it tows like a dream at highway speeds. The shape of the fibreglass front cap adds eye appeal, and more – it’s a timeless design that will maintain its value for years to come.
The Keystone Cougar is the brand design leader – the sleek and finely engineered trailer is a top seller in North America, thanks to the leading-edge design, construction, and décor.
The Keystone family of RVs are in a constant state of innovation – always trying to incorporate suggestions from the field into new and exciting models for active RV enthusiasts.
There are several elements of the Cougar that give you the opportunity to order your trailer “fully loaded” or ready for upgrades. For example, our test unit was pre-wired for a backup camera, and an additional roof air conditioner.
Interior Floor Plan and Décor
The Cougar features residential, shaker style hardwood cabinet doors and drawers. We really like the combination of light pastel cabinetry with the occasional dark accents – it’s a design element that has been adapted from modern residential styling, and it really makes the interior “pop.” We were impressed that the wainscotting inside the galley cabinets matches the galley wall… that’s the first time we have noticed this design element, and it works very well from a visual as well as a practical perspective.
Overall, the interior is bright, clean, modern, and easy to take care of.
The roof construction uses arched rafters that provide 84″ ceiling height – the curved roof surface facilitates runoff, so you have fewer concerns about leakage. The roof structure encloses a new ducted air conditioner system that incorporates replaceable filters, similar to a residential HVAC system – you can clean the filters, or replace them, as needed. Our test unit had the optional Blade Pure™ 15K BTU ducted ultra quiet Coleman Mach Quiet Series A/C & residential filter. The HVAC system utilizes Tuf-Lok™ thermoplastic duct joiners.
This trailer is designed for couples, and easily accommodates families thanks to the sleeping options available in the dinette and entertainment areas. In addition to the very comfortable king size bed in the front master bedroom, the Cougar can be outfitted with a very comfortable tri-fold sleeper sofa in the slide-out section, and the dinette booth can be used as an additional sleeping area, bringing the sleeping capacity of the trailer to four adults.
The Cougar 25MLE floorplan features a rear galley that compliments an excellent dining and entertainment floor plan. The mid-bath effectively separates the front master bedroom from the rest of the trailer, assuring privacy and quiet if some of your crew prefer to stay up late or get up early.
Comfort and Convenience
There are many aspects of the new Cougar that combine style with the latest in RV technology. For example, Keystone RV, in conjunction with ASA Electronics, developed the iN-Command® control interface – a clean, easy to use touchpad and Smartphone app that provides a multi-functional “Global Connect” to control and monitor many of their RV’s functions from anywhere in the world using Wi-Fi and cellular data connections.
Cougar Premium and Half-ton models have what Keystone RV calls Climate Guard protection – a package designed to keep owners comfortable in temperatures up to 110°F and down to 0°F. The system includes remote temperature sensors that interact with the iN-Command®️ Control Systems with Global Connect so you can monitor and control your trailer’s interior temperature from anywhere, using the smartphone app, or from the control panel in the trailer.
The Cougar 25MLE features a 30,000 BTU ducted LP furnace and a 5,500 BTU electric fireplace. In-floor heating ducts distribute warmth throughout the trailer, keeping the floor “barefoot comfy” on all but the coldest days.
In the Galley
The Cougar has residential hardware and hidden hinges on cabinet doors, and seamless, pressed countertops. We were very impressed with the stainless steel undermount kitchen sink, and the high-rise chef’s faucet and sprayer. There is lots of counter space for a trailer of this size, and four banks of drawers.
Meals in the Cougar are enhanced by the space and ease of access to the booth dinette, and you will enjoy the convenience of the wall-mounted Dream Dinette™ design. There is an option to select a wall mounted free-standing table and chairs, but we find the dinette is more practical as it gives you the option to increase the sleeping capacity of the trailer.
We were very impressed with the array of appliances in this trailer, including the 10.4 Cu. Ft. Norcold 12V refrigerator, the 0.9 Cu. Ft. microwave, and the 21″ Furrion® range with Piezo ignition and glass stovetop cover.
In the Bedroom
The 25MLE has a very bright and spacious front master bedroom, with a king-size 70” x 80” bed, lots of storage space, and large windows that provide excellent flow-through ventilation. We like the décor appeal of the Shiplap style decorative accent wall behind the bed. The bedroom has LED reading lights, outlets, and USB ports on both sides of bed. For your convenience, the bedroom is cable TV / satellite ready. The bedroom has a privacy door to the hallway, and you are just a few steps away from the large bathroom.
In the Bathroom
The Cougar has a good size walk-in shower with a tri-fold glass door and skylight, and a porcelain foot flush toilet. The bathroom vanity features a seamless, pressed countertop with a large sink. Above the vanity is a medicine cabinet. The bathroom has a brushed nickel towel rack, and an illuminated light switch.
There is a Girard tankless on-demand water heater for your galley and shower convenience.
Warranty and Roadside Assistance
The Cougar has a 3-year limited structural warranty and a 1-year limited base warranty.
Niagara Trailers, as well as several of the Canadian Cougar dealers, are part of the RV Care Network – a group of more than 30 Canadian dealers from coast to coast who share the commitment that RV Care dealers make to each other – that they will take care of any of the RV Care customers as if they were their own customers – whether they come from a having purchased an RV at a dealership on the other side of the continent or not.
RV Care is affiliated with the Route 66 group – a huge network of American RV dealers – so you can feel very confident that if you have a problem on the road, you will be very well taken care of by a network of hundreds of outstanding RV dealers.
Buying from an RV Care dealer is very smart decision if you’re looking at doing any serious amount of travelling.
The Bottom Line…
The Keystone RV Cougar 25MLE is a sleek, stylish, and innovative travel trailer, ideally suited for your touring as well as seasonal camping adventures.
Very well engineered and built to bring years of camping comfort, this trailer is a benchmark for the half-ton towable category.
2024 Keystone RV Cougar 25MLE Travel Trailer
Length: 29’ 11”
Height: 11’ 5”
Shipping weight: 6,525 lbs
Carrying Capacity: 2,275 lbs.
Tire size: ST225/75R15
Brakes: Lippert ABS
Fresh Water: 54 gal.
Gray water: 60 gal.
Waste water: 30 gal.
Propane: 60 lbs. (2 x 30)
Furnace: 30,000 BTU ducted
Fireplace (electric): 5,500 BTU
Sleeping capacity: 6
Refrigerator: 10.4 cu. ft.
MSRP: $63,900 (CDN) as tested, FOB St., David’s Ontario.
Many thanks to the team at Niagara Trailers for their assistance with this road test feature. https://www.niagaratrailers.com/
For more information please visit the Keystone RV website at:
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