There are different types of RVs: Class As, Class Bs, Class Cs, travel trailers, toy haulers, pop-up campers, truck campers, and fifth wheels. If you’ve narrowed down your choices to fifth wheels, you’ve already done a lot of work.
But even after you’ve decided this is the best option for your family, there are still so many different models and floor plans. How do you choose?
Let’s take a closer look at the Cardinal 5th wheels. These RVs are manufactured by one of the most popular companies in the RV industry and feature floor plans that feel like home. Let’s dive in!
What Is the Cardinal FX 5th Wheel?
The Cardinal Limited lineup has three models with bunkhouse floorplans for even more sleeping space. All Cardinal 5th wheels feature “Whisper Quiet” air conditioning units, hydraulic auto-leveling, and Z-frame pass-thru storage.
And these 5th wheels have been making names for themselves.
For two years in a row, the Cardinal 5th wheel line has received awards from RV News. In 2021, the 390FBX model was named the Luxury Fifth Wheel of the Year. In 2022, the 380RLX model was named the Full Profile Fifth Wheel of the Year.
These models are in the luxury lineup of Cardinal 5th wheels and the smaller 320RLX unit.
Pro Tip: Are you a first time fifth wheel buyer? After buying a fifth wheel ourselves, Here’s Our Advice for Your Next RV Purchase.
Who Manufactures Cardinal Fifth Wheels?
Forest River, one of the leading manufacturers of RVs in the country, makes the Cardinal 5th wheels. Based in Elkhart, Ind. – the RV capital of the world – Forest River manufactures a wide range of RVs.
Class A motorhome brands like Berkshire and Georgetown, Class C motorhomes brands like Sunseeker and Forester, and travel trailer brands like Cherokee and Wildwood are all manufactured by Forest River.
The company has other fifth wheels like Sabre and Riverstone, which earned Must-See RV awards from RV Business in the last two years.
About the Cardinal FX 5th Wheel
As mentioned before, Forest River has two lines of Cardinal 5th wheels. The Cardinal Limited line features 5th wheels around 42 feet to 43 feet long with a GVWR of over 15,000 lbs. The package features G-rated tires, a stainless steel sink, a 2-in-1 range and oven, and a residential dinette with four chairs. All of these floorplans have bunkhouses.
The Cardinal Luxury line features the “X” units: 320RLX, 360RLX, 370FLX, 380RLX, and 390FBX. These are shorter units since they don’t have the added length of a bunkhouse. However, the 360RLX and 370FLX models are currently unavailable.
This line features a farmhouse sink, convection microwave, and frameless automotive windows, and is prepped for a generator. These upgrades make the Cardinal Luxury line more expensive than the Cardinal Limited line of 5th wheels.
The 320RLX floorplan is the shortest unit at about 36 feet. The 380RLX floor plan is about 42 feet, and the 390FBX is a little over 43 feet. All three units have a GVWR of 15,500 lbs. The 380RLX has the largest gray tank capacity at 84 gallons, while the 390FBX has the largest black tank capacity at 79 gallons. These tank sizes are important to note when considering boondocking.
Finally, the cargo carrying capacity (CCC) of each unit varies. The 320RLX is over 4,100 lbs, the 380RLX is around 3,200 lbs, and the 390FBX has the smallest CCC at over 2,600 lbs. This is significant if considering full-timing in one of these models.
While all three of these luxury line floor plans are similar, each has its own distinctions. The 390FBX features a rear kitchen and center living area. This unit also features one and a half bathrooms. The half bathroom is next to the living area, and the full bathroom is in the front of the unit. The washer and dryer prep space is in the half bathroom.
The 320RLX and 380RLX floor plans are more similar. Both have rear living spaces with opposing slides and center kitchens with islands. One of the biggest differences is the location of the hallway. The 320RLX floor plan has the traditional passenger side hallway leading past the bathroom into the front bedroom. The hallway in the 380RLX floor plan is now on the driver’s side.
Both bedrooms have a slide-out at the head of the bed and front wardrobe space. However, the 380RLX unit features a front window dividing the wardrobe into two separate units.
The luxury line features a hydraulic slide system with 2.5-inch steel rams, the Firefly Command Center, and the hydraulic six-point auto-leveling system for easy setup. It also features 12V heat pads with underbelly ducted heat, a Girard tankless water heater, and fiberglass and foil insulated roof and floor.
The package also has a 21K Rota- Flex pin box and Road Armor suspension with wet bolts and shackles for an easy towing experience.
Inside this line, you’ll find a 50” LED television, ceiling fan, crown molding, and baseboards for a residential feel in the living room. The bedroom is prepped for a washer and dryer and features a king bed and walk-in closet.
In the kitchen, you’ll find a high-rise faucet, decorative glass cabinet doors, and a residential-sized pantry to make these 5th wheels feel like home.
Pro Tip: Tow your fifth wheel in style with one of these Best 3/4 Ton Trucks for Towing in 2022.
Is the Cardinal FX 5th Wheel Worth It?
The Cardinal “X” 5th wheels of the Cardinal Luxury line by Forest River are great options for any type of camper. Whether you’re looking for a getaway RV for a few weekends a year or looking for an RV to call home, one of these floor plans will fit your needs.
They’re designed to feel more residential than the Cardinal Limited line while remaining under 16,000 lbs. This is important for RVers wanting to tow with a single rear wheel truck and not a dually. You’ll find these models beautiful on the inside and out while still easy to maneuver.
How Much Does the Cardinal FX 5th Wheel Cost?
The new 2022 Cardinal “X” Luxury units vary in price depending on the model. Generally, they range from $90,000 to $130,000. If you’re looking for a 5th wheel that feels like home, check out the Forest River Cardinal Luxury lineup. You’ll enjoy the added conveniences of the extended seasons’ package, residential finishes, and easy set-up features.
Which floor plan will you choose? Drop a comment below!
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Now lets discuss what it’s actually like to own a fifth wheel that’s over 40 feet long. 1. Don’t plan on boondocking in very many places. These big 5’vers are not built to take the rough back roads full of potholes. also if you’ve got to go down a short steep grade (20 or 30 ft long) and back up again, (like crossing a dry creek bed) the tail will drag the ground and may tear something off. 2. Don’t plan on staying in many National Forest campgrounds as any rig over 37 foot won’t fit. If you can find a national forest campsite that’s long enough, the road may not be wide enough to back it into it. It takes a lot of space to back a fifth wheel into a spot, because you have to swing the truck so far around to get it in there. 3. Pretty much all 5’vers are over 12 ft. tall so low hanging tree limbs tend to tear the rubber roof or break the covers on the air conditioners.
My Credentials: I’ve owned a 37 foot fifth wheel (Cardinal) for 13 years and these problems have been my experience in camping in every state west of the Mississippi river. I’ve got 7 solar panels and batteries and I boondock when I can. But I’m limited because of the size of our 5ver.
One thing for all you newbies that want to boondock with solar panels and batteries. You still need a generator because If it’s cloudy or raining your not getting any charge. If your parked where trees are east or west of your rig, your only getting charged part of the day. Same goes for if your in a valley between mountains. The sun comes over the mountains late in the morning and goes down behind them early in the afternoon. Cutting your charge time at least a 1/3.
And last but very important Do not tow over 60 mph. The wait of these trailers over 60 will built up heat in the tires causing them to fail at some point and when that happens your going to have some major damage to your rig. It’s very important to replace your trailer tires every 5 years. I tried to go 6 years and had a blow out at 60 mph on Interstate 30. I got stopped in about 150 feet but it’s tore my fender skirt of the rig, rip the fender brace off. tore the wiring loose from the side lamps. and ate the floor through to the plywood above the tire.