Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS


Well, my wife and I have finally agreed upon a floor plan that might work for us. Does anyone here have a Cardinal 37RL or Prairie Schooner 36FQS? We will be fultiming in this RV for a few years while traveling for work and we appreciated the combination of good insulation and plenty of space (I personally liked how you can close the door between the living room and kitchen when I need a quite place to study).

Here are some of the features that we LIKE about each model:


2 fridges (my wife loves to cook! and I love to eat! :laugh: )
The washer/dryer can be placed in it's own space without taking away from bedroom closet space.
French door between living room and kitchen.

Prairie Schooner:

12 gal water heater
Excellent insulation (the best I've seen so far in four season fifth wheels)
Sink in bedroom is not by the bed

Going through specifications is something that I and my DW are doing, but we would also like some of your personal input (all you who are wiser and more experienced than us :) ). Anything that you particularly liked or disliked about either? Please let me know!

Also, in my research, apparently not any 3/4 ton gas truck will do for this kind of weight. Is this also the case with diesel trucks? Or are they (3/4 ton diesel trucks) pretty much equal and up to the task? Again, thanks for the input!

Re: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

Hello Mark,
I sell Prairie Schooner so I will be a little one sided here. Prairie Schooners walls are the best insulated, but also made by Vacuum Bonding. They are placed in a machine that puts over 500lbs. of pressure per sq. ft. and pressed for 40-50 mins. In this time, vacuum is pulled on the wall, like you seal food. When the wall comes out of the machine, it is ready for use. Forest River does not own a vacuum bonding machine. They use the pinch roller process. The wall is rolled through a series of rollers and the wall is then left out to dry. The wall is pinched to size for only a few seconds going through the rollers.
There is also solid hard wood in the Schooner. There is not one piece of man made wood in the Schooner cabinets, drawers, or dressers. Those are just a couple of things. It is really a long list.

About trucks, my 3/4 diesel trucks listed below are rated to tow a 15,700lb. fifth wheel. You are correct that gas trucks are not rated that high. The Schooner you like will weigh a little over 12,000lb. Check the manufacture you like to see their tow specs.

If I can help you more, let me know.

C Nash

Senior Member
Re: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

Mark, I agree with GTS on this one and I have no connection with prairie Schooner or Forest River. I have looked at both and think the Sconner far superior to the Cardinal for what you are planning. The Schooner was higher priced .
Re: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

Yes, the Schooner is higher priced than the Cardinal. I strongly believe in the saying "you get what you pay for". Gulf Streams Sedona is targeted directly at the Cardinal as far as pricing. The walls are built in the Sedona exactly as Prairie Schooner.

DL Rupper

Senior Member
RE: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

Hey Mark, go with the 3/4 ton diesel pickup. My diesel tows 12,000 lbs easily and gets 11 mpg while doing it. GTS offers pretty good advice so if you are trying to decide between the Cardinal and Prairie Schooner I'd go with the Schooner.
RE: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

I am not wanting to start trouble here but would like to ask some questions. I was told by a friend, who hapens to be a salesman for an RV dealer. I will tell you up front that the dealer he works for does not sell the brand of fifth wheels that we are seriously looking at for purchase. I say that so you will understand that he is not trying to get our business by talking bad about a certain brand.

Anyway, so you all will know, we are both on a fixed income and we already have our tow vehicle; a 2004 1-ton dually Chevy, 8.1 Vortec, 4.10 axle ratio, 4x4 so we know what we can handle weight wise and all. We have our property for sale and as soon as we close we plan on either ordering or possibly buying something that is already on a dealer lot that we would be happy with. We do plan on full timing in our fifth wheel also.

We have narrowed down our choice to Prairie Schooner, Heartland Bighorn or Keystone Montana. We really liked the Prairie Schoner and the floor plans and what all they offer as standard and options for their units. The salesperson friend of ours told us that we would have major problems getting repair work done at any place other than a Gulf Stream dealer because other places have a very hard time getting approved to do the work and then getting the actual money from the manufacture. I have to say that it really scares me that many dealers will not work on that particular brand. Is this true? If it used to be, has Gulf Stream fixed this problem with the factory? The reason I ask this because we would have to drive quite a way to actually buy any of the units we are looking at. And I have to say that I really like the Prairie Schooner and lean toward it. The local dealers would have no problem with working on the Montanas or the Bighorns. How can a person get by this problem and why would Gulf Stream make it so hard for other dealers to do warranty work on their units? As a full timer we would not be staying around the actual dealer we purchased from so we would like to be sure that our unit repaired wherever we happen to be at any given time. Is this asking too much? Is there a way for us to ok the warranty work with the factory before we actually go to some repair facility? And how does one go about this?



Senior Member
RE: Cardinal 37RL vs Prairie Schooner 36FQS

As a strong supporter of the RV Consumer Group, there is really no competition for my vote as the Prairie Schooner wins by a wide margin.

Graphic Queen,

I only know what I read as I am a motorhome person, not a fiver owner but I do read a lot of reviews and am a fulltimer for more than six years so we know many who fulltime in fivers and I can tell you that what your friend tells you is true of warranty work for any RV. Only authorized dealers are able to perform warranty work no matter what brand or type RV you buy. As one who worked with sales people for more than 30 years, I think that your friend is spinning a typical line of a sales pitch. Let me ask you a question. When was the last time that you heard of any Ford product that could get warranty service at a dealer for something other than Ford products? The RV industry is no different. The only exceptions that we have seen are the few "service only" RV shops which do at times have authority to do warranty support for manufacturers, even though they do not sell any brand. They probably have better success in getting that kind of authorization because they do not sell the composition's product either.