The Honda CR-V is a popular compact SUV that combines dependability and comfort with excellent horsepower. If you’re looking for a day-to-day car that can also tow camping equipment for weekend getaways, the CR-V is a great option. We’ve laid out everything you need to know about the CR-V’s towing ability and all the ways you can make work.
Honda CR-V has a maximum towing capacity of 1500 pounds. You can pull the weight of a small camper or boat—and a good handle. For a compact SUV, the Honda CR-V tows extremely well and is a good option for occasional towing needs. You can add a tow package for your CR-V from your dealer or install an aftermarket package and be ready to tow.
There are a lot of factors that play into towing. You’ll need a good set-up: a towing package and hitch, as well as any other accessory you choose to add. If your goal is to go camping, you’ll also need to choose a camper that falls in the right weight range. Miniature campers, such as teardrop trailers, pop-up trailers, and stand-up campers, all have models that the CR-V can tow with ease. But experts recommend that the load should fall 20%-35% below maximum towing capacity, so the ideal camper weight is between 1000 and 1200 pounds.
One thing to remember about the weight capacity is that it includes not only what you’re towing, but the gear you’ve put inside it. For safety purposes, you should keep a record of everything that goes into your camper and don’t try to overload it. Better to err on the side of caution.
Honda CR-V Towing Capacity
When it comes to towing in general, the CR-v’s towing capacity of 1500 pounds is on the lower end of things. Your choices are limited to the lighter campers and small aluminum boats. That said, there’s a lot that goes into giving a compact car the amount of towing power it has:
Engines and Trim Levels: The CR-V with a standard engine (2.4L Turbocharged in-Line-4 cylinder) gives 184 horse-power, 180 lb-ft of torque, and has a towing capacity of 1500 pounds. The smaller but more powerful engine (1.5L Turbocharged in-Line-4 cylinder) gives 190 horsepower, 179 lb-ft of torque, and a towing capacity of 1500 pounds. This engine fits better with the CR-V’s upper trim levels. Honda’s 2020 CR-V offers four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. No matter what trim level you choose, the capacity for both engines is identical.
Controversy over the Towing Capacity: It is worth mentioning that there is some debate in the CR-V land as to the actual capacity of the CR-V. The European model, though a similar car, has almost twice the towing capacity of the American model. Some people believe the American CR-V’s real capacity is higher than listed. But the same disparity is seen across all different brands and makes. Most people attribute this to the difference in speed limits between the two continents. Because European limits are lower, it is safer to tow more weight than it is at a higher speed.
Tow Packages and Additional Equipment
As with any kind of towing, you’ll need a towing package with a good tow hitch to attach your vehicle to whatever you’re towing. Here’s what you’ll need to have and know for setting up:
The towing package: The tow hitch is the main part of the towing package. It also includes the gadgets you need to get the hitch working. The optional package you can buy with the Honda CR-V includes a receiver-style hitch, a drawbar, a clip, and a hitch harness.
Can I buy a Tow Package elsewhere and can I install it myself? You can buy a different tow package. Most car retail stores sell tow hitches at a reasonable price. Buy a class 1 hitch and be sure to read the instructions on the hitch, because some packages require different supporting equipment. In addition to regular packages, some people secure the connection with safety chains. If you are decent with tools, you should be able to install the package yourself. But, you must be sure that you have done it securely. If you have any doubt about its safety, go to your local mechanic or your dealer and ask them to help you with it.
What else can I add to my CR-V? You can add a mirror extension to the side mirrors to be able to see what you are towing. This can be very reassuring, especially for someone new to towing. You can put a bike rack in the place of the tow hitch or you can load gear (bikes, canoes, etc…) to a rack on top of the CR-V, leaving room for a trailer at the back. Again, remember to include the weight of your gear in your towing estimate.
What Campers can the CR-V Tow?
We’ve said that the towing options for the CR-V were limited, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t some great options. Traveling with a mini-camper is like adding a room to your life. You can center all your activities around it. Here are the best types:
Teardrop trailers: Teardrop trailers get their name, obviously, from their aerodynamic teardrop shape. Many of them are built below the 1500-pound weight limit. They can come equipped with entertainment centers, kitchen accessories, and sleeping spots. Extensions and fold-outs help maximize the space. Because they are small, different designs cater more to one thing than another. It’s up to you to choose what you want to emphasize in your space.
Stand-up Trailers: Stand-up trailers are similar to teardrop trailers, but their shape is different. Where the teardrop trailer gives length, the ‘standy camper’ gives height. This is a better option for taller folks or if you just prefer your ceilings a bit higher. Many smaller stand-up trailers also weigh less than 1500 pounds and can come with all the same amenities that teardrop trailers provide.
Pop-up campers: For a more tent-like feel, go with pop-up campers. These travel trailers come small enough to be towed by a CR-V, but offer more space because of the soft-sided foldouts that are built into the side. Usually, these models include the basic living necessities: a kitchenette, a dining area, beds, and bathrooms. They are also one of the most affordable options, available some places for about $3,000.
Towing a Camper
There are some helpful rules that go along with towing a camper. With a smaller car like the CR-V, it’s especially important to pay attention to them. Let’s look at the basic ones:
Tow No More than Once or Twice a Week: The CR-V has a towing capacity of 1500 pounds, but that doesn’t mean you can tow that much all day every day. In fact, if you are planning to tow more than once or twice per week, you might want to look into a more powerful towing vehicle. The CR-V tows best when it is put to recreational use only. It is not a delicate vehicle, but it is not designed for a lot of heavy pulling.
Don’t Tow More than Towing Capacity: It’s best to stay 20%-35% below capacity. Towing above it sets you up for failures in your brakes, transmission, suspension, axles, and multiple other components.
Load the Camper Well: It’s a good idea to load the heaviest pieces near the front of the trailer and the lightest at the back. You want to aim for about 60% of the weight in front, and 40% in the back. Don’t worry, it’s doesn’t have to be exact. Tie-down your load so it doesn’t shift on you while you’re driving.
Drive Carefully: When towing, drive slowly and go easy on the brakes. If you feel that the trailer is becoming unsteady, don’t use the brakes, just glide. The CR-V is easy to drive, so, with a little practice, you’ll be towing without a care in the world.
Benefits of the Honda CR-V
One of the best things about the Honda CR-V is that its power as a vehicle combines with a family-friendly set-up that is great for daily life. Here are some reasons the CR-V might be the car for you:
Versatility: The CR-V is the sort of car you can take to work with you, take to the grocery store, go into the city with, without worrying about too much gas mileage or difficulty parking. But when you go camping, you won’t feel out of place with any of the other vehicles. The CR-V pulls its wait with the best of them.
Great for Families: The Honda CR-V is one of the most popular compact SUVs on the market. It is a smooth, dependable ride and makes a great choice for families with kids of all ages. It is also a comfortable car, with seating for five and over 3 feet of legroom in both rows of seats. This combo makes it perfect for camping adventures and vacation getaways of all sorts.
Plenty of Room The CR-V has more storage space than most cars of its size. With the rear seats up, you have 39.2 cubic feet. Put them down, and you have 75.8 cubic feet. This is great for packing gear and equipment for the road.
Standard FWD vs. Real-time AWD: The CR-V comes with standard front-wheel-drive. You have the option of buying it with real-time all-wheel-drive. Some people prefer all-wheel-drive for towing, but both types get the job done.
The CR-V is an excellent choice for someone who wants towing ability without a heavy-duty towing vehicle. If miniature campers and river boating adventures appeal to you, or if you want to tow equipment for other purposes, you may want to go to your local Honda dealership and give the CR-V a drive.
If you have any questions for us, leave a comment below. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can!