The first question prospective campers ask is, “how much can my vehicle tow?” While you’re usually in a little better shape if you have an SUV, that’s not always the case, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can tow whatever you want.
But if you’re driving a Honda CR-V, how much can your vehicle tow? And if you’re purchasing an SUV with towing capacity in mind, is the CR-V a good choice? We’ll break it all down here and help you more confidently make a purchase decision. Keep reading about Honda CRV towing capacity.
What Weight Can a Honda CR-V Tow?
The 2021 Honda CR-V has a towing capacity of 1,500-pounds. This isn’t a phenomenal number, but it isn’t terrible either. Keep in mind that the towing capacity is the GVWR of the trailer – or in simple terms, how heavy the trailer can be.
It has nothing to do with hitch weight or any of the other more complicated numbers you might hear about that are related to towing. If the overall weight of the trailer is over 1,500-pounds, your Honda CR-V can’t tow it.
Finding Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity
Whether you’re driving an older model Honda CR-V or just want to verify your vehicle’s towing capacity yourself, there are two easy ways to do it.
First, you can check your Honda CR-V’s owner’s manual. While all Honda CR-V models have the same towing capacity, it’s still good to get in the practice of checking for your specific models towing capacity as it will change with some vehicles.
But if you can’t find your owner’s manual or don’t have it anymore, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
If you open up the driver’s side door and look in the door jamb, you’ll see a sticker. This is the same sticker that has the VIN on it. This sticker also has your vehicle’s towing capacity listed. As long as the sticker is still intact, you can find your vehicle’s towing capacity.
While those are the two most straightforward ways to track down the information, it’s not the only way. You can also search for your vehicle’s owner’s manual online. Just don’t trust the Google snippet that pops up. Instead, track down the information on the manufacturer’s website.
Honda CRV Towing Capacity – Can You Pull a Trailer With a Honda CR-V?
If the GVWR of the trailer is under 1,500-pounds, you can absolutely pull it with a Honda CR-V! If the question is whether or not you can find an RV trailer under 1,500-pounds, you can, but you have fewer choices.
RVs You Can Tow With a Honda CR-V
While you can’t tow a ton of camping trailers with a Honda CR-V, it’s not like you don’t have any options either. Below we’ve highlighted some of the best options available.
Teardrop trailers are lightweight and easy to tow, perfect for those with a vehicle with a smaller towing capacity. Both the MyPod and the Papa Bear are great choices to tow with a Honda CR-V. They don’t have a ton of amenities, but they offer places to store your gear and lay your head at night.
They’re an excellent choice for those looking for the ability to take their adventure anywhere!
Stand-up trailers are still significantly smaller than most RVs, but you’re going to have to deal with that if you’re towing with a Honda CR-V. Stand-up trailers allow an average-sized adult to stand up inside them, but they’re generally not as long.
But if you’re looking for the ability to stand up straight inside the trailer while getting ready, a stand-up trailer is a good choice. The good news is that several stand-up trailers are small enough for you to tow with a Honda CR-V but know that they are generally a little heavier than teardrop campers.
Our favorite choices to tow with a Honda CR-V are the MeerKat and the Relic. The Meerkat comes with a little kitchen and dining area, while the Relic is fully customizable. The fact that both of these unloaded vehicle weights are under 1,000-pounds is remarkable and perfect for those with a Honda CR-V.
Not only can you tow them, but you can load them up full of gear without worrying about overloading your SUV.
Pop-up trailers are an outstanding choice for those looking to get a little more out of their campers without packing on the extra weight. The pop-up campers that will work best with the Honda CR-V are soft-tops, which lose the harder exterior roof to save a little weight.
While there are plenty of pop-up campers out there for you to choose from, our favorite for the Honda CR-V is the Sylvan Sport. It has an equipment rack, a gear deck, and even a storage box. Of course, all that’s in addition to the tent pod that you actually sleep in.
With the versatile setup, you can turn the pop-up trailer into a toy-hauler or a wide array of other options. While the interior doesn’t have the most amenities, you can set up a table large enough for four people, and you have plenty of space to sleep.
Of course, what really sets the SylvanSport apart on our list is it’s light weight. It only weighs 840 pounds, so there’s plenty of extra weight for you to tack on heavier gear like a 4-wheeler. With the SylvanSport, you can get the full outdoor experience with a vehicle with a small towing-capacity.
Is the Honda CR-V a Good Tow Car?
If you’re looking specifically for vehicles with high towing capacities – the Honda CR-V is a terrible choice. That doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done, it’s just that 1,500 pounds isn’t much to work with.
When you’re comparing towing capacities for a midsize SUV, the Honda CR-V holds up a bit better. It’s about average compared to other midsize SUVs, but it’s on the lower end and doesn’t offer any spectacular numbers.
Overall, the Honda CR-V Is not a good tow car.
The Honda CR-V Tow Package
When you purchase a Honda CR-V with a tow package, you’re not actually increasing your vehicle’s towing capacity. So, what are you actually getting when you buy the upgrade? Well, to begin with, you’re getting a receiver-style Honda CR-V tow hitch. Without this, you wouldn’t be able to hook anything up.
Not only are you getting the hitch, but you’re also getting a drawbar, a clip, and a hitch harness to help you hook up any trailers that you decide to tow. From there, Honda gives you a few performance upgrades to help you while you’re towing. These upgrades include:
- Hill start assist
- Real-time AWD with an intelligent control system
- Vehicle stability assist with traction control
- Brake assist
None of these features are unique to tow vehicles, but they make getting the job done easier. That means whether you’re looking to tow or not – getting a tow package on a Honda CR-V might be worth the investment.
How Can I Upgrade My Honda CR-V’s Towing Capacity?
Despite what many shadetree mechanics will tell you, there’s no way to increase your vehicle towing capacity safely. That’s because there are a variety of factors that go into determining your vehicle’s towing capacity. While you can upgrade some of them – you can’t upgrade them all.
What You Can’t Upgrade
The most prominent factor that goes into your vehicle’s towing capacity that you can’t upgrade is your gear ratio. This happens inside your transmission, so it doesn’t matter what you do to the rest of your vehicle, you can’t upgrade your transmission without completely rebuilding your vehicle.
Furthermore, even if you accomplished this complicated feat, you’d still need to reprogram your vehicle’s ECM and TCM to work with the new gear ratios.
Since this is proprietary information from the manufacturer, you’ll need to learn how to access these computers yourself and write the complicated code that the engineers use when designing your vehicle.
The sad fact is that this just isn’t possible, which makes upgrading your vehicle’s towing capacity impossible.
What You Can Upgrade
While you can’t upgrade your vehicle’s towing capacity because of the gear ratios, there are other things you can upgrade on your CR-V that would affect your vehicle’s towing capacity if you could figure out the conundrum above.
These are the upgrades that people are talking about when they say you can upgrade your vehicle’s towing capacity. While they won’t improve towing capacity, they can help with overall performance.
As anyone that loves cars knows, there are plenty of ways to improve the amount of horsepower that your engine can produce. From small changes like cold air intakes and new exhaust headers to larger ones like new turbos, there are plenty of ways to squeeze extra horsepower out of your engine.
Just keep in mind that if you make significant changes, you’ll need an engine tune, or else you’ll end up damaging your engine.
Getting your Honda CR-V to go faster is one thing – giving it the brakes it needs to handle all that extra power is something else. Whether you’re towing or racing, brakes are the most critical component that you can upgrade.
That’s why the brakes play an integral part in determining your vehicle’s towing capacity. If you can’t stop on time, it’s not safe to tow, and the more weight you’re towing, the bigger brakes you’ll need to stop.
While your engine, transmission, and drivetrain make and transfer the power, the tires are what actually make use of that power. At the end of the day, all that power comes down to four wheels on your Honda CR-V.
The better your tires, the more traction you’ll get – but if you’re towing, it comes down to more than that. That’s because each tire has a rated load capacity. For a vehicle with a smaller towing capacity like the Honda CR-V, it’s not too big of a concern, but it never hurts to make sure that your tires can handle the added weight.
For an SUV like the Honda CR-V, there’s not much reason to upgrade the hitch. You’ll still only have a 1,500-pound towing capacity, even if your new hitch can handle 5,000 pounds.
It’s undoubtedly an upgradable component, but since you can’t upgrade the overall towing capacity, there’s not much point in doing it on a Honda CR-V.
What Happens If You Overload Your Honda CR-V?
You might find yourself wondering if you should just push the limits a little bit since you can’t upgrade the overall towing capacity. I mean, if it’s only a few hundred pounds over, what does it matter? And what if you’re only heading a short way down the road?
Whatever you’re thinking – don’t do it. Your vehicle has a specific towing capacity for a reason, and if you overload it, you’re opening yourself up to a litany of problems. For starters, you’re degrading the overall performance of your vehicle.
This doesn’t just affect your acceleration and your top speed either. It also affects how quickly you can stop if you need to. Furthermore, you’re putting excess stress on your transmission and every other component in your powertrain.
Just because you can get it to roll, it doesn’t mean you’re good to go. Even if you’re OK with the performance drawbacks and the potential damage to your vehicle, the truth is you’re putting yourself in potential legal trouble too.
If you get into an accident, even if it’s not your fault, you can be charged with negligence. And if the accident is your fault, you could be facing both criminal and civil charges. Driving with an overloaded vehicle simply isn’t worth the risk – no matter how short the trip.
Factors That Affect Towing Capacity
Just because your Honda CR-V has a 1,500-pound towing capacity doesn’t mean you can slap 1,500 pounds on the hitch and never worry about it. That’s because several factors can limit your vehicle’s overall towing capacity.
The most significant factor that you need to consider when towing with any vehicle is the altitude you’re driving at. A gasoline engine loses up to 4% of its efficiency per 1,000 feet of altitude. That might not sound like much, but the higher you go, the more that adds up.
Because of this, you should reduce your overall towing capacity by 2% for every 1,000 feet of altitude. So, if you’re traveling at 10,000 feet in the Honda CR-V, your already small 1,500-pound towing capacity is reduced to 900 pounds.
It’s not that you can’t tow with a Honda CR-V; you just need to be careful about the tow weight when you’re doing it at high altitudes.
Whenever you purchase a Honda CR-V with the tow package from the factory, you’re getting tires that can handle the added weight of whatever you’re towing. But when you replace your tires, you need to ensure that they have the same load ratings.
While this isn’t too big of a deal with the Honda CR-V because it has a smaller towing capacity, it’s still something that you need to double-check when purchasing new tires.
Just like your tires, when you purchase a tow package equipped Honda CR-V, they make sure that it has brakes that can handle the job. But brakes are a wearable component too, and if you get lower quality brakes when you replace them or if you don’t do the job right, you can run into problems.
This makes it more critical than ever to properly mate the brake and surface the rotors whenever you’re only replacing the pads. It might not seem like it makes that much of a difference, but even small differences get magnified when you’re towing.
Comparing The Honda CR-V
When you’re comparing the Honda CR-V to other midsize SUVs in the same class, you realize that it’s in the bottom tier of vehicles regarding towing capacity. While many of these vehicles require that you purchase an upgraded vehicle to get their higher towing capacity – the option is still there. For the Honda CR-V, it’s not.
The two top tier vehicles are the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape, with a towing capacity at 3,500 pounds. But you still have to get past the Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, and even the KIA Sportage before you come across vehicles with a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.
The Honda CR-V doesn’t have an insufficient towing capacity for a midsize SUV, but it’s not impressive either. Check out the chart below for a more comprehensive list of how it stacks up against the competition.
|Make/Model (Model Year 2021)||Maximum Towing Capacity|
|Honda CR-V||1,500 pounds|
|Toyota RAV4||3,500 pounds|
|KIA Sportage||1,653 pounds|
|Ford Escape||3,500 pounds|
|Nissan Rouge||1,350 pounds|
|Chevrolet Equinox||1,500 pounds|
|Hyundai Tucson||1,000 pounds|
|GMC Terrain||1,500 pounds|
|Subaru Forester||1,500 pounds|
|Jeep Cherokee||2,000 pounds|
|Mazda CX-5||2,000 pounds|
The Final Pull
If you’re looking to get into the RVing lifestyle and have a Honda CR-V, you’re not entirely out of luck, but your options are a bit limited. Not only will you have to be careful about which trailer you purchase, but you’ll have to be careful where you tow it too.
Don’t let this completely deter you from getting a high-quality RV though, just go into it with eyes wide open. If you take your time and do your research, there’s no reason you can’t have a great trip with whatever you’re towing behind your Honda CR-V!