As owners of a large Class A motorhome, we flat tow a Honda CR-V behind our rig and have done so for nearly two decades now. Yes, the SAME Honda CR-V! We bought it brand new in 2003… specifically to tow behind us when we became full-time RVers. It’s been a fantastic vehicle for us and has never left us stranded, not even once. Even though we’ve used it’s all-wheel-drive capability to travel off-road in places that might bring our sanity into question! Our little CR-V has handled all of our adventures with ease.
We love this midsize SUV because it’s practical, comfortable, offers a lot of room for passengers and cargo, gets good gas mileage, and is as easily navigated along challenging terrain as it is on city streets. It’s fantastic for day trips and for errands that may find us loading it up with the loads of food and other necessities in preparation for a long boondocking trip.
Because of all of these factors (comfort, practicality, reliability, and durability), lots of RVers choose to flat tow a Honda CR-V behind their motorhomes.
But how do we tow our Honda CR-V? Are there options? Can we tow it with all four wheels on the ground? Are there restrictions when you flat tow a Honda CR-V? In today’s post, we’re asking and answering all of these questions, and more!
Can a Honda CR-V Be Flat Towed?
The answer to this question is an emphatic YES… with one important caveat. It depends on the model and model year. Our 2003 CR-V can be flat towed, and that’s exactly how we’ve chosen to tow it for many years. Unfortunately, due to drivetrain changes, only Honda CR-Vs before the 2015 model year are flat-towable (as in 2014 and older). So, if you can buy a Honda CR-V that is a pre-2015 model, you will be able to flat tow it. Newer models cannot be flat-towed.
Will Flat Towing Hurt Your CR-V?
As long as you use the proper procedure for flat towing, no harm will come to your Honda CR-V from the process of flat towing.
You can flat tow a Honda CR-V safely at speeds up to 65 mph. With all four wheels on the ground, you’ll avoid damage to the 4WD system. And, of course, you’ll want to use a quality tow bar.
On that topic, check out our video about how to connect and disconnect a tow bar:
Does Honda Approve of Flat Towing a CR-V?
The pre-2015 Honda CR-V is approved by Honda for flat towing as long as you follow the proper procedure as laid out by Honda. Following are the steps Honda specifies to prepare to tow an automatic transmission CR-V.
NOTE: be sure to check your owner’s manual, as there may be slight differences between model years.
- Connect the CR-V to your RV’s tow bar, making sure all connections are tight and secure
- To prepare for towing, you’ll need to start the engine and depress the brake, then shift the transmission through all the gears one at a time (P/R/N/D/2/1).
- Next, shift it into drive, and finally into neutral. Let the engine run for about three minutes, then shut it off.
- Make sure the parking brake is released.
- Turn the ignition key to the accessory position (ACC 1) so the steering wheel is unlocked.
- The next step is, in our experience, where the owner’s manual is incorrect. They say to leave the key in the accessory position (ACC 1) to keep the steering wheel unlocked, and turn off the radio and any other accessories to avoid draining the battery. But... after turning the key to the accessory position, the steering wheel remains unlocked, even when the key is turned back to the OFF position. As long as you don’t remove the key, the wheel stays unlocked. So our procedure for nearly two decades has been the same on this one: turn the key to the accessory position, then back to off, and leave the key in the ignition, but turned off. It’s then our (good) habit to turn the wheel a little to the left & right to confirm it’s still unlocked. In all these years, we’ve never accidentally started to drive away with the wheels still locked…. which would of course be an unfortunate self-inflicted wound. Don’t do that!
- If you tow more than 8 hours in one day, repeat steps 1 & 2 above before continuing to tow to lubricate the automatic transmission.
Our CR-V happens to be a stick shift model. That’s not by accident, as we prefer those (Peter has never actually owned a single automatic transmission car in his entire life). The benefit to our manual transmission CR-V when it comes to flat-towing is that there’s even less to do to prepare to tow, other than a couple of pretty obvious ones: transmission in neutral; parking brake off; steering wheel unlocked. That’s it. There’s surely not a car on the market that’s any quicker and easier to prepare to flat tow!
What Speed Should You Drive While Flat Towing?
It’s worth repeating that in order to safely flat tow a Honda CR-V or any other vehicle, you should travel at speeds no higher than specified by the manufacturer. In our case, that’s 65 MPH. Again, check the owner’s manual for your specific model year of CR-V to ensure that didn’t change.
Tips for Flat Towing Your Honda CR-V
Following are a few tips to keep in mind when flat towing your Honda CR-V:
- Use a good quality RV tow bar system.
- Pay attention to your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) if you’re carrying cargo in your tow vehicle.
- Connect and disconnect on a level surface when possible.
- When you pull up to the rear of the RV, align the vehicle as straight as possible with the tow bar
- Be sure to attach the safety cables and the breakaway cable!
Having flat towed our 2003 since it was new, we can certainly vouch for the fact that the Honda CR-V is a fantastic tow vehicle from a number of perspectives. It carries 5 passengers and a generous amount of cargo; it’s practically bullet-proof; it gets a pretty solid 25 MPG under most conditions; it has been incredibly reliable and has required very minimal maintenance over the years; and it can maneuver easily through city streets or take us over some pretty insane terrain when we’re in adventure mode, especially since our is an all-wheel-drive model.
The CR-V has long been a popular tow vehicle for many good reasons, even with it only being an option on the used market now. On that note, if Honda releases a new CR-V that’s flat towable again, we’ll probably be first in line. Ours is still in great shape, but nearly 20 years is a long time for a couple of car nuts to go without a new one!
With the right combination of a pre-2015 Honda CR-V as your tow vehicle and a good tow bar system, you’ll enjoy bringing your toad along as safely and seamlessly as we do.
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