Small SUVs like the Honda CRV appeal to those that like the feel of a sport utility vehicle but want the highest fuel-efficiency possible. Most owners think that 4-cylinder SUVs at this level are restricted from the RV world because they don’t have the pulling power. We’ll show you what campers a Honda CRV can tow and some great examples.
The 2020 Honda CRV Specs
- Engine: 1.5L In-line 4-cylinder
- HP and Torque: 190 hp/179 lb-ft.
- Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
- Trim Levels: LX/ EX/ EX-L, Touring
- Fuel-Efficiency 2WD: 34 city/ 28 highway/ 30 combined
- Fuel-Efficiency AWD: 32 city/ 27 highway/ 29 combined
- MSRP: $25,150- $33,350/ Hybrid: $27,850- $36,050
The 2020 Honda CRV is the best small SUV for its category. It’s won numerous awards from Kelley Blue Book, U.S. News and World Report, Editor’s Choice and Most Wanted from Edmunds.com.
Honda designed the CRV to have its best MPG (miles per gallon) in the city. Honda built the engine, sacrificing acceleration for fuel-efficiency. You won’t win a street race, but you’ll see the gas station savings daily stop-and-go traffic. Before you buy your new one, count how many fuel stations you pass before you need to fill up pre and post-purchase, you’ll see a difference.
Honda installs it’s Honda Sensing Suite of driver-assist technology. It includes road departure mitigation, collision mitigation braking, and other safety-oriented systems. The CRV also comes with three different driving modes:
- ECON- maximizing fuel efficiency
- Sport- increases engine performance
- EV- operates the vehicle exclusively on the electric motor under certain conditions
Towing With Your Honda CRV
It doesn’t matter if you purchase the front two-wheel drive or the all-wheel-drive version. The Honda CRV can tow or haul a trailer up to 1,500 pounds. You’ll want to set the transmission into the Sports mode to get the best out of the engine possible. The hybrid isn’t suitable for towing since it’s gas engine horsepower and torque is significantly less.
Make sure you also have the Honda tow package pre-installed. The wiring, cooling parts, and other components are factory-installs only due to the complexity and high cost of adding them aftermarket. Your dealer may have to order your vehicle since CRVs are generally not used for towing.
Towing and Max Capacity
RVs that best match small SUVs like the Honda CRV are the teardrop category. There are a few exceptions, but this is the category you want to focus your attention. The teardrop was nothing more than a contained sleeping area on wheels with a rear kitchen in an exterior back hatch in the previous eras. You’ll find that the RV industry has dramatically improved them.
Today’s teardrops have the same basic design, but you’ll find many upgraded creature comforts. Many have microwaves, entertainment centers, full climate-control, and internet capabilities. Mattresses have residential sizing and comfort levels. Roof and sidewall racks are great for adventure toys and additional storage bins.
Teardrops put all of the weight on the axles. Most only use a tongue/hitch jack for stabilization. Teardrop campers are great for weekend camping since they have small holding tanks and enough storage for a few days.
Understanding Weight Terminology
You will hear words like dry weight, gross vehicle weight, tongue weight, and many others in the RV world. These weight factors are important things to know when you’re shopping and loading up your RV. It’s especially important since you’re only working with 1,500 pounds, which very small when it comes to towing.
Before we get into the definitions, let’s spend a moment to talk about what goes into towing. Towing a travel trailer has additional attributes involved. Your engine’s has to do many things:
- Handle its own weight
- Support passenger weight
- Have enough acceleration to keep up with traffic, climb hills, and deal with road conditions
- Carry the weight of gear in the vehicle and the RV
- Pull the weight of the RV
All of this weight creates stress on the engine, transmission, and other parts of the vehicle. If you max out your CRV’s tow capacity, you’ll see the back end of the SUV inches from the ground and take a long time to get up to speed (if at all).
Ideally, towing with one or two passengers and a minimum amount of gear is the best situation.
- Dry Weight: This term is the the common descriptor for the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW). The measurement is the weight of the RV when empty.
- Wet Weight or Curb Weight: When you add fluids like freshwater and propane, this makes the coach ready to camp. It’s a good idea to travel with only a ½ or a ⅓ of your freshwater tank filled. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, but having water for emergencies is good for safety.
- Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC): The CCC is the amount of cargo weight an RV can hold. Some RV manufacturers refer to this as the Net Cargo Capacity (NCC).
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The gross vehicle weight is the combined weight of the RV (also used for passenger vehicles) with gear, passengers, and other things loaded in it. Manufacturers must publish the maximum weight an RV can hold per various industry governing authorities (the GVWR).
- Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): The gross axle weight rating is similar to the GVWR, but it deals with how much the RV’s axle can safely hold. Since most teardrops don’t have stabilizer jacks, the axle is always the coach’s primary support. You’ll see the GAWR on teardrop specs, so think of it as the GVWR for this category only.
Excellent Travel Trailers That Match Well With the Honda CRV
1. Little Guy My Pod
- Dry Weight: 630 pounds
- GAWR: 2,200 pounds
- Length: 6 feet
- Bed Size: Full-size
The Little Guy My Pod is new for 2020. This Ohio manufacturer created this teardrop camper to stay comfortable for the early and late camping season in the northern mid-west states. It’s one-piece fiberglass shell, insulation, standard A/C, and furnace match well with any small SUV or most passenger vehicles.
A single house battery supplies both the DC and AC power for all of the electronic features. You’ll find that the entertainment center includes an LED TV. There are circular DC outlets,100v plugs, and USB ports for all of your devices. The roof fan and exterior lights will make you cool in both definitions.
You can purchase the attachable five-foot by seven-foot screen room in place of an awning for added space. Whether you need room for visitors or want a protective space to dine from the mosquitoes, the tent gives you that more interior room for your camping experience.
With a GAWR, you’ll want to mind your packing. Your Honda CRV can pull a camper of this weight and size, but it’s easy to overload. If you’re camping adventure is taking you to a popular destination, make sure your packing plan leaves room for souvenir weight on your return trip.
2. inTech Chase Flyer
- Dry Weight: 950-1,280 pounds
- GVWR: 2,200 pounds
- Length: 12.4 feet
- Bed Size: Near queen-size
The Chase Flyer is a favorite among the ultra-lite teardrop camping enthusiasts due to its versatility and features. Even if you don’t choose the off-road package, this top-selling inTech product combines utility with style.
For those that must stay connected, this inTech coach has everything you need. It comes pre-wired with a solar port, cable, and other data inputs. The interior had DC, 110v, and USB charging ports built-in for your mobile devices. You can even have the roof fan replaced with their air conditioner that comes with a heat strip. The A/C only works connected to shore power.
The roof rack holds up to 300 pounds for your adventure toys. It also secures the standard or batwing awning that shades the rear and door side sections. You can purchase the rear attaching dome tent that sleeps up to three people for added interior space.
This teardrop-styled travel trailer doesn’t have a kitchen or water inputs. To compensate, a 12v cooler for a car is a great addition. This chest-style refrigerator plugs into your DC outlet in your Honda CRV’s cigarette lighter port and the DC port in the RV. Keep your perishable food and bottled water in one of these 25-50 quart units next to your portable LP camp stove.
3. Sylvansport GO
- Dry Weight: 840 pounds
- GAWR: 500 pounds
- Length: 11.9 feet
- Bed Size: Two twin-size or one full length bed for 4 people
Traditional soft-sided pop-up campers are one of the best travel trailers for midsize SUVs. Unfortunately, even the lightest and smallest versions are campers that can’t be pulled by SUVs like the Honda CRV.
The exception is the Sylvansport GO. Sylvansport found a way to create a micro expandable that can sleep up to four people, carry adventure toys (even an ATV), and convert to a pure utility trailer. The best part, it weighs less than 850 pounds.
The vinyl folds out from the top cap. It takes about 15 minutes to deploy and doesn’t require a lot of strength to set the tension poles. On either side are twin-size sleeping areas with a center table. The table is adjustable to become the base for a full-length sleeping area for four people.
Sylvansport offers accessories like the Cloud Layer sleeping bag and other products that enhance the camping experience. The portable camping kitchen gives you a contained kitchenette for all of your cooking needs. All of these accessories fit nicely in and around the GO, both dimensionally and aesthetically.
4. Coachmen Clipper 9.0TD
- Dry Weight: 1,080 pounds
- GVWR: 2,122 pounds
- Length: 13 feet
- Bed Size: ¾ queen-size
In the RV industry, many of the teardrop campers come from independent manufacturers. You’ll find that they offer high-quality travel trailers that make many best travel trailer brand lists. That’s one of the great things about this industry; even the little guys can compete with the corporate giants.
Speaking of the giants, Coachmen’s Clipper 9.0TD is an expandable teardrop that resets the entire category’s benchmark. Since 1964, Coachmen has led the industry with innovation and affordable RVs that have made them what they are today. This unit has many features you’d find in traditional pop-ups and small travel trailers three-times the weight.
You’ll find a full kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, air conditioner, and furnace within the two side cabinets. The media center is Bluetooth-ready and has speakers above the three-quarter queen-size bed. For added space, the screen room quickly constructs in the opening and makes dining al fresco a daily pleasure.
Coachmen include a foldable table and a grill that connects to the side of the coach. The quick connect LP line feeds directly to the RVs propane tank. Dry campers will also like the 16-gallon freshwater tank and optional portable cassette toilet feature options.
5. MeerKat Trailers MeerKat
- Dry Weight: 920 pounds
- GAWR: 2,200 pounds
- Length: 13 feet
- Bed Size: Near queen-size
Here at Camper Smarts, we’re always watching what’s new and exciting in the RV industry. When we saw this strange small travel trailer with its expandable roof, we got to work like an archeologist finding a long-lost relic (we wore the Fedora hat, but they wouldn’t let us have the whip).
The MeerKat is a fully self-contained travel trailer under 1,000 pounds. The long U-shaped six-seater dinette folds down to sleep two people comfortably. Under the seat opposite the door contains a well-hidden cassette toilet.
The front cabinet system has a lot of storage with drawers and cabinets. The dorm-size fridge fits nicely within it. The one-piece countertop has a molded sink basin that prevents water from finding seams. The RV’s sink is great with water-efficiency since it uses a manual pump instead of letting water flow freely.
You can purchase an optional portable, single induction burner cooktop that fits easily into one of the drawers. As you work in the kitchen, the circular pop-top roof provides additional head-room. Keeping the RV’s roof low allows for better aerodynamics while traveling. It creates less air resistance since its less than a foot taller than your Honda CRV (The CRV is 66.5 inches tall, and the RV is 77 inches tall).
How to Make a Travel Trailer Lighter
As you prepare to head out on your RV adventure, you’re figuring out what to bring with you. What clothing you’ll need, camping supplies, mobile devices, kitchenware, and many other things. Yet after you figure out your weight factors, you are afraid of overloading your CRV’s towing capacity.
Here are some tips that veteran campers use to conserve weight on their camping trips. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to keep perspective. If you’re only going for a few days, keep your gear at that level.
You can pick up your food, campfire supplies, and other one-time usage things at nearby stores in the area. There’s no need to haul it with you the entire journey. Many of the campgrounds can tell you the best places to shop. Set up your camper, then make a quick run to the store.
Chose clothing that matches well with other pieces. Blue jeans go with almost anything. Besides, camping is a relaxed atmosphere. Leave your Vogue Magazine look for your daily life.
If friends are coming with you, caravan in two vehicles. It’s not the most fuel-efficient thing to do, but they can help carry the extra camping supplies.
For other camping tips and additional info, check out our feature articles on Camper Smarts. Happy Trails!
Charles Joseph is one of the original authors of Camper Smarts from when it first started.