I'm a bit new to hauling campers but I haul other trailers all the time. Probably 1/3-1/2 of my 185k on my 2001 Mazda Tribute has had a utility trailer of some sort attached.
I'd recommend staying within the factory limits. You have to keep the Gross Vehicle Weight
in mind too when towing. You can increase your towing capacity through aftermarket modifications. Trailer brakes
for me are a must for any trailer over 2k lbs or if you are getting close to your max tow limit. If I were going to be towing consistently at or above my recommended tow capacity, I'd probably make the following modifications to my car:
- Transmission fluid cooler
- oil cooler
- power steering fluid cooler
- performance grade water pump
- potentially larger brakes
- at least a Class 3 hitch
- beef up the rear suspension (stiffer springs/shocks, rubbers in the springs, air springs, etc)
Also, can never hurt to squeeze more horsepower of your engine to help increase the capacity adding a turbo/supercharger, etc. Go find a tuner forum for your car model if you want to help boost your engine power.
I'm assuming the low tow rating on your CRV is due to a combination of a few things:
1) front-wheel drive
2) CRV is built on a Civic drivetrain and frame that's modified to ride higher and the CRV body has more weight
than the Civic body.
3) being a 4 cyl.
I would recommend hooking it up and driving to the nearest truckstop (or agriculture station; somewhere with truck scales). Weigh the camper by itself and weigh your camper and CRV hooked up together. Those weights will tell you what your working with as a starting point and how close you are to your GVWR. You sound like you should be ok to drive it to somewhere close to weigh it dry but if you're nervous, you can get a friend to pull it for you and meet you over there.