Our tow vehicle choice is definitely opposed by a number of people on the site.
We tow with a 2004 Honda CRV with 5 speed manual transmission. It has a 2.4L gas engine with about 160 hp and 180 ft lbs of torque. It has an 'on demand' 4 wheel drive that kicks in automatically when a front wheel slips.
Mileage depends on the type of driving. Not towing we get 30 mpg on the highway. Around town we typically get 26 mpg. Towing last year for 315 days we averaged 22.5mpg. We typically tow in 4th gear because our ultra gauge says we get the best mileage in 4th which means about 3000 rpm.
Our Honda is rated to tow 1500 lbs in the USA. In Europe 1500 lbs is the rating for towing a trailer without brakes
. In Europe it's rated for about 3000 lbs if the trailer has brakes
. We follow the European ratings and of course have brakes
We have been towing for 5 years and our Honda now has 180,000 miles on the odometer. It has never had a driveline failure. This year we had one of the two radiator fans fail. Same clutch as the day we bought it. We use a 3500 lb Curt Hitch. We do not use a weight
distribution hitch but do have an anti-sway bar.
We have made two loops of the USA...many Rockies crossings.... and a NB, NS, Nfld, Labrador and Northern Quebec loop...tons of steep, dirt road grades... all without issue. Clmbing western moountains we are generally im 4th downshifting to 3rd when necessary.
Our trailer is a Scamp
16. It weighs 2400 lbs; 200 lbs of this is tongue weight
. The Honda has a 100Kg/220 lb limit on the tongue weight
. We stay under it by having one propane
tank, one battery
and loading sensibly. We do carry at least a 1/2 tank of water at all times. Our trailer has more organized storage space then most Scamps because we travel extensively. We have also towed a heavier Casita
16 about 5,000 miles. (if you don't know our trailer read Preparing a 1991 Scamp
We generally drive at 55 mph except for Interstates where we drive at 60 mph. We do not rush up to stop lights/signs and jam on our brakes. We generally coast into these situations. We are not hyper mileage people but are sensible drivers. We find the Scamp
(and Casita) tow beautifully. No complaints what so ever.
I know there are people who think you need to be able to go 75 mph, I used to be one of them but not on tires
rated for 65 mph as mine are. It's also apparant that high speeds are more dangerous and I suspect more so as one ages and this is our 12th year of at least 7 months a year on the road.
We have tire pressure monitors on our trailer and we are checkers and recheckers of our setup. We never let our tires
get old. Being old we have time to be careful.
Our goal when we bought the Honda was 10 years/250,000 miles, that seems likely. Actually the Honda has another 50,000 unregistered miles of being towed behind our Motorhome.
We most love our Honda because it has been extremely reliable and gets good mileage. It has low depreciation with time but is not much of a concern because we keep them a long time and usually pass them on to family members.
To be balanced, the critics of our tow vehicle mainly are concerned about liability and warranty issues. To us the latter is a mute issue. We've had 5 or 6 Hondas and simply have never had a warranty issue. We did have an air conditioner fail once after 60,000 miles, well out of warranty, and Honda fixed the $1100 problem at no charge and without us screaming and shouting.
Our insurance company insures both are only vehicle, the Honda, and our trailer. We were hit once when towing and the company covered all repair costs.
That's our situation so far. I report what's worked for us.
Unfortunately Honda no longer sells the manual transmission CRV in the USA. We may have to switch to an Outback, our kids own one and we could do an extended test, or try a Honda automatic.
If I missed anything please don't hesitate to ask.