Why such a response from Autocar’s readership? Well, the hybrid drivetrain has replaced the diesel (which could tow 2000kg) in the CR-V line-up, meaning the traditional tow-car option of a grunty oil-burner is no longer available to caravanners, yachtists, equestrians and the like.
As I outlined in that opening report, the CR-V has an unconventional, albeit very clever, powertrain. It’s a hybrid transmission, described by Honda as an eCVT, that is happily returning 43mpg at the moment –a pleasing result for a car of this size and weight.
The restriction, however, in the drivetrain is that the clutch used to engage the combustion engine drive and electric drive systems together has a relatively low maximum torque rating, which in turn limits the maximum towing rating of the hybrid version of this car.
Is this the same on all hybrids? Those who tow surely have similar environmental concerns as the rest of us. Does the UK automotive industry’s push toward hybrid petrol-electric drive present a wider problem to the towing community?
It’s a complicated answer at the moment, because the sector is still germinating, but there are hybrid SUVs out there that offer larger towing capacities. Perhaps the most threatening of those to the CR-V is the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which can pull 1650kg, while more premium offerings in the form of the Lexus RX450h (2000kg) and Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine (2400kg) can hook up to and haul even heavier trailers.
That said, a fair few hybridised cars from all segments max out their tow capacity around the 750kg mark of the CR-V Hybrid. Clearly, then, while the instantaneous torque on tap from electrification could have obvious towing benefits, the components involved in this complicated tech are restricting their load capacity for the time being.
Our car doesn’t have a tow bar, so I won’t be testing these limits first-hand, but last week I did trace a path that many others will do with a caravan in their rear-view mirror this summer. A long weekend on the north Devon coast allowed me to stretch the car’s hamstrings along the A303 past Stonehenge and test its holidaying proficiency, albeit in fixed accommodation.
The CR-V Hybrid displays a lot of merits: 42.7mpg, ample front and rear space for adults, a huge boot that swallowed bodyboards, wetsuits and frisbees, and a ride so well-controlled that my other half napped comfortably through most of her own surf-themed Spotify playlist.
A personal gripe is that the driver’s seat doesn’t quite suit my body shape over four hours at the wheel. Let’s politely describe my physique as ‘American’ in width, meaning side support is a little lacking.