What Small SUV Can be Flat-Towed


Taking long road trips can always be an exciting time for the family. If you have an RV, it’s great to know if you can bring your car along so you can use that vehicle to explore the surrounding area, while saving money as well.

A Honda CR-V has the capability of being flat towed. However, only models made after 2014 have the capacity to be flat towed, else the earlier models are at risk of having damage occur to the transmission. Flat Towing small SUVs made by different companies are at high risk for damage as well.

This article will cover the type of small SUV that can be flat towed. It will also cover the dangers of flat-towing a car that is not equipped to handle that type of strain.

What is Flat-Towing?

We have mentioned that flat-towing is something that happens in conjunction with an RV or large vehicle, but what does it actually mean? Flat-towing, which is also referred to as dinghy towing, is attaching a vehicle to a larger one through the use of a tow bar or straps. All four wheels of the vehicle are on the ground as it is towed by the larger vehicle, hence the name flat towing.

The embedded video provides a clear explanation of what flat towing is, as well as covering the different components necessary to flat-tow a car. If you’re busy, we’ll provide a brief summary of the different parts necessary to flat-tow a car. The tow bar and towing cables connect the car to the RV. The towing cables act as a reinforcement for the tow bar in the event that something goes wrong while driving.

A newer addition that has been added is the auxiliary braking system. For loads over 1,500 lbs. up to 3,000 lbs, it is required by the law to have this feature. What this means is that when the brakes are applied on the vehicle you are driving, brakes will be applied on the towed vehicles as well. This shortens the amount of time you have to take to slow down as well as mitigates the expense of frequent repairs. Although it is an expensive feature to get, it is well worth the cost because it saves a lot of money down the road.

Honda CR-V

It can be confusing to know what cars can be flat-towed, especially when it comes to an SUV that is smaller in size. The best one to be flat-towed is the Honda CR-V. However, models made before 2014 do not have this capability. It is extremely important to check the model year and the manual to ensure that flat-towing is safe on the car. Models built after 2014, are built in such a way that they can support the rigors that flat-towing can put on a car.

Additionally, it is important to remember that cars that are built with manual transmissions are usually equipped to be flat-towed. (The exception to this rule are manuals that are pump-dependent.) Because more vehicles are being built with automatic transmissions, this limits the types of vehicles that can be towed using this process. The Honda CR-V is built with a manual transmission that doesn’t require lubrication of the output shaft to come from a running engine.

In order to get your Honda CR-V ready for the road, you will need a tow kit. The video above is a great resource to refer to if you don’t know where to begin. Once this has been done, read your manual. It will provide a step-by-step guide on how to set your car up so that it can be flat-towed. If your car needs a key to get it going, you’ll need to leave your key in the car. You’ll manually shift into neutral and then be on your way.

What this means is that the transmission of the car is not put under excessive strain. Of course, there is still wear that happens to your car as you take it on the different road trips you have planned. The tires will become worn and the miles on the odometer because your car is still running.

You do have to travel a bit more slowly on the freeways. You can get up to about 65mph safely on the highway without causing any damage to the 4 wheel drive system. Going faster will cause problems though, so drive wisely (do that anyway since safety is key in all trips).

Dangers to Flat Towing the Wrong Model

Some may think that the MAZDA CX-5, Toyota RAV 4, and the Acura RDX have the capability to be flat-towed. Technically, they do have that potential but it would end up causing a lot of damage to your vehicle.

The problem that occurs with flat-towing a car that is an automatic transmission is that the output shaft has to be lubricated while the engine is running. This causes a lot of problems for your transmission. And when your transmission is put under this amount of pressure it dies along with all of the money in your wallet.

One example of this is the Honda CV-T. It has an automatic transmission so trying to flat tow this would cause a plethora of problems, mostly for trying to get anywhere. But, don’t worry, you can still tow your car if you have an automatic transmission. It may be less convenient, but it is still doable. The MAZDA CX-5 can be towed by having it placed on a car transporter or a tow truck. It isn’t the best option so it might be best to rent a car in whatever state you’re traveling to. This goes for the other cars as well.

The most important thing to remember is to check the manual for your car. This will let you know if it has the capacity to be flat-towed. If you aren’t sure where that information is in the manual, check with a local dealership. They will have the information that you need. So, if you want to take your car along on car trips, it is well worth the time to research what you want to use it for.

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

Recent Posts