We towed a 2000 CRV and had no problems. Basically the same as the 97. I believe they put a bigger engine after the first couple of years and possible bigger tires. The biggest negative of the older CRV's and even the newer ones is the road noise. That is why we upgraded to the 2003. Still noisier than we would like, but friends who have them got quieter tires and it made a big difference. Trouble is the OEM tires don't wear out too soon!
Honda is a great vehicle and towes well. Follow the procedures Honda spells out for towing: put in neutral from drive, not from reverse and let the engine run about 3 minutes before towing and every 8 hours to circulate the tranny fluid. Then you are good to go.
Joe in Seattle; winter: Motorcoach CC, Indio, CA
2015 Essex 4503
2010 Honda CRV toad