If you need a relatively roomy vehicle, with the parking space of a compact car, the 2014 Honda CR-V is one of the best picks on the market for families on a budget--especially if you don't need a third-row seat.
The CR-V packs in a lot of space. There's seating for five, but it feels almost minivan-like considering the comfort and seating position plus the excellent seat-folding arrangement, as well as the especially low cargo floor.
Front seats are soft buckets; you'll find enough support for all-day drives, but not much side support if you're on curvy roads. You won't quite fit three adults across in back, but the contours and the height are right for two adults to be content in the outboard positions (with enough legroom and headroom).
The rear seat-folding arrangement in the CR-V is better than than that of nearly any other compact crossover. With one arm and a simple pull of a strap, in a very fluid motion, the back seat's lower cushion tumbles forward into the footwell, while the headrest angles forward and the rear seatback flips over it--all going to a completely flat position, tucked ahead of the front seat.
We don't necessarily advise cross-shopping by the numbers for passenger and cargo space (they don't often correspond to real, usable space), yet cargo space with the rear seatbacks up is an impressive 37.2 cubic feet. Fold the back seats down and you get 61.4 cubic feet, with a continuous cargo floor (albeit with a slight step at the base of the seatbacks). There is one very important number, though: The liftover height itself is 23.6 inches; that's as low as that of a station wagon, yet you have the tall roof and high body in which to pack the cargo of your choice.
The CR-V wears its frugal nature on its sleeves--meaning that some might be a little bit disappointed with how basic and thrifty the interior feels. Hard-plastic trim and door materials aren't all that detail-oriented, while upholsteries all seem focused more on the diapers-and-spills set than on aesthetics.
Ride quality is impressive in the CR-V, with most road harshness filtered out--thanks to the last redesign's improvements in the body structure, door sealing, and noise insulation.