The humble van is relied upon by thousands of people each day to perform all sorts of functions. From builders to removal companies, delivery drivers and everything in between, vans provide flexible and practical transportation.

As a result of this varied market, there are plenty of van options. But which one should you take a look at? Here, we check out some of the best.

Reasons to buy a van

But why should you buy a van? The appeal of one lies in the variety of purposes it can be adapted to fit. There are all manner of load lengths and roof heights to choose from, while more recently electric powertrains have been implemented to power vans via battery power alone. 

You can also get tipper versions – which help when removing larger items or shifting rubble. The world of vans really is your oyster and if you’re after one, then there’s bound to be a van for you – particularly on the used market where there’s plenty of choice.

Read on to find out our pick of the best vans to drive.

1. Ford Transit

We can’t do this list without the Ford Transit, can we? Often seen as the go-to van, the Transit has provided practical transportation to the masses for decades. These days, the Transit is more car-like than ever with a high-quality interior and a variety of different powertrains. 

Plus, Ford recently added a new plug-in hybrid version of its mid-size Transit Custom, bringing lower running costs to this spacious van in the process. Combining a petrol engine with an electric motor and battery, the Transit plug-in hybrid can travel for up to 30 miles on electric power alone, making it a great option for those who are doing lots of smaller inner-city journeys. It’s just another option on top of a wide variety of Transit variants.

Best features:

One of the best aspects of the Transit is the variety of layouts there to choose from. There’s the conventional panel van, of course, alongside the cab version with glass sides. There are then 10 different lengths to choose from with two height options.

You’ve also got four specifications to pick from and there are a variety of more job-focused accessories available too, such as air conditioning units to keep the load area chilled.

Used prices from £1,000


2. Volkswagen Transporter

Volkswagen has fought at the top of the van market for some time now. But whereas models like the Ford Transit lean on all-around usability, the Transporter aims to bring a more car-like experience than any of its rivals. 

With a high-end interior and loads of technology, the Transporter feels a good deal more upmarket than many of the other options available today. However, it backs this up with a focused approach to practicality, while an efficient range of engines accompanies it too. Volkswagen has recently introduced a fully electric version too – the ABT e-Transporter – which, despite its small range, could be a good option for those who do shorter drives each day. However, for the vast majority of people, the diesels will remain the go-to choice owing to their good efficiency and refinement, as well as the robustness they bring.

Best features:

As we’ve already mentioned, the Transporter’s strength lies in how much like a car it is to drive. From the seating position to the steering wheel adjustability, everything is set up to make the driver feel as comfortable and at home as possible. Most of the more recent Transporter models also feature a 6.5-inch infotainment screen too, which incorporates all of the major media and navigation functions. 

It all combines to create an interior that is very familiar to the average motorist. For those making the transition from a car to a van, this is a really good addition.

Used prices from £4,000

3. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Mercedes is well known for its high-quality and luxurious passenger cars, but it also has a strong reputation for creating very reliable vans, too. The Sprinter is one of its most popular, sitting above the smaller Vito in the firm’s range. Much like others on this list, the Sprinter is easily adaptable to all manner of jobs but is also good to drive and comfortable too. 

The latest Sprinter models also benefit from MBUX – Mercedes’ latest infotainment setup. It takes many of the learnings made in the firm’s passenger cars and applies them to the Sprinter, ensuring that this system doesn’t just look great but is easy and intuitive to use, too. It really does help to elevate the look and feel of the Sprinter’s cabin while also providing more connected functions, all relayed via a high-resolution seven-inch touchscreen.

Best features:

The variety of trim levels and standard equipment available with the Sprinter is impressive. For instance, ‘Pure’ models benefit from the aforementioned MBUX operating system, as well as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for connecting your smartphone to the display seamlessly. 

Range-topping ‘Premium’ models, meanwhile, get a range of high-end features including comfort seats, a body-coloured grille and a full parking assistance package that brings an around-view camera and a range of sensors. 

Used prices from £3,000

4. Peugeot e-Boxer

Our first of the electric vans in this list, the Peugeot e-Boxer shows that EV power really does have a place in the van world. In fact, owing to its more than 130-mile range, the e-Boxer is a great alternative to a conventional petrol or diesel car and has very few drawbacks, too. Plus, because the e-Boxer emits no CO2, it is completely exempt from emissions charges and low-emissions zones, meaning it could be a great option for those companies or users trying to save money when driving in the city. 

Thanks to rapid charging capability, the e-Boxer’s battery levels can be taken from zero to 80 per cent in as little as an hour, meaning that there’s no need to wait around for a long time in order to get a full charge. Certainly, if you time these charges for when you’re likely to be stopped – such as when loading or unloading the van – they can prove incredibly cost-effective.

Best features:

Peugeot has offered the e-Boxer with two different battery choices – bringing ranges of either 73 or 139 miles. The former option could be ideal for those who are doing short inner-city trips, as it’ll take a lot less time to charge up.

The larger range will no doubt appeal to those who need to travel further afield though, as we’ve mentioned, its charge time is still more than respectable.

5. Citroën Relay

Citroen has made a considerable foray into the van world of late, with the Relay acting as one of the firm’s chief offerings. It’s available in four lengths and three heights – ensuring that there’s a version for everyone – while a payload of up to 1,870kg means that it’s more than up to the job in hand. Plus, Citroen recently added a new electric version – the e-Relay – giving buyers a battery-powered option should they fancy making the switch to an EV. 

A clever feature is the optional pneumatic suspension. When fitted to the Relay, it allows the van to drop the rear from 70mm to 60mm, making it easier to load larger items into the van. It’s a really clever touch and shows how focused Citroen has been on ease-of-use when it comes to the Relay.

Best features:

The Relay has been offered in some distinct trim levels which focuses it on different jobs. The Driver version, for example, is designed for people who are more likely to be in and around urban areas or between towns. Because of this, it gets a range of driver aids and assistance systems, while inside there’s a five-inch infotainment system with a full satellite navigation system. 

There’s also a Worker version, bringing added underbody protection for the engine and multi-season tyres, as well as Hill Descent Control which aids going down slippery slopes. 

Used prices from £4,000

6. Vauxhall Vivaro

Vauxhall’s Vivaro is a mid-size van with a wide range of features and highlights. Vauxhall has also designed the Vivaro from the off to drive like a car, which is why you’ll find many traits that you’d expect to find in one of the firm’s passenger models here. The exterior has some nicely upmarket touches too, such as chrome detailing around the headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels on certain models. 

Plus, as we’ve seen on other Group PSA models, the Vivaro is also offered with an electric powertrain in the Vivaro-e. With over 200 miles between charges, the Vivaro-e brings one of the best electric ranges around, meaning this isn’t an electric van limited only to use in the city. Certainly, if you’re a high-mileage van driver looking to cut back on fuel costs, this electric version could make a great deal of sense.  

Best features:

A clever aspect of the Vivaro is the optional Flexcargo system. This allows you to change the interior of the van to suit a variety of different needs. For instance, you can add space for two extra people with a passenger bench seat, or use a load-through bulkheld in order to carry longer items. 

You can even fold the outer seat in the front portion of the cabin to create some additional storage space. 

Used prices from £2,000

7. Volkswagen Caddy

Volkswagen’s compact Caddy has been a hit with buyers for some time now. It offers all of the same high-end functions that you get on the firm’s larger models such as the Transporter and Crafter but in a smaller package. For those who don’t need a large or medium-size van the Caddy will make a lot of sense, while its more compact proportions make it a great option for those who plan on using it in the city where space is at a premium. 

A new Caddy was introduced recently too, taking its underpinnings from the latest eighth-generation Golf. More technology-focused than ever, this latest Caddy brings a high-quality interior but doesn’t lose focus on why people opt for this model in the first place – its high level of practicality and flexible loading solutions.

Best features:

The Caddy’s strength lies in its versatility. Not only is it available as a panel van – in the Caddy Cargo – but you can get it as a people-carrying MPV. For those who want to travel and see more of the great outdoors in the Caddy, there’s the newly-introduced Caddy California, which incorporates many of the features we’ve seen on the larger California and Grand California into the Caddy’s smaller footprint. 

Used prices from £2,000

8. Renault Zoe van

Want to go a little outside the box with your next van choice? The Renault Zoe van could be the vehicle for you. Based on the standard Renault Zoe, this fully electric van does without the rear seats of the production car, freeing up one cubic metre’s worth of storage. But, because the powertrain has been kept the same, the Zoe van returns the same impressive range as the passenger car – up to 245 miles from a single charge. So not only could the Zoe van be a good option for those in town, but it could be a great choice for those who venture further afield too. 

The Zoe is also capable of charging at speeds of up to 50kW, meaning that a zero to 80 per cent charge can be achieved in 70 minutes. Opting for a slower 22kW charger will result in a full charge taking around three hours.

Best features:

Two trim levels are available with the Zoe van – Business and Business+. Both models, however, benefit from a strong level of standard equipment, including a 10-inch instrument cluster and a seven-inch central display with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Business+ builds on this with the inclusion of satellite navigation, parking sensors and a reversing camera. 

Used prices from £21,000

9. Nissan e-NV200

Continuing the electric theme we go to the Nissan e-NV200. It’s a compact van with an electric powertrain, capable of travelling for up to 124 miles on mixed roads, or up to 187 miles if you’re mainly moving around the city. Plus, rapid charging capability means that a 20 to 80 per cent charge can take as little as 40 minutes, while a full charge using a home wallbox will take seven and a half hours – short enough for overnight plug-ins at home. 

The e-NV200 offers plenty of load space, mind you, accessed via handy sliding doors. Plus, it can be configured to use a variety of different racks and loading options, or there’s a Combi version for those who would like more passenger space. This variety means that you can tailor the e-NV200 to your needs while still keeping that efficient electric powertrain.

Best features:

One of the best reasons to opt for an e-NV200 is the savings you’ll make. Compared with traditionally powered vans, the e-NV200 won’t require taxing, nor will you have to pay for London’s congestion charge or ULEZ. Plus, because it’s been priced competitively, it’s also eligible for the government’s plug-in grant which furthers the e-NV200’s ability to save you money. 

Used prices from £12,000

10. Fiat Talento

Fiat may not be the first manufacturer which springs to mind when it comes to vans, but with the Talento it’s one well worth considering. A medium-size van, the Talento van can be specified as a regular panel van, crew cab van or with a floor cab option. It’s got loads of features to check out inside, too, with a central touchscreen incorporating navigation, as well as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which make syncing your phone up to the display a breeze. 

You get a wide variety of engines to choose from too with all of them being efficient and clean. There’s also the option of either a manual or DCT transmission, the latter of which could prove to be a good option for those who do longer motorway journeys.

Best features:

One of the best aspects of the Talento is the way it looks. It stands out from the crowd with some classy chrome accents, as well as LED daytime running lights which give it a more futuristic appearance. You can also upgrade its appearance even further with a variety of styling packs, including extras such as black wing mirror covers, embossed black bumpers and a black upper grille. 

Used prices from £9,000

Back to articles August 19, 2021

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