Best vans 2023
Haul cargo without eating up valuable space on the driveway with these manageable vans
When we think about medium size vans, we're thinking about a class of vans that offer a good mix of capacity and drivability. If you need a van that's going to fit on your driveway, but still manage to carry a relatively substantial load, then something along these lines is likely to be extremely useful to you.
Examples of models that fit into this category include the likes of the Ford Transit Custom which was the best-selling van in Britain by a huge margin in 2021. Other options such as the Volkswagen Transporter and Vauxhall Vivaro also featured in the top ten most popular vans, so it's clear that this kind of van is widely sought after.
If you need a van that's capable of hauling loads of up to and perhaps even more than 1,000kg, then any of the models on this list are going to prove useful. In terms of load space, you can expect to see figures between 4,500 litres to 9,500 litres.
New models from the likes of Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen and Mercedes-Benz mean there's more choice than ever, while recently refreshed models from Ford, Volkswagen, Vauxhall, Nissan and Renault ensures the crop of medium-sized panel vans is more rounded and accomplished than it has ever been.
Best medium vans
Best medium van for car-like comfort
Used deals Limited stock Loadspace 5,800-9,300 litres
Fuel economy 29.7-47.1mpg
It takes a true warrior of the road to remain popular after 65 years of service, but the humble Transporter has been moving people and goods since the 1950s. Granted, it’s changed quite a lot in those years, and it’s now in its sixth generation. It comes in a range of Euro6 compliant petrol and diesel engines that offer an excellent spread of performance, economy and refinement too.
The latest seven-speed DSG automatic transmission is also worth a mention here, as its smooth-shifting nature makes it the perfect comfy companion to the relaxing driving position, brilliant entertainment systems and cosseting seats for those who have lots of miles to rack up.
It's expensive compared to rivals, but residual values remain impressively buoyant, so it is very unlikely buyers will lose vast sums when it comes time to sell up, while the extensive range of wheelbase lengths, body styles and interior configurations ensure there's a Transporter to suit most needs.
Best medium van for array of choice
Used deals Limited stock Loadspace 6,000-8,300 litres
Fuel economy 39.2-46.3mpg
The Ford Transit hardly needs any introduction, as it has been the go-to set of wheels for the majority of tradespeople for the last fifty years. As with the Volkswagen Transporter, the Transit has always offered an excellent blend of reliability, load-lugging abilities and an affordable price tag - a tradition that Ford is keen to continue.
Basic short wheelbase, low roof diesel models cost just under £21,000 from new, but return an excellent 46.3mpg. They also meet the new stringent Euro 6 emissions standards, making it cheaper to own in the long run.
But above all else, the Transit has lived long enough to know what its customers want, so offers practical solutions in the form of onboard plug sockets, stowage compartments, a glove box big enough to swallow a laptop, door bins that accept large water bottles and myriad of cup holders.
Best medium van for body style variety
Used deals Limited stock Loadspace 6,600 litres
Payload Up to 1,400kg
Fuel economy 40.9-47.0mpg
Vauxhall’s new Vivaro sits on a different chassis to the previous generation van. The old van was on the same chassis as the Renault Trafic, whereas this new one is on the same as the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.
It’s much improved, and is close to class-leading. It has three different trim levels, ranging from basic to quite-posh-for-a-van, and gets decent tech like blind-spot detection.
Two lengths are available (L1H1 4.95m and L2H1 5.30m), and there is a panel van, double-cab, and platform chassis on offer.
Best medium van for compact proportions
Used deals Limited stock Loadspace 4,600-6,100 litres
Fuel economy 51.4-53.3mpg
Admittedly, the Toyota Proace shares much of exterior and interior with the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, but we've plumped for the Japanese marque due to its lengthy 5-year warranty and excellent reputation for reliability.
The Proace is offered in three different lengths, but its smallest variants are great for those who perhaps don't need masses of load space, and instead would prefer something more compact and easier to drive. Its range of engines is excellent in terms of emissions and fuel economy but customers are limited to just diesel, which could put off those private buyers wanting to join the hordes of petrol converts.
Despite the excellent spread of lengths and body styles, the range of trim options is a bit restrictive, with Comfort line models being lavished with the greatest number of creature comforts, while Base models have to make do with 16-inch steel wheels and fairly basic exteriors.
Best medium van for a long warranty
Used deals Limited stock Payload 1,198-1,280kg
Fuel economy 43.5-47.9mpg
Loadspace 6,000-8,600 litres
Two different lengths and roof heights, one 1.6-litre diesel engine in four power outputs and three trim options – the Nissan NV300 aims to please as many users as possible. Just to be sure, it also comes with a long, five-year warranty, giving peace of mind to any fleet manager looking to control costs. On that subject, service intervals are only every two years or 25,000 miles.
On a practical level, the NV300 benefits from a bulkhead hatch that allows you to slide long objects through the van and under the passenger seat. For anything longer, one of the rear doors can be locked and the other left open to allow objects to extend out of the rear. An offside sliding door is optional on long-wheelbase versions.
The most economical engine is actually the second most powerful of the four: the twin-turbocharged 123bhp 1.6. It returns 47.9mpg. It’s pretty spritely although you do have to work the gearbox because it’s quite long-geared.
Best medium van for a refined driving experience
Mercedes has a reputation for injecting some premium touches into the light commercial vehicle sector, beginning with the excellent and extra-large Sprinter and continuing with the most recent Vito and X-Class pick-up truck.
To cut a long story short, the German marque offers the kind of interior technology, comfort and exterior good looks that its passenger car customers demand. That means heated front seats, an advanced touchscreen entertainment system, LED lighting and reversing camera technology are all available across the Vito range.
Better still, the latest model is also offered in front or rear-wheel drive variants, the choice of panel van, crew van and tourer body styles, as well as models optimised for urban driving, sportier variants and even specific models that are pre-prepared for a life as a taxi.
Best medium van for a variety of stylish exteriors
Intuitive sat-nav systems, a reversing camera that's integrated into the rear-view mirror and Grip Xtend for improved traction in adverse conditions are just a few technical highlights. Plus, optional equipment to turn the interior into a mobile office via tablet and smartphone holders, as well laptop storage, can be added for a reasonable fee.
Again, there's lots of roof height and body styles to choose from, as well as some fetching sporty models and eye-popping exterior paint hues that ensure the Trafic looks good on the road. Unfortunately, there is only the choice of one diesel engine. But it is available in four states of tune and is refined and efficient.
Best medium van for fuel-efficient engines
Used deals Limited stock Loadspace 4,600-6,600 litres
Fuel economy 45.6-55.4mpg
Peugeot's latest range of panel and crew vans is a vast improvement over the outgoing models, with a slick line of stylish machines that boast some of the latest interior technology, frugal engines and some excellent practical touches.
One such highlight is the Moduwork bench seat, which sees the passenger pew fold up to create a space with a flat bottom, as well a hands-free sliding side door that's activated by waggling a foot under the rear bumper.
Maximum interior space trails the category leaders by some margin but payload limits are impressive. The two diesel engines (1.6 and 2.0 litres, the former in two and the latter in three states of tune) offer a great spread of power outputs, fuel economies and the handy option of automatic or manual transmissions.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.