Vans with the best mpg

We've picked out some of the most economical vans you can get, including small, medium and large vans with the best mpg

Sam Naylor
Jul 31, 2021

If you need a van for work, one of the most important things to consider is how much it will cost to run. It’s a vital business expense for so many van drivers, but a van that costs a lot to run is going to cut into your bottom line.

That’s why you’re looking for the van with the best mpg - a model that can carry what you need, but that comes with an engine that uses as little fuel as possible to cut your fuel bills. In this article, we’ve brought together a range of options for you.

The main thing to be aware of with mpg figures is that they are tested using a process called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), under controlled conditions. It means you can compare how well each model does in that test, but in the real world, your results may be very different to the official figures.

If you drive in a lot of traffic, live in a hilly area or even drive on the motorway a lot then you could see big differences when it comes to the economy that’s claimed and the economy you get. You should also remember that ultimately, a few miles per gallon isn’t worth worrying about if the van itself doesn’t work for you.

That’s why we’ve included vans of different sizes in this list, with a few options from the small, medium and large categories. The vans we’ve picked also come with a recommendation from us - we’ve not included models that have very good mpg but aren’t that useful as vans, for example car-based models such as the Ford Fiesta Van and Dacia Duster Commercial.

Another aspect of mpg to be aware of is to do with plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and how they can offer very good fuel economy on short trips - provided you start with a charged battery - but are likely to be much less economical on longer journeys.

We’ve included them here, but when you consider their mpg figures in the hundreds, they can seem too good to be true - and probably are for some drivers. Okay, you can reach hundreds of miles per gallon if you charge the batteries regularly and only ever do short trips, predominantly travelling on electricity alone. However, once the engine is on, you’re going to see average to poor mpg because the conventional engine has to lug around the weight of the batteries with little assistance from the electric motor.

Vans with the highest mpg

PHEVs make sense when you have lots of short-range trips to do and you can charge up in between, whereas most of the other models on the list below are normal diesels that are the most economical choice for long trips and regular driving.

Note that because vans (and cars) are always being updated and changed, mpg figures are difficult to pin down - especially as older vans were tested under a different procedure, which is less realistic than the current setup. All you need to know is that the vans below are some of the most economical in their class.

1. Ford Transit Courier

Best small van for mpg

Efficiency 65.7mpg
Used deals Limited stock

If you want a van that is capable of over 60mpg, you’ll need to go for a small model with a diesel engine. The Ford Transit Courier is the smallest model in the Transit range, and thanks to its efficient engine and light weight, it’s capable of around 65mpg according to official figures.

The Transit Courier is a great all-round choice aside from its limited carrying capacity. If you don’t need a huge load space, you’ll be more than happy with the Ford’s enjoyable driving dynamics, comfortable ride, pleasant cabin design and decent level of tech.

It’s also affordable to buy, dependable and easy to park, so the Transit Courier isn’t just one of the most economical vans around, it’s also easy to recommend for businesses and even private buyers who only need two seats and a huge boot.

2. Mercedes Citan

Best small van for mpg

Efficiency 61.4mpg
Used deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £218*

The Mercedes Citan is another small van that’s capable of around 60mpg thanks to its light weight and frugal diesel engine. The 1.5-litre unit is shared with some Renault models including the Kangoo, but the Citan’s official fuel economy figure shows how efficient the engine is.

The Mercedes features an upmarket badge and a smart cabin, but as it’s based on the Kangoo, it’s not as upmarket as some of Mercedes’ other van models. It’s a basic small van and its fuel economy is its biggest selling point, as the Ford (above) is better to drive and more comfortable.

The Citan is available with multiple wheelbases and there’s also a passenger version, but as these larger and more complex configurations add weight, they tend to reduce the fuel economy. If you want the most economical model possible, go for the version that’s lightest.

3. Volkswagen Caddy Cargo

Best small van for mpg

Efficiency 57.6mpg
Used deals from £12,995
Monthly finance from £295*

The new Volkswagen Caddy Cargo is the newest van on this list, so there aren’t a huge number available second-hand just yet - but give it time and this impressive model will become more readily available and affordable.

Improvements to the new 2021 Caddy mean it’s capable of around 58mpg according to official tests, which is excellent considering it’s a size larger than the Citan and Transit Courier above. It’s based on the Volkswagen Golf, which means it’s upmarket too, with lots of modern tech inside.

There’s a petrol version available but it’s the 2.0-litre diesel that’s the most efficient version and the one to go for if you want high mpg figures. It uses clever technology to keep emissions low, although like many modern diesels you have to use AdBlue, so factor that into your running costs.

4. LEVC VN5

Best medium van for mpg

Efficiency 313.9mpg

The LEVC VN5 is an interesting choice for a small number of drivers. It’s a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that’s based on the new London taxi, but with the rear section converted to become a panel van.

It’s officially capable of 313.9mpg, which sounds incredible - but that figure is based on using electric power in most situations rather than the 1.5-litre petrol engine. If you plug in regularly and do predominantly short journeys, you could save a lot of money on fuel, but if you need to use petrol power more often then the LEVC won’t be nearly as economical as claimed.

It has an electric range of around 60 miles per charge, at which point you’ll be relying only on the petrol engine unless you stop to charge up. This means it works well for city-based firms doing short-range deliveries, but most drivers will be better off with a diesel van for longer trips.

5. Ford Transit Custom Hybrid

Best medium van for mpg

Efficiency 91.7mpg
Used deals from £13,450
Monthly finance from £295*

Maybe you’re coming around to the idea of a plug-in hybrid van, but LEVC’s effort isn’t going to cut it for you - what about the new Transit Connect PHEV? This van also uses a petrol engine and an electric motor, and has an electric range of around 33 miles.

It results in a claimed fuel economy figure of over 90mpg officially, although diesel variants of the Transit Custom are going to be better for most drivers. If it works for your usage pattern though - if you do lots of short journeys and have time to charge between them - a plug-in van like this could save you loads of money each year.

The Transit Custom is one of the best panel vans around, with versatile body options, a comfortable ride, lots of technology and good storage space. It’s one of the best-selling vans in the country for a good reason, although the PHEV model is a bit harder to find used at the moment.

6. Toyota Proace

Best medium van for mpg

Toyota Proace front three quarters view

Efficiency 53.5mpg
Used deals from £15,450
Monthly finance from £357*

Plug-in hybrid power isn't for everyone, and if you need a normal mid-size diesel panel van, the Toyota Proace is a good option. The lightest versions of this excellent van can manage over 53mpg in the official tests, and should be one of the most economical options in the real world as well.

The Proace has plenty else up its sleeve as well. As it’s a Toyota you’re likely to enjoy a great ownership experience, as surveys have suggested over the past years that owners are usually very happy with their Toyota dealers and servicing experiences.

Plus, the Proace is comfortable and easy to drive, with plenty of body variants to choose from and a pleasant, hard-wearing cabin. It’s bound to be reliable and the efficient diesel engines are punchy enough to make motorway driving relaxing too.

7. Fiat Ducato

Best large van for mpg

Efficiency 47.9mpg
Used deals from £19,161
Monthly finance from £450*

The Fiat Ducato is a very traditional van, with a boxy shape, low cost of entry and a massive load area. However, it’s also one of the most economical large vans out there, with some versions capable of around 48mpg, which is excellent for a large panel van.

The Ducato is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, pretty standard for this kind of van, but it’s smooth and punchy while also delivering the low running costs you really need. The Ducato does all the other basics right as well - it’s roomy inside and surprisingly quiet.

It’s not as good to drive as a Ford Transit but the fuel economy makes up for this, and the Ducato is available in lots of configurations to make it suit your needs. Heavier models won’t be able to match the headline economy figure, though, nor will the larger-engined 2.3-litre versions.

8. Peugeot Boxer

Best large van for mpg

Peugeot Boxer front three quarters view

Efficiency 47.1mpg
Used deals from £13,194
Monthly finance from £265*

The Peugeot Boxer uses the same chassis and engines as the Fiat Ducato above, so it’s not a surprise that it’s similarly economical. The Peugeot’s slight differences, mainly the equipment and styling changes, mean it’s marginally less efficient on paper.

However, in the real world we would expect the Boxer to be virtually identical to the Fiat if driven in the same way. The Boxer shares a lot of strengths with the Fiat too, including its smooth engine, quiet operation and roomy interior. There are lots of configuration options and the cabin feels durable and hard-wearing.

Okay, the cabin isn’t the most enjoyable place to spend time as a result, but it’s a dependable and hard-working vehicle that’s designed to stand up to a life of business use. There’s plenty of equipment available too, which means the Boxer is good value to purchase as well as being cheap to run.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
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
APR: 9.9%

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.

 

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Cheap seven-seater cars

  2. Cars with the best warranty

  3. Cars with leather seats