Best medium vans

Haul cargo without eating up valuable space on the driveway with these manageable medium-sized vans

BuyaCar team
Feb 28, 2019

When we refer to medium-sized vans, we're not talking about size 9 skateboarding trainers. 

We are in fact, talking about vehicles to transport your goods and wares. Picking your van much depends on your usage, and there's a fair amount to consider. How much might you need to carry? How expensive is it to fuel, fix, and insure? Does it in the yard, and your driveway?

These are all questions that should be asked before committing to a new van purchase but luckily, the marketplace for medium-sized cargo carriers is fiercely contested and there's plenty of choice to suit most requirements, tastes and budgets.

New models from the likes of Fiat, PeugeotCitroen 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.

Why buy a medium van?

It might sound obvious but the medium van is smaller than its gargantuan siblings, meaning it offers a driving experience that isn't too far removed from a regular passenger car.

This makes them far more approachable, easier to wrangle around busy city streets, simpler to park and generally a more comfortable place to while away the long motorway miles.

Panel vans generally offer a rear load space up to around 10,000 litres depending on the length of the wheelbase, height of the roof and body style, while medium sized vans can also double-up as talented movers of people, with versions that offer seating for nine.

This category of van is also extremely popular with those looking to convert said workhorses into high-tech camper vans and other such leisure vehicles. The VW Transporter has become de rigueur for home-made camper vans because of its car-like nature.

This added popularity of medium vans means that used prices typically remain quite high when compared to the smaller and larger variants, but some bargains can still be found.

Best medium vans

1) Volkswagen Transporter

Best medium van for car-like comfort

Latest Volkswagen Transporter deals from £16,495
Finance from £378 per month

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.

Loadspace 5,800-9,300 litres Payload 692-1221kg Fuel economy 29.7-47.1mpg

2) Ford Transit Custom

Best medium van for array of choice

Latest Ford Transit Custom deals from £10,990
Finance from £222 per month

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 Euro6 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 on-board 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.

Loadspace 6,000-8,300 litres Payload 675-TBCkg Fuel economy 39.2-46.3mpg

3) Vauxhall Vivaro

Best medium van for body style variety

Previous-generation Vauxhall Vivaro deals from £9,495
Finance from £229 per month

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, where as 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, doublecab, and platform chassis on offer.

Loadspace 6,600 litres Payload Up to 1,400kg Fuel economy 40.9-47.0mpg

4) Toyota Proace

Best medium van for compact proportions

Latest Toyota Proace deals from £14,166
Finance from £334 per month

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.

Loadspace 4,600-6,100 litres Payload 1,000-1,487kg Fuel economy 51.4-53.3mpg

5) Nissan NV300

Best medium van for a long warranty 

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 the 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.

Payload 1,198-1,280kg Fuel economy 43.5-47.9mpg Loadspace 6,000-8,600 litres

6) Mercedes Vito

Best medium van for a refined driving experience

Latest Mercedes Vito deals from £13,194
Finance from £265 per month

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 recent 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 intelligent 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.

Loadspace 5,800-6,900 litres Payload 665-1145kg Fuel economy 44.1-47.1mpg

7) Renault Trafic

Best medium van for a variety of stylish exteriors

Latest Renault Trafic deals from £9,000
Finance from £185 per month

This Renault shares much of its underpinnings with the Vauxhall Vivaro, Nissan NV300 and Fiat Talento, but delivers plenty of passenger car creature comforts that make it worthy of your attention.

Intuitive sat nav systems, a rear-view parking 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.

Loadspace 5,200-8,900 litres Payload 1,075-1,280kg Fuel economy 40.9-47.2mpg

8) Fiat Talento

Best medium van for practical touches

Effectively a rebadged Renault Trafic, the Italian model offers some impressive interior specifications, striking exterior looks and one diesel engine in four states of tune.

It's not quite as flexible as the aforementioned Trafic (and rivals) in terms of load carrying capacity, although there is a choice of two wheelbase lengths and standard and high roofs. It also features an optional loading hatch in the bulkhead, which allows users to make the most of the full load length for lengthy items, such as pipes and poles.

Loadspace 5,200-8,600 litres Payload 1,074-1,249kg Fuel economy 40.9-47.9mpg

9) Peugeot Expert

Best medium van for fuel-efficient engines


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.

Loadspace 4,600-6,600 litres Payload 1,100-1,498kg Fuel economy 45.6-55.4mpg

10) Iveco Daily

Best medium van for huge loads

The Iveco Daily only just about competes in this medium-sized market, seeing as it is available in variants that can quite easily handle 7.2-tonne payloads and overall vehicle lengths that extend to a gargantuan 7.5 metres.

It is also not based on anything else, so really falls into a category of its own, especially when you consider the separate chassis and body, much like a heavy truck, which flies in the face of unibody rivals.

It's a tough cookie and the engine range is big and powerful, even if it isn't particularly good on fuel, while interiors certainly aren't as refined of premium feeling as those offered by VW and Mercedes. Aside from that, there isn’t another van out there that can match the Daily’s 7-tonne maximum gross vehicle weight, or its 19,600 litres of maximum load volume, so poor engine economy can be somewhat forgiven.

Loadspace 7,300-19,600 litres Payload Up to 7,200kg Fuel economy Up to 34 mpg


Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Unusual cars

  2. Narrowest cars

  3. Good estate cars