Best large vans

Load space is not a problem for these large vans, which are as happy eating motorway miles as they are transporting titanic cargo

Apr 27, 2018

The large van is not something that is likely to appear on many car buyers’ wish lists, but for those with a particular set of automotive criteria, they are invaluable.

These giants of the road, which can typically handle a 3.5-tonne payload but often boast even higher capacities, are available in a dizzying array of body styles, engine offerings, cab styles and even bespoke modifications, making the buying process somewhat tricky.

As a result, the market has been tailored to a variety of needs, catering for the person that requires an XL 'tipper' to the customer that needs a refrigerated unit for moving tonnes of produce.

But many of the major manufacturers, including Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Vauxhall, have excellent offerings that make this buying process far easier, with a selection of modern vans that are comfortable, efficient and packed with latest tech to make everyday life easier.

Why buy a large van?

It's obvious really, because you have a lot of stuff to move around the country and you want to do it in an efficient, comfortable, and safe manner.

Perhaps more importantly is the fact that these large vans come offered in lots of different styles, which means there is a workhorse for every occasion.

Expect standard short wheelbase vans with a one-tonne payload capacity to be offered alongside long wheelbase, high roof variants that can carry large amounts of people and their kit.

Whichever way you look at it, the large van keeps the majority of countries, communities and economies running, offering the speed and versatility of a smaller van, with the added benefit of impressive load capacity.

These are the large vans that we think deserve a special mention.

 

Volkswagen Crafter

Best large van for uncompromising quality

List price From £30,611 Loadspace Up to 16,400 litres 
Payload Up to 2,562kg Fuel economy Up to 39.2mpg

Crafter by name, grafter by nature, this large commercial vehicle is packed to the rafters with Volkswagen technology, interior build quality and handy everyday features.

Expect an intelligent parking system, complete with electronic steering assist, front assist and emergency braking and the latest touchscreen infotainment systems to appear throughout the range.

Volkswagen's new ergoComfort suspension seats feature a specific design with 20-way seat adjustment to reduce the impact of any jolts and improve spinal health.

Choice of engine is limited to a single 2.0-litre TDI unit that is offered in 102hp, 140hp or 177hp outputs but with a fuel economy figure of 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 189g/km of CO2, it makes for an affordable everyday proposition.

 

Iveco Daily

Best large van for solid construction

Manufacturer price From £21,545 Loadspace Up to 19,600 litres
Payload Up to 7,200kg Fuel economy Up to 34mpg

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted this entry in our Best Medium Vans article and that's simply because this versatile beast is offered in everything from a medium, one-tonne payload panel van to a huge long wheelbase version that can carry up to 7.2-tonnes of stuff.

It features a somewhat archaic body on chassis construction, rather than the unibody approach taken by rivals, which means it's arguably not the most comfortable or refined on the list but it is built tough.

Customers will be presented with vans, chassis cabs and crew cab body styles, while various lengths and heights are also on the table.

The engine range is equally broad, with a total of nine different options available, plus there's the option of CNG natural gas-powered models too.

Don't expect car like refinement from Iveco but if it's a big, tough-as-nails van you are looking for, you won't be disappointed.

 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Best large van for high mileage

Manufacturer price From £29,840 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 2,253kg Fuel economy Up to 35.3mpg

Three wheelbases, nine different body styles and three roof heights make the Sprinter one of the most capable and versatile vans currently on sale.

It also happens to be one of the most comfortable and absolutely rammed with premium technology and premium touches that Mercedes-Benz is famed for.

On top of this, the Sprinter boasts a range of reliable and powerful engines, which range from a four-cylinder CDI diesel engine with outputs of 112hp, 140hp and 163hp.

Alternatively, there's a range-topping 190hp V6 CDI diesel that ensures the large van lives up to its namesake.

These power plants might not be the most efficient on sale but they are designed to run for miles and miles with limited servicing and impressive reliability levels.

The list of available safety features is also impressive, with crosswind assist, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist and a front collision prevention system available across the range.

 

Fiat Ducato

Best large van for fuel economy

Manufacturer price From £23,470 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 2,200kg Fuel economy Up to 47.9mpg

What the Fiat Ducato lacks in refinement, interior quality and exterior looks, it more than makes up for it with an excellent range of engines and impressive cargo-carrying capacity.

The entry-level 115hp 2.0-litre engine returns up to 47.9mpg, while the more powerful 130hp and 150hp models offer 46.3mpg and 44.8mpg respectively.

These powerplants aren't the quietest or most refined around but they are all Euro6 compliant, so produce fewer harmful emissions and cost less to tax on an annual basis.

On top of this, the Ducato is offered in a broad array of lengths and heights, with the range itself often tricky to navigate thanks to its confusing naming strategy and sheer variety of versions, including minibus, dropside trucks, tippers and combi vans that split cargo capacity with extra seating for crew.

 

Renault Master

Best large van for all-wheel-drive

Manufacturer price From £31,085 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 2,254kg Fuel economy Up to 40.4mpg

Navigating the Renault Master brochure is akin to getting stuck into a Dan Brown novel, with so much choice and variety that it requires a few cups of tea and at least a pack of biscuits to get through.

It does mean the Master is one versatile puppy, with not only the option of many wheelbase lengths and cargo capacities but also the ability to specify it in all-wheel-drive for increased traction in adverse conditions.

Just one 2.3-litre dCi engine powers the range but it is available in three different outputs (145hp, 165hp and 170hp) and it offers similar performance and economy figures to its closest rivals (Fiat Ducato, Ford Transit and Nissan NV400).

The ride is smooth and the interior quality is impressive, with Renault offering some great infotainment, navigation and comfort packages across the range.

 

Nissan NV400

Best large van for low running costs

Manufacturer price From £21,790 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 2,254kg Fuel economy Up to 42.1mpg

The Nissan NV400 shares most of its parts with the previously mentioned Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano, as the three manufacturers work in partnership to create a largely similar van.

The big Nissan also shares much of its oily parts with the Renault, including the engine, but it is offered here in tunes of 110hp to 170hp, offering slightly more variety in the lower powered end of the market.

This 2.3-litre diesel engine is also offered in front or rear-wheel drive variants, the latter better suited to larger payloads and towing heavier items.

As well as its efficiency, Nissan's build quality means oil and filter changes are only required every 25,000 miles, or every two years, while parts and servicing tend to be cheaper than some rivals on this list.

 

Peugeot Boxer

Best large van for interior storage and practical touches

Manufacturer price From £27,777 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 1,900kg Fuel economy Up to 47.1mpg

This joint venture between Citroen (with its Relay) and Fiat (the Ducato) is very similar in terms of what it offers with regards to body styles, lengths, capacities and engine choice but it differs in the styling department - both outside and in.

The cabin, in particular, has been very well thought out, with plenty of stowage areas for bottles and cups, extra large door bins and storage space under the seats for kit.

All models receive DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB inputs along with electric heated door mirrors. Professional trim level sees cruise control, manual air conditioning and satellite navigation thrown into the mix.

It's a great package for the price, especially when you consider the very frugal diesel engine range, but we can't help thinking the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter are the more refined, stylish and technically capable offerings.

 

Vauxhall Movano

Best large van for choice

Manufacturer price From £25,523 Loadspace Up to 17,000 litres
Payload Up to 2,254kg Fuel economy Up to 47.1mpg

Essentially, there is a Vauxhall Movano for almost every occasion, business need and private owner requirement, with four body lengths and three roof heights available, automatic or manual transmissions, four different engines and the option of front and rear-wheel-drive.

Vauxhall also has a van for those that need to move people (enjoy up to 17 seats), those that require a combination of load space and up to nine seats, as well as rubble-movers that perhaps want a tipper or box side van for transporting materials.

The British marque's cabins are also excellent, with a good array of technology on offer and a build quality that makes the interiors of some cheaper rivals feel overtly plastic and scratchy.

A strong range of powerful diesel engines also makes the Movano a popular choice among professionals.

 

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