The best small vans: 10 vans that prove tiny can be mighty

Efficient and easy to drive, but with plenty of space in the back, these are the best small vans on sale now

BuyaCar team
May 9, 2019

Small vans help keep big cities moving. And in what they lack in stature, they make up for in selection.

There’s plenty of choice, in varying sizes and specs. Small vans such as the Ford Transit Courier are great around town, but have the performance, space and payload should you need to venture farther afield.
 
Then there are the classic small vans like the Volkswagen CaddyVauxhall Combo, and Mercedes Citan, which come in different heights and sizes. And there are even small electric vans too, like the Renault Kangoo Z.E.

If you need something a bit bigger, then check out our guide to the best medium vans, for some alternatives with larger loadspace.

Many of the vehicles below share some mechanical parts, but all have something slightly different to offer, and are available new and used.

Choosing the right van

The key figures to look for when looking at vans are loadspace and payload. The former being the area in the back for carrying cargo, the latter, the maximum weight of cargo you can carry.

In our list we’ve also included fuel economy. This will help you figure out your running costs. A word of warning though - these figures are from laboratory testing, so you might struggle to reach them in day to day driving.

Best small vans 

1) Vauxhall Combo

Best small van for choice

The last Vauxhall Combo was mechanically identical to the Fiat Doblo. Since that was made, Peugeot/Citroen has taken over Vauxhall, and the new Combo is based on the Citroen Berlingo/Peugeot Partner.

All three were deemed so good, that they have all jointly won several van of the year awards for 2019.

Payload is improved over the old model, so you can get a one tonne load in the rear. It comes in two lengths and one roof height, and there’s a crew van too. Three trim levels are on offer. Edition is the most basic, Sportive and LE Nav add niceties like body-coloured bumpers and an 8-inch touchscreen system.

Loadspace from 3,300 litres Payload from 1000 kg Range 62.8-67.3mpg

2) Ford Transit Courier

Best small van for young delivery drivers

Latest Ford Transit Courier deals from £6,350
Finance from £119 per month

The Transit Courier is the second smallest van in Ford’s commercial vehicle line-up, behind the Fiesta van. It can't claim to have the loadspace or payload of its larger Transit cousins (it has 2,300 litres and up to 660kg) but for urban-based businesses looking for a compact, practical and economical van that will be easy to sell on, it’s hard to beat.

The range goes from Base, a pared-down option for fleets, to eye-catching Sport for businesses that want to get noticed. There’s a passenger-carrying version called the Kombi, too.

Our favourite for affordability and all-round appeal is mid-spec Trend (it has useful extra storage and driver convenience features). A side door is standard across the range. The single petrol engine – Ford’s popular 1.0T Ecoboost 100PS – would suit a light user doing shorts runs but for heavier deliveries over longer distances, the 1.5 TDCi diesels are better. 

3) Volkswagen Caddy

Best small van for comfort and quietness

Latest Volkswagen Caddy deals from £5,995
Finance from £135 per month

You generally know what you’re getting when you buy a Volkswagen car, and it’s the same when you buy one of the company’s vans, which feel solid, sophisticated and well-designed. Outside, the Caddy looks much like a Volkswagen Golf that’s been converted into a van, and it’s a similar story inside, where a dashboard touchscreen with digital radio and Bluetooth for wireless phone connectivity, is standard.

Pick a petrol engine for the most car-like experience: the 1.4-litre has plenty of power and is extremely smooth if you choose the optional automatic gearbox. 

Add a few choices from the options list, and you can have a van that’s considerably better-equipped than a base-spec Mercedes Citan, with adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front, and a large sat-nav available. More importantly, it's available with in a version called the Caddy Maxi, which has a slightly larger cargo area and much bigger payload.

Loadspace 3,200-4,200 litres Payload 639-734kg Fuel economy 47.1-64.2mpg

4) Citroen Berlingo

Best small van for minimising downtime

Latest Citroen Berlingo deals from £10,995
Finance from £194 per month

The Berlingo is nigh-on identical to the Combo mentioned above. So it has its same top of the class payload ratings and length and height variations.

Unlike the Combo, the Berlingo has four (not three) trim levels to choose from. The X is the most basic, and is aimed at fleet buyers buying in bulk, with an eye on keeping costs down. Worker models get Citroen's Grip Control system. This adds hill descent control and switchable traction control for different surfaces, as well as mud and snow tyres. These models also get an additional 30mm of raised ground clearance.

Enterprise and Driver versions offer extra kit like cameras and large touchscreen entertainment systems.

Loadspace from 3,300 litres Payload from 1000 kg Range 62.8-67.3mpg

5) Peugeot Partner

Best small van for fancy seating

Latest Peugeot Partner deals from £11,495
Finance from £216 per month

Study the specs for this sister van to the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner, and you’ll learn there’s not much between the three.

The main difference between them is that the Partner offers Peugeot’s innovative i-Cockpit layout inside. This means the Partner gets a small steering wheel with dials above it. For some, this gives the added benefit of more room in the interior, plus a lovely little wheel that is nice to use. For others, it’s an ergonomic nightmare. Short people who like to sit low down, might not be able to see the dials, as the small steering is too tiny to clear the dashboard binnacle.

Still, great payload rating.

Loadspace from 3,300 litres Payload from 1000 kg Range 62.8-67.3mpg

6) Mercedes Citan

Best small van for a premium feel

Latest Mercedes Citan deals from £5,490
Finance from £128 per month

Buying a van with the Mercedes three-pointed star on the front does bring a bit more prestige - even in the world of vans. So you might decide to choose the the Citan (a conflation of ‘city’ and ‘van’) if you wanted to send the message of your business’ success.

As you’d expect with a Mercedes, it does have a little extra quality inside: the materials are just a cut above what you’d find in most vans, and feel more durable and hard-wearing. However, it’s far from the level of a Mercedes saloon car, such as the C-Class. The Citan is unquestionably a workhorse.

There are plenty of variants, with three different lengths – Compact, Long and Extra-Long – while there are also crew van options, with seating for up to five, a Sport trim with additional styling features such as alloy wheels, plus an optional automatic gearbox if you choose the petrol engine, which makes driving much more comfortable in stop-start traffic around town.

Loadspace 2,400-3,800 litres Payload 435-770kg Fuel economy 44.1-67.3mpg

7) Renault Kangoo Z.E

Best small van for an electric future

Latest Renault Kangoo deals from £5,250
Finance from £103 per month

An electric van might seem like an odd idea, given that most electric cars are made to be light and aerodynamic to boost their range between charges. But for city deliveries, it’s the perfect solution: exempt from emissions-based charges and cheap to charge up. It also benefits from a government grant giving up to a 20% discount off the purchase price.
 
If you’re zipping within a city, then the range of the Renault Kangoo ZE (it stands for Zero Emissions) is likely to be acceptable, especially if you’ve got somewhere to give it a partial recharge during a lunch break. Official European tests estimate that it can manage between 75 and 170 miles. Factor in up to 4,000 litres loadspace (for the larger Kangoo Maxi) and 625kg payload (standard Kangoo) and you have a useful green van option at your disposal.

There are two versions of the Kangoo Z.E: the cheapest requires you to hire the batteries from £33 a month, excluding VAT. Opt for the i Van, which is roughly £3,000 more expensive, and the batteries are included in the price. Diesel options are also available.

Loadspace 3,000-4,000 litres Payload 605-625kg Range NEDC 75-170 miles

8) Fiat Doblo Cargo

Best small van for all of the reasons

Latest Fiat Doblo deals from £4,690
Finance from £99 per month

The Fiat Doblo once shared mechanical components with the Vauxhall Combo. The Combo has since been replaced by a Peugeot/Citroen based model, leaving the Fiat Doblo Cargo to soldier on alone.

A job it's well equipped to do given its competitive pricing, good range of engines and impressive load-carrying capabilities.

The Doblo comes in a choice of two body lengths (4406mm and 4756mm), and standard and high roofs. The result is four versions called Cargo Van (standard length), Cargo Maxi (longer), Cargo High Roof and Cargo XL, which combines the extra length with the high roof. Payloads go as high as 1005kg. As if that weren’t enough choice, there are four trim levels.

Loadspace 3,400-5,000 litres Payload 750-1005kg Range 37.7-61.4mpg

9) Nissan NV200

Best small van for impressive carrying capacity for the price

Latest Nissan NV200 deals from £5,795
Finance from £137 per month

Nissan might not offer the range of lengths and carrying capacities of some rivals listed here but its excellent value NV200 boasts some brilliant interior packaging and a simple range of quiet, refined and efficient diesel engines.

Available in Panel Van, Crew Van (complete with occasional seating in the rear) and Combi (seats up to 7 people), there's an NV200 to suit most requirements, while similar trim levels to Nissan's range of passenger cars makes it easy to kit out the right van for your needs.

Top spec Tekna models benefit from 14-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a colour reversing camera but unfortunately modern navigation isn't on offer and a DAB radio conversion kit is an expensive optional extra. If you fancy an alternative to the Renault Kangoo ZE, there’s an electrically powered NV200 called the e-NV200.

Loadspace 4,200 litres Payload 714-728kg Fuel economy 56.5-57.6mpg

10) Fiat Fiorino

Best medium van for urban deliveries

Smaller than the Fiat Doblo, the Fiorino is a car-based van ideal for urban deliveries. Its big selling point is that it can out carry other car-based rival vans including the old Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsavan models. If you want to carry people rather than stuff, there’s a passenger-carrying Combi version, too.

Basic equipment levels help keep prices down but there’s nothing basic about the Fiorino’s diesel engines which are smart enough to return up to 72.4mpg (the Ecojet 1.3 Multijet Diesel 80). The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual but there’s an optional automatic that will take the stress out of urban driving.

The 2,500-litre load bay can be extended to 2,800 litres by folding down the passenger seat and swinging the bulkhead clear. A sliding door and offset rear doors are standard. Payload is up to 610kg, which is competitive with larger vans.

Loadspace 2,500 litres Payload 610-660kg Fuel economy 40.9-72.4mpg

                                     

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