What van is best for me?

Amelia Scholey, Brand and Creative Manager, Tuesday, 16 March 2021
Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Buying a van is an investment that you want to get right. Reliability is essential to any commercial vehicle as you want to ensure the best performance in order to maintain the success of your business. But this is not the only factor you want to consider. We’ve taken a bunch of known reliable vans and looked at what would make them a good van for you.

There is a wide range of vans to choose from on the used-van market in the UK, so here’s a few of the best van brands that we think won’t let you down…

1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

This van has won many awards and we can see why. Since it was first launched 20 years ago, this van has just got better as new models keep coming out.

Its more up-to-date technology compared to rival models include connectivity and voice control, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping control with an infotainment system that comes as standard on the newer models.

The least powerful models come with a minimum of 111bhp, with the most powerful reaching 187bhp. Depending on the model you choose this vehicle can come in front, rear and 4 wheel drive. It’s an incredibly comfortable drive and sails around corners with lots of grip.

You can get a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from 2.6m in length to 4.7m in length depending on what you need. We’d also say that out of all the trim packages we think that the ‘comfort’ trim offers the more enjoyable drive, offering the best value for money.

The Interiors of the Sprinter resemble those you’d find in a car and not what you’d normally find in a commercial vehicle, which makes it feel like a much more luxurious place to spend your time.

Although the Sprinter is slightly more expensive than other similar vans on the market, it does have that extra edge. Offering you all the extra bits you are looking for, that you won’t find on many other vans.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van

2. Volkswagen Transporter

VW Transporter van

The VW Transporter comes with either a short or long wheelbase, and you can select from standard, medium or high roof heights depending on what you are looking for. With the maximum interior length sitting at 2.57m it’s important to make sure that its big enough for what you need to transport.

It has a 4-wheel drives system and depending on what engine you opt for it can offer between 89bhp – 148bhp, which should be plenty of power to get you where you need to be.

If you look inside the Transporter it offers clear lines, and a comfortable and safe drive. With Lumbar support and multiple seat adjustments, even the tallest of drivers will find a comfortable setting.

For your safety the Transporter has a voice command system so you can concentrate on driving, but also a touch screen infotainment system. With Front and rear parking sensors and cruise control as option depending on what trim you opted for.

This van feels precise to drive and really sticks to the corners offering you a smooth drive, even when you have a full load in the back.

3. Volkswagen Caddy

The Volkswagen Caddy is a smaller van, but is one of the best smaller vans on the market. As it’s smaller it also means its slightly cheaper which might make it a good option for you.

It has all the same safety features you would find in a VW Golf including automatic emergency breaking, although it’s known to not be as comfortable as other vans as the seats offer little flexibility. However depending on how long your average journey is in the van, this might not be an issue.

It even resembles a Golf when you look at the smart and sophisticated interior. There is plenty of space and storage in the cab for any odds and ends you might want to separate from the main load in the back. There’s also a great infotainment system with DAB radio and a touchscreen. 

The Caddy comes as either a 2 litre diesel or a petrol, either with a 5 gear manual or automatic gearbox. With all models working well with either gearbox, so the choice is yours, although if you are doing longer miles with a lighter load in built up areas then petrol will be best and cheapest for you.

VW Caddy van

4. Toyota Proace

Toyota Proace van

The Toyota Proace comes in either compact, medium, or long with interior lengths ranging from 2.2m – 2.9m. If you are looking for a high load van, then the Proace can also give you that. It can essentially offer something for everyone when it comes to variety of options.

Inside the Toyota Proace there is lots of room, and the interior feels clean and classy. The seats are adjustable and so is the steering wheel. This van has a generous spec as you get electric heated door mirrors, electric windows, cruise control, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity all as standard. If you find yourself with the next trim up, then you will also benefit from lumbar support and parking sensors.

It’s a great van to drive, with some saying it’s up there with the best in the market. It has direct steering and a strong grip of the road, meaning you feel safe and control at all times no matter your load.

Although the wing mirrors and windscreen are on the smaller side, the Proace at its higher trim levels offers one of the safest vans on the market. All in all, this van offers a comfortable, fun and safe drive.

5. Vauxhall Vivaro

For years the Vauxhall Vivaro has been made in Great Britain, although it’s very similar to French brands, the Citroen Dispatch and the Peugeot Expert as they are all owned by the PSA group.

The Vivaro is a great mid-size van with its exterior length ranging from 2.9m – 3.3m, it’s width reaching 1.92m and it’s height sitting at 1.91m. This van has a particularly great user friendly feature of being able to shut the side doors by foot motion if your hands are ever too full to close the door.

Depending on the engine size you opt for the Vivaro will range from 99bhp – 178bhp. It offers a smooth ride and is nice to drive with or without a heavy load in the back. You can opt for an automatic or manual gearbox, with the manual having 6 gears.

This van is not as comfortable as others, with the seats offering very little room for movement, making it a little uncomfortable for those longer journeys. It also offers a more limited visibility than its competitors as both the windscreen and side mirrors are smaller than you’d ideally want them to be.

The base model of the Vivaro does come with quite a few extras:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • DAB radio
  • Electric windows
  • Electric mirrors
  • Cruise control
  • Speed limiter
  • Steering mounted controls
  • Infotainment touch screen system.

All of this and more could make the Vivaro one of the better van brands to choose from.

Vauxhall Vivaro van

6. Renault Trafic

Renault Trafic van

The Renault Trafic is another firm favourite in the van community, and there are many reasons why. It’s exterior length ranges in size from 5m – 5.4m and can offer between 117bhp – 167bhp depending on the model you choose.

Renault have tried to make things easier for the owner by offering an easy to clean material throughout the back and a reinforced lock to secure your belongings with more ease.

Steering is precise and offers a comfortable and quiet ride with or without a heavy load. There is a 6 speed manual gearbox as standard, automatic gearboxes are available but these unfortunately may cost you a little bit more.

One thing that’s great about the Renault Trafic is that there is a wide angle mirror in the passenger sun visor which helps you to get out of those awkward junctions by offering better visibility.

Inside the cab there are hard wearing fabrics, with the inside of Renaults vans becoming more and more similar to what you would find in one of their cars. As standard you will find:

  • Electric windows
  • Electric heated door mirrors
  • Alarm
  • Immobiliser
  • Adjustable steering wheel
  • DAB radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Multifunctional infotainment system

Plus there is up to 90 litres of storage space in the cab area! Overall, this van might not be the most refined, but it offers a lot for the price, making it good value for money.

7. Ford Transit Custom

The Ford Transit is Britain’s bestselling van, and you can tell this by the fact that people now refer to a medium sized van as a ‘Transit van’.

A Ford Transit Custom comes with an interior length ranging from 2.6m– 2.9m, with a single side opening door just over 1m in width coming as standard. Some vans will have another door depending on if the spec is a little higher.

There are 4 different versions of a diesel engine which will offer 104bhp to 182bhp, making this van great to drive around town and on motorways.  It is weighty but offers just enough feedback to also make it fun to drive. If you are wanting to invest in a hybrid van for the future, then Ford also offer a mild hybrid option in the Transit Custom.

The basic trim is very basic, so if you can be picky with your trim, we’d say go for the ‘trend’, with this you will get:

  • DAB radio
  • Cruise control
  • Parking sensors
  • Alloy wheels
  • Aircon
  • Apple airplay

In the cab there are plenty of places to stash your odds and ends with split level door bins taking advantage of the doors as storage space. Most importantly, no matter your shape or size you will be able to find a comfortable driving position in the Ford Transit Custom with lumbar support and easily adjustable seats. 

In terms of keeping you safe whilst you drive, there are quite a few safety features that are definitely an added bonus; Ford collision prevention, rear blind spot assistance (Traffic Assist) and lane keeping system which are all extremely useful to have.

Overall this van is great to drive, and offers plenty of safety features with plenty of equipment and technology too.

Ford Transit Custom van

8. Volkswagen Crafter

VW Crafter side view

Th VW Crafter is Volkswagens biggest van both inside and out. You can get the Crafter in front, rear and 4-wheel drive depending on what you are looking for.

You can get 2 variations of this van, a standard long wheelbase or an even longer wheel base to enable you to carry more in your van. The L3 is the shorter out of the 2 with the L4 being the extremely long vehicle. The Crafter ranges from 3.5m – 4.9m in maximum load length with a sliding door on the side around 1.3m in width. Better still the rear doors are great for packing the van as they have 180 degree opening range.  

If you are looking for power, then the Crafter can offer you that. Depending on what model you get you are looking at 101bhp -174bhp. It feels just as easy to drive as the smaller Transporter which is great considering it’s quite a lot bigger. The steering is fast and responsive, and it offers a smooth comfortable ride, which only improves when there is a load in the back.

As standard there are functions such as driver assistance, driver attention monitoring and lane keeping assistance. If you go for the next trim up you can also find systems that help you to reverse and park an attached trailer.

It feels effortless to drive, with a 6 speed manual gearbox and 8 speed automatic gearbox, both are great considering the size of the vehicle.

There is a comfortable driving seat, lots of storage space for your little bits and pieces, an entertainment screen that is crisp and easy. All these things and more make the cab a nice space to be. Which is good considering this is somewhere you will inevitably spend a lot of time. 

You can also find a fully adjustable steering wheel, Bluetooth radio and a USB connection as standard. And depending on what model you choose you could also get:

  • Cruise control
  • Electric heated wing mirrors
  • Apple car play
  • Lumbar control and arm rests
  • Front and back parking sensors

If you are looking for a large van, then the Crafter is the best biggest van around. Plus it’s pleasant to drive, offers a great automatic gearbox and is comfortable and stylish.

No matter what van you decide on, we would always suggest taking a test drive before signing on the dotted line. If you’re unsure of what to check for on a test drive, you can check out our tips before you go.

If you’re interested in going hybrid or even electric, then check out our guide to hybrid and electric vans.

Amelia Scholey, Brand and Creative Manager
Bringing you information on how to look after your vehicle, save money and enjoy your life on the road.