For those who don't need to carry large loads, small vans are the ideal choice because they’re practical, cheaper to insure and run, perfect for nipping between jobs and easier to park in busy town centres.
Ideally, small vans should also be comfortable, easy to drive and rugged, yet still offer a decent amount of payload for those occasions when you need to carry that little bit extra.
There's a good choice from some big brands, including the Volkswagen Caddy and Citroen Berlingo, plus 100% electric vans such as the Renault Kangoo Z.E. and Nissan e-NV200 – perfect for the new Ultra Low Emissions Zones in London.
We've chosen 10 of the best small vans (in alphabetical order) on the market...
Awarded International Van of the Year (alongside the almost identical Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo Cargo), the new Citroen Berlingo is arguably the best all-rounder. Also crowned ‘Light Commercial Vehicle of the Year’ trophy at the What Van? Awards 2019, it's available with a choice of petrol, diesel or electric power.
Comfortable and well equipped, it's offered in two sizes – M (4.40m) and XL (4.75m) long. There are also two versions – the Extenso Cab for three people and the modular Crew Van, which can carry up to five passengers and long loads.
It may have slightly divisive looks, but the versatile Doblo Cargo has been dubbed the Tardis of the small van world. There are four versions – the Cargo Van (standard length), Cargo Maxi (longer), Cargo High Roof and Cargo XL, which combines extra length with a high roof. Competitively priced and with a good range of petrol and diesel engines and impressive load-carrying credentials, there are also four trim levels.
Here's What Car?’s verdict: "The Fiat Doblo Cargo has all the hallmarks of a quality small van. It drives well, can transport both volume and weight, but is let down by a tired and uninspiring interior." If you fancy something from Fiat, but smaller, then investigate the Fiorino.
The UK's biggest-selling small van, the Transit Connect is now in its second generation (2013-) and it was refreshed in 2018. Featuring Ford's excellent 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine and 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, it's more like driving a car than a van (it shares its running gear with the Focus hatchback).
Offered with standard and long wheelbases, the double cab version has a second row of seats and sliding side doors for improved access. If you want to stick with Ford and go even smaller, then there's the Ford Transit Courier.
Apart from the little Fiesta Sport Van, the agile Transit Courier is the smallest van in Ford’s commercial vehicle line-up. If you're based in an urban area, this compact, practical and economical van is hard to beat.
Available with Ford efficient 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel and 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines, it's well equipped and one of the most car-like vans in our selection to drive. If you want to stick with the Blue Oval, but go smaller, it's worth checking out the new Fiesta Sport Van for size.
The Citan is a product of the long-standing partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Renault. Based on the Renault Kangoo and built at the same factory in northern France, the Citan is, however, more than just a badge-engineered Kangoo.
Available in three body lengths (compact, long and extra-long), plus the Citan Crew Van and MPV-style Citan Tourer, it's a class act. As you'd expect from a vehicle sporting the three-pointed star, it has a premium feel and you can choose between a 1.2-litre (115hp) turbo petrol or 1.5-litre (90hp or 110hp) diesel engines.
Available as a Panel Van, Crew Van (complete with occasional seating in the rear) and Combi (seats up to seven people), the NV200 is a well-equipped, one-size-fits-all option. However, with impressive loadspace, wide-opening rear doors and one or two sliding side doors, loading is swift and easy.
Blessed with a five-year/100,000-mile warranty, it's powered by a 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine (90PS or 110PS). Or you can go green and opt for the 100% electric E-NV200 (pictured). Thanks to its new 40kWh battery, it can cover between 124 and 187 miles on a single charge with zero emissions, so perfect for those Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) cities.
The Peugeot Partner was crowned International Van of the Year 2019 (alongside its sister vans, the equally impressive Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo Cargo) by a jury of 25 journalists and publishers from independent magazines specialising in light commercial vehicles.
Available in two body lengths (4.40m and 4.75m) and as a panel or crew van, it's offered with Peugeot's innovative i-Cockpit digital dashboard and a 'Grip' version for extra traction when the going gets tough. Power comes from a range of efficient turbo diesel engines or you can go zero emissions and opt for the Partner Electric.
Available with diesel engines (three power outputs), plus an electric version, the evergreen Kangoo can be bought as a basic Van, longer Maxi Van or Maxi Crew Van. The 100% electric Kangoo Z.E. was the winner of the Green Award at the What Van? Awards 2018.
Here's What Car?’s verdict of the diesel-powered Kangoo: "The Renault Kangoo is a solid all-rounder that is doggedly competing with newer models thanks to generous specification and benchmark practicality."
Closely related to the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner, the Combo Cargo is available in two lengths and one roof height, and there’s a crew van too, while three trim levels are on offer.
Comfortable and refined, you can choose between petrol and diesel engines and there's plenty of kit, depending on specification level. Launched in 2018, it was crowned Van Fleet World Van of the Year and Small Van of the Year 2019 at the Great British Fleet Awards.
Voted Best Small Trades Van in the Business Van of the Year Awards 2018, the Volkswagen Caddy brings badge appeal, build quality, comfort, refinement and high residual values to the small vans sector. It's also safe because in 2017 Volkswagen became the first manufacturer to fit Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as standard to all its vans.
Choose from a Caddy or longer Caddy Maxi. If you need to carry more than one passenger, then there's the Caddy Maxi Kombi. Add to that a good selection of petrol and diesel engines, and the Caddy should be on every shortlist.
07 Feb 2019
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