The eight best small vans
Buying a van is serious business, so we’ve rounded up the models that’ll serve you the best – practical, dependable and cost-effective
Small vans have to punch well above their weight – with their city-friendly footprints and easy driving dynamics they’re often on the go all day, everyday.
But small vans aren’t all created equal, and there’s a wide variety of models on the market today. There are petrol, diesel and even electric small vans – vans packed with sophisticated tech and basic vans aimed at those after the best value. Big small vans, small small vans, vans based on cars and SUVs or those built from the ground up. It’s no wonder things can get confusing.
We’ve taken the guesswork out of things and rounded up eight of the best small vans you can buy today. You can get further detail on our sister site, Parkers, where you’ll find detailed reviews of all the models mentioned here.
And, if you decide on a model you’re interested in, you’re already in the right place to get the best possible price for your van insurance right here on Mustard.co.uk.
The best small vans
Citroen Berlingo/Peugeot Partner/Toyota Proace City/Vauxhall Combo Cargo
Yes, it’s very confusing having the number one spot on this list occupied by FOUR vans, but there’s method to the madness. You see, van manufacturing is rife with what’s known as badge engineering – selling the same product under different brands. That’s why, despite these four models being available from four different manufacturers, they’re mechanically identical – and they’re all as good as each other.
Exceptionally practical with some of the largest payloads available (over 1,000kg in some models) they’re also very comfortable to drive thanks to refined and punchy engines and supple suspension. You can even get them with some really high-tech extras, like permanent rear-view cameras or payload overload sensors, as well as a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox ideal for city use.
Volkswagen Caddy Cargo
If you like your small van to feel a bit posh, the Caddy Cargo is an ideal option. It’s brand-new, and based on the same mechanical underpinnings as many of Volkswagen’s passenger cars – giving it access to the very latest engines and interior technology.
The high-tech cabin won’t hold universal appeal, but the powerful and efficient engines ought to. Despite a relatively low payload, the Caddy’s excellent driving manners and modern tech give it plenty of appeal.
Ford Transit Connect
When it comes to mid-sized vans, nothing beats a Transit – but the small van that wears the same name is very good too. The Transit Connect feels as nimble as any hatchback to drive, and comes in a huge array of trim levels from basic work van right up to lifestyle-oriented Active variants.
A reassuringly simple interior and good range of engines and gearbox broaden its appeal, and though the load area isn’t the most practical some models can carry almost 1,000kg of payload.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
There’s no denying the Doblo’s been around for a while, and it feels like it – step into the interior and you’ll be greeted by something that feels decidedly retro. But when it comes to practicality, the Doblo excels.
Combine the optional high roof with a chassis upgrade and the Doblo becomes a small van that can carry over 1,000kg with a 5.4 cubic metre load space – unrivalled among this class and easily stepping on the toes of larger vehicles. Fiat’s commercial vehicle arm also promises great service and dependable reliability.
Ford Fiesta Van
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t even notice this is a van. That’s because it more or less isn’t – this is a Fiesta with the rear seats replaced by a load area and bulkhead. Clearly, that impacts load space and payload – this isn’t a vehicle for those with big demands.
What it is is one of the market’s best superminis with a practical load area – it’s amazing fun to drive, beautifully-finished inside (for a van) and ideal for those who want a small van but don’t need acres of load space.
Renault Zoe Van
Like the Fiesta, the Renault Zoe is a CDV (car-derived van) – unlike the Fiesta, it’s based on an electric car. Well-proven as a passenger vehicle, the Zoe Van shows great promise as a commercial vehicle, again for those customers who want a practical small van but don’t need the last word in cubic capacity.
With a zero-emissions driving range of 245 miles, the Zoe Van is perfect for businesses that want to go green. It’s also fun to drive – quiet, responsive, and more than capable of city slicking or bashing motorways alike.
Dacia Duster Commercial
Bridging the gap between CDV and commercial 4×4, the Dacia Duster Commercial has plenty going for it. A staggeringly low starting price, for one – as you’d hope from Britain’s best-value brand. There’s also the cheap option of four-wheel drive, plus a boost in ground clearance and durability that gives it more off-road capacity than many small van drivers will need.
The Duster platform is great to drive considering how cheap it is, and there ought to be enough creature comforts available to make the Duster’s comparatively small load area and sub-500kg payload acceptable to most.
Ford Transit Courier
Like its bigger brother, the Connect, the Transit Courier feels a lot like a supermini to drive – only this time, it’s truly supermini-sized and is ideal for city routes where parking is at a premium.
Interior quality is high and there’s plenty of equipment available, while we like the zippy engine choices and range of trim levels.
Once you’ve decided which small van is best for you, you’ll need to get a few things in order – and one of the most important is insurance. At mustard.co.uk, you can compare insurance within minutes to help you find the cover you need. – so, whether you’re after courier insurance, or a policy for your minibus – our van insurance guides and we’ll help you find the protection you need.
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