Reviewed for 2018
If you’re currently wondering what van you should buy, then we’re here to help. With so many different business vans on the market, deciding on the right one for your needs can be tricky.
Whether it’s price, size, wheelbase or mileage, there are a number of factors that come into play when making a decision. And depending on your trade or business, a van is likely to be one of your biggest investments and most important assets.
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But before you get your search started, there are a few important questions that you need to keep in mind.
Brand new or used van?
Firstly, set yourself a budget. The best business vans on the market can cost a small fortune, and failing to set yourself a maximum price could see you forking out more than you can afford.
New vans are, of course, significantly more expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should rule them out.
Commercial vehicles are built to last – well, they’re supposed to be – and this means you should be able to get plenty of years work out of any new van. And this is important given your van will likely take plenty of punishment, including long drives up and down the motorway.
Keep this in mind if you’re considering a second-hand van. Whilst vans are sturdy and reliable, the chances are it’s been put through its paces. The mileage may be an indication of how hard it’s been worked, but you’ll want to conduct a thorough inspection of any used van before making a purchase.
How big does your van need to be?
You’ll also need to decide on the size of van you’re after. If you’re going to be shifting heavy items, from furniture to plant machinery, then you’ll need a larger van with a high payload capacity (the maximum weight a van can transport).
Similarly, if space is important then you’ll be after a high capacity van, while a long wheelbase vehicle will be essential for the likes of scaffolders.
If, however, you’re only likely to be working on private jobs where tools and materials are minimal, a small or medium van should suffice.
Do I really need a van?
The final question you should ask yourself is ‘should I get a van?’
Wanting and needing a van are two different things, and knowing the difference could save you thousands of pounds. If you’re just starting out, consider using your existing vehicle for a period to see how it goes.
Once you’ve built a steady customer base and it becomes clear a car will no longer cut it, then go out and get yourself a commercial vehicle. Buying an expensive van before testing the water is risky, they’re a huge investment – especially when you’re just starting out – and like most vehicles, struggle to hold value.
The best commercial vans on the market
Choosing the right van for your business is crucial, and your specific needs will determine the ‘best’ van on the market. We’ve taken a look at some of the best small, medium and large vans below.
Best small van
Although small van sales have dipped in recent years (thanks mainly to the popular shift to medium-sized commercial vans), their fuel efficiency and lower prices still make these some of the best business vehicles on the market.
Ford Transit Connect
For a long time, the Ford Transit Connect has been a firm favourite for small van drivers. Comfortable, good to drive and reasonably economical, it’s no wonder the Transit Connect is ranked as one of the best small vans on the market. You’ll also get a reasonable bang for your buck, with the likes of DAB radio and USB ports as standard on newer models.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
The first small van to offer a one-tonne payload, the Doblo Cargo still suffers from lingering doubts about its build quality and reliability. But realistically, this van offers excellent capacity for its size (depending on model) and boasts a better mpg than many of its competitors.
Certainly one of the better looking vans out there, the Caddy also boasts an interior far more modern in feel than many of its equivalents. While all this means that the van tends to hold its value well, that’s also reflected in cost – expect to pay a small fortune for the Caddy both new and used.
Also worth a look:
Best medium van
Medium-sized vans are now the most popular size of commercial van in the UK. Big and sturdy enough to deal with all but the most specialist of trades, they offer a happy medium of space and performance.
Volkswagen Transporter T6
The sixth instalment of what has always been a highly popular van with the self-employed – so popular in fact, that it’s sold over 12 million units since the first Transporter was released. Efficient, practical and with a touchscreen display as standard, the van recently won the Autoexpress.co.uk Van of the Year.
Ford Transit Custom
The best-selling commercial vehicle in the UK, the Transit is now something of an institution. And it’s not hard to see why – the Transit is affordable (from purchase through to insurance and running costs) and drives well. You may want to push the boat out for a premium model, however, as the basic Custom is, well, basic.