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The Best Small Vans on the Market

By Tim Barnes-Clay | March 13, 2023

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When we think of vans, we usually think of something like a traditional big Ford Transit, but not everyone needs something so large.

The Best Small Vans on the Market

Maybe you’re regularly delivering parcels. But, on the other hand, you may be running a business that only needs a few tools for the job. 

Or maybe you need a level of practicality that the average estate car can't match.

There are endless options available to you out there.

Here are some of the best – including some you probably won’t have thought of.

Mercedes-Benz Citan

Possibly a van you have yet to hear of, let alone seen on the road a lot, the Citan is arguably far more exclusive than any Mercedes-Benz saloon.

Offering 3,800 litres of loadspace and a payload of around 660kg, it comes in three sizes, various seating and styling options.

The van can be fitted with an automatic transmission which, combined with light steering, makes it easy to drive.

The interior quality isn't on par with a Mercedes C-Class, for example, but it's still a step up from the plastic-dominated interiors of most vans.

This Merc will satisfy those who want to laud it over others in the van world, although you’ll inevitably pay a premium because of the badge.

DFSK EC35

“The D’fuskee-what”? we hear you ask. This is a rare van that’ll likely be even more exclusive than the Mercedes.

It comes without a combustion engine. In its place, you'll find an electric motor and a 39kWh battery offering up to 166 miles of range, 4,800 litres of loadspace and a payload of just over 1,000kg.

It is not the nicest-looking van, but it'll be one of the cheapest to run as long as you can work around its limited range.

And, for those who want to do business with environmental concerns at the forefront of their mind, it's a decent option you might have yet to consider.

Dacia Duster Commercial

Is the Duster a van? Well, sort of. There is a commercial version of this popular SUV.

It looks like the car version of the Duster, and it drives like the car version of the Duster. But it has blanking panels instead of back windows and a van-like cargo area instead of back seats.

Offering up to 1,623 litres of loadspace, reduced if you opt for the four-wheel drive version, the Duster Commercial is a brilliant choice for those who only need a small capacity to do their job.

As a car, the Duster is one of the best-value SUVs you can buy. That reputation transfers to this sort-of-van version, too.

A payload of just over 500kg makes this a worthwhile option for those who can cope with a smaller capacity.

Toyota Corolla Commercial

So, you can rip the back seats out of any car, and suddenly, it's a van?

Well, not entirely, as the Corolla Commercial is a specific version of Toyota's estate car aimed at the van sector.

It offers a flat floor like any other van, a payload of 425kg and just under 1,330 litres of loadspace, but that may suffice if you don't need a massive amount of room.

Of course, because it’s identical to the car version in terms of its underpinnings, it drives like its car equivalent – and the interior offers lots of creature comforts, too.

What’s more, it’s a self-charging hybrid, meaning fuel bills will be cut without the need to plug it in. So, you won’t need to worry about the 'range anxiety' you might get if you opt for an all-electric van.

Fiat Fiorino

No, this isn't a nod to the famous Ferrari test track (that's Fiorano), but the Fiat Fiorino is suitable for those who want something on the small side.

It is very economical, offering a load space of up to 2,800 litres and a maximum payload of 610kg.

It has been quite a while since it’s been updated, though, and as a result, the Fiat looks a tad retro, especially on the inside, and it's not the most comfortable.

But as a relatively low-cost option for those who only need something small, this van still scores plenty of points.

Renault Kangoo

The Kangoo is a highly-rated small van which is well-equipped and offers plenty of comfort with a large interior.

It took a big step forwards after an overhaul in 2022, boasting a well-designed cabin and lots of creature comforts.

There is an all-electric version, too, with a 123PS motor and a 45kWh battery, offering a range of up to 186 miles, although petrol and diesels are available, too.

The Renault van offers a load space of up to 4,200 litres and a maximum payload of just under 990kg.

It is also based on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz Citan, which isn’t a bad sign at all.

Citroen Berlingo, Fiat Doblo Cargo, Peugeot Partner, Toyota Proace City & Vauxhall Combo Cargo

We have put these together because they're pretty much the same van with different badges.

Regardless of the marque, the van, in every guise, is attractive these days. It offers superb practicality and economy, thanks to a loadspace of up to 4,400 litres in the largest versions, plus a cargo capacity of just over 1,000kg.

It is available in different lengths and with numerous rear door options – and some brands also offer a pick-up truck version.

It is not the most awesome van to drive, and the interior is basic. Plus, the cabin might not be the most accommodating if you’re on the larger side. But it’s a great workhorse – and thanks to its huge capacity, you can do a much bigger job with it compared with most of its rivals.

It is worth comparing each model, though, as there are a few minor differences – the Toyota Proace City offers a staggering ten-year warranty, for example.

Volkswagen Caddy Cargo

If you want a van that drives like a car, then the Caddy Cargo is effectively a VW Golf with a big rear end.

It offers a loadspace of 3,700 litres and a payload of up to 700kg but comes with an interior that is far removed from what you'd expect in most vans.

The engines are well-refined, too, plus the van comes with a generous level of equipment that most competitors can’t match, including adaptive cruise control.

It is well-built, versatile and highly practical.

Various sizes are available, too, maximising the VW’s appeal to those at either end of the scale in terms of capacity.

Ford Transit Courier/Connect

If the VW Caddy Cargo appeals, the Ford Transit Courier and Connect may have something to say about that.

Make no mistake; this isn't the traditional big Transit we usually think of. The Courier and Connect versions are much smaller, based on the Fiesta.

Despite being one of the most compact vans on the market, it has a Tardis-like effect of seeming bigger on the inside, offering a considerable loadspace of up to 4,400 litres in the largest version, which has a payload of just over 830kg.

That makes it highly practical for something so small.

And, thanks to its smallness, it's fun to drive by van standards, and it boasts superb build quality, is well-equipped and superbly economical.

The Connect is slightly larger than the Courier, although the latter is cheaper. So no matter which one fits you best, it's our pick of the bunch.

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