- Impressive load-carrying ability
- Spacious cabin
- Pleasing fuel economy
- Uncomfortable ride
- Tiring motorway drive
- Noisy cabin
The Peugeot Boxer is a big old beast, but old is the operative word — it’s been around for 16 years, and it’s definitely showing its age. However, Peugeot has made choosing a Boxer a simple task, with just one engine (if you ignore the electric model) and one trim level on offer. Ok, Peugeot will tell you there’s a more powerful engine, but it’s only available in one specific van, and few people will go for it.
After multiple facelifts from its introduction, the Boxer looks reasonably fresh, with a neat, unexciting front end leading to an utterly conventional profile. In fairness, it’s all but identical to the Citroen Relay and Vauxhall Movano, but with a Peugeot lion badge in the centre of the bonnet.
It shares everything mechanically, too, with a 2.2-litre diesel engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox — there’s no automatic choice available.
Is there much to differentiate it from its more modern and varied rivals from Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen?
On The Road
While there is a 165hp version of the 2.2-litre diesel engine, few will order it. It’s the 140hp that will account for the lion’s share of sales, and that’s what we’re in today. Blessed with 340Nm of torque, performance is absolutely fine, especially when you’re running empty. The Boxer is a surprisingly light van — something that helps it achieve high payload levels — so it pulls away from the line with some eagerness.
As you load up the van, there’s less to talk about. Carrying a full load (or even the roughly half a tonne we had in the back) makes the van feel more lethargic.
That sensation continues on the road, where the Boxer trails its rivals by some margin. Lifeless and over-light steering makes the van meander around on the motorway, requiring constant concentration. Even with a full bulkhead and an unrefined engine, the continuous booming noise from the rear is far removed from being a relaxing experience. At least the ride was ok, if not exactly impressive, although it bucks and bounces around when empty.
It's better in town, where the volume is lowered, and the ride quality has more time to cope with surface imperfections. The light steering gets even lighter at low speeds, making manoeuvring easy, while the vast windscreen and large side windows create impressive visibility. The door mirrors help there, too, as they’re large and also have a separate wide-angle mirror underneath.
The driver and a pair of passengers are well looked after in the cabin, at least in terms of space. It’s a wide cab so that you won’t feel hemmed in too much. You’ll all find plenty of space for your oddments, with huge door pockets, a pair of glove boxes, lidded compartments on top of the dashboard, and a broad and deep shelf above. All told, there are 13 compartments for your day-to-day detritus, with much of it secure.
The design is less impressive, with a dashboard that, while it's been updated since 2006, isn’t the last word in modernity. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen sits in the centre — two inches larger than in the Citroen Relay — which houses the DAB radio, navigation and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Pleasingly, the climate control switches sit below the screen, allowing quick adjustment without moving your eyes from the road ahead.
Space & Practicality
You can specify a Peugeot Boxer in one of three body lengths, starting at L2 and rising to L4. The very short L1 was dropped a while ago, but it perseveres with three roof heights. Our L3H2 model is, by most standards, a huge van, but the Boxer range can go even further.
With 13m3 of cargo volume and a load length of up to 3,705mm, there’s not much that won’t fit in the back. Our van's payload limit of 1,495kg sits in the middle of the vehicle’s range, which runs from a low of 1,380kg to a high of 1,865kg.
Opt for the longer L4 model, and the load box length increases to 4,070mm, while the shorter L2 van can take loads up to 3,120mm long. Cargo volume ranges from 10 to 17m3.
The twin rear doors open to 180 degrees, and, if you spend another £400, can be optioned to swing right around to the side of the van, allowing for easy access to the load bay. A side door slides open on the van's passenger side, with an optional driver’s side opening available.
Officially, the Peugeot Boxer will manage up to 40.1 mpg. While the WLTP testing regime is a little generous in our experience, it isn't significantly behind that, making the van one of the more economical models on the market.
Service intervals are pleasingly large, although Peugeot does recommend an annual check-up for heavily used vehicles. Go gently, and you can run for 30,000 miles between services or up to two years.
While you won’t see your dealer very often, if something goes awry, you’ll get a year of 24/7 roadside assistance and three years or 100,000 miles of warranty cover.
Insurance should be relatively low, especially as Peugeot has been clever with some of the van’s design — the front bumper, left unpainted and presented in grey plastic, is built in sections. Should you nudge something solid, just one section of the bumper will likely need replacing, lowering repair bills.
Peugeot can’t hide just how dated the Boxer is. Compared to modern rivals, there’s little to be optimistic about. The van is noisy, uncomfortable and has an old-fashioned cabin. However, the cabin is a good size, and there’s plenty of equipment.
Where it does score well is where you need a van to perform well: it’s got a huge payload area and can carry heavy loads. It can do that while providing impressive fuel economy too.
That might be enough for a fleet manager, but it won’t keep the driver happy.