Vans are essential tools for many businesses – but it’s important to pick one that meets your needs. They can also come in handy if you’ve a hobby that means driving a lot of kit around.
You might think bigger is better, but for many drivers a small van is a more convenient and cost-effective choice. Not only should it be cheaper to run but with a smaller engine your van insurance could be cheaper too.
Their size also makes them perfect for nipping between jobs and finding somewhere to park in busy town centres.
Here’s our guide to some of the best small vans for 2022.
What's the best small van for 2022?
Vauxhall Combo Cargo
- From £23,850
This year we’re singling out the Vauxhall Combo Cargo as the best small van for 2022.
There’s a lot to love about the Vauxhall Combo Cargo. As well as being available in two sizes, there’s also a crew cab version that can fit up to five people.
A maximum payload of up to 1,020 kg enables you to pack the van full of tools, while there are 15 storage compartments tucked around.
This makes it ideal for trades such as electricians who need to carry numerous plugs, sockets and wiring with them.
Popular additions include its Safety Pack, which features:
- Forward collision alerts
- Speed sign recognition
- Driver drowsiness alert
- Automatic emergency braking.
- There’s also the Flank Guard system that alerts you to obstacles such as barriers and pillars.
The Combo Cargo is also versatile. If you opt for the crew van option, you get two seats in the front and three in the second row. You can fold down the latter to enjoy a maximum load length of 3.44m.
The maximum load space height is 1243mm. In terms of payload, lighter models can take up to 670kg, rising to 1,020kg for the heavier versions.
Its fuel economy is between 37.5mpg and 55.4mpg.
Depending on the model, it’s likely to be in a van insurance group between 6 and 16.
Other best small vans for 2022
Citroen Berlingo van
- From 17,855*
The Berlingo van is an award winner. International Van of the Year and What Van? LCV of the Year are among the accolades received, and it’s easy to see why. It looks good, boasts a practical box-like body type and comes in a variety of forms.
For example, the Worker version has three seats in the front and a mobile office, while the Driver model is designed for those travelling long distances.
This hugely practical van is now in its third generation, having first arrived on the scene back in 1996. Since that time more than 1.5 million have rolled off production lines, which is a testament to its popularity.
Benefits include 1 or 2 sliding doors – useful for couriers - and an overload indicator available on some versions. This tells you if your payload has been exceeded. Also, the Loading Pack offers enhanced LED lighting and a 12V socket.
The Citreon Berlingo has a maximum load space height of 1243mm. Payloads vary between models. Lighter options can move between 650kg and 670kg, while heavier models can shift up to 1,010kg.
Its fuel economy is 36.8-45.8mpg on petrol models. For diesel engines it's 45.2mpg - 57.4mpg.
Ford Transit Connect
- From 16,730*
Yet another great looking van from Ford and one that has won plenty of plaudits from industry observers. The Transit Connect has had particular praise for its high weight carrying abilities, excellent seating and all-round good looks.
The Transit Connect, which replaced the Escort van back in 2002, comes in short and long wheelbase versions. This equates to a payload capacity that ranges from 579kg to 865kg – the upper end being ideal for tradespeople that carry plenty of equipment.
As with many modern smaller vans, it’s well equipped in the cabin. For example, you get the Ford SYNC 3 system providing a hands-free way to stay connected and control your phone, music and navigation. This can be used via voice command or a 6” colour touchscreen.
The Connect can also be equipped with other gadgets, including the FordPass Connect modem. This has Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices and real-time traffic updates delivered to your satnav system.
Ford Transit vans are known for their fuel economy. Expect between 58.9mpg and 67.3mpg, depending on whether you go for the more efficient Econetic or the non- Econetic van.
- From £23,305*
If sustainability and protecting the environment is important for you and your business, then the Nissan e-NV200 electric van might be a good option.
This van is 100% electric and its range of between 124 and 187 miles makes it ideal for florists and other sole traders making local journeys.
You could also benefit from various incentives for choosing an electric van. This includes the UK plug-in car grant that brings down the price of vehicles, as well as zero road tax and no congestion charge. If your business regularly takes you into London then this might be particularly attractive.
Of course, charging is important. Using a domestic plug should take about 21.5 hours, but this can be reduced to 7.5 hours via fast charge at the office.
Using a rapid charge on the move, meanwhile, charges from 20-80% in less than an hour.
Aside from the electric benefits, the van is attractive, while its shape maximises every available inch of space.
You can also choose between Visia, Acenta and Tekna versions, depending on if you want cruise control, speed limiters and automatic wipers.
If you’re interested in all-electric vans, check out our list of best electric vans available in the UK.
- From £17,855*
It’s one of the best-selling small vans in the UK – and this trend is expected to continue with the release of the third generation.
Millions of these vans have been sold over the past 20 years and the latest incarnation takes on board all the lessons learned.
Would-be owners can choose from four versions: the entry level S; Professional; Asphalt and Grip.
The latter, being top of the range, offers a host of extras such as an automatic electronic parking brake, a 220V socket, and a driver’s seat with a vast array of adjustments.
Different versions suit particular jobs. For example, if you’re on motorways for long distances then Asphalt could be an option, with its pivoting writing table, connectivity and driver assistance systems.
If you’re spending a lot of time on rough terrain then the underbody protection plate and increased ground clearance of the Grip could be beneficial.
If you’re transporting a number of people, take a look at the crew van. And if you’re carrying heavy loads then go for the Professional.
For the eco-conscious, there’s an all-electric version in the e-Partner that offers a range of up to 171 miles. This van is a bit more expensive than its diesel counterpart, starting from £27,910.
If you’re thinking of giving the electric model a go, it could also be worth considering a van finance package to fund your purchase.
If you need to squeeze a lot into your small van, this could be a good choice too with a maximum payload of 1,000kg. Max load height is 1236mm.
Average fuel economy is 6167 mpg.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
- From £16,725*
It might not be the most beautiful van on the market and it certainly doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves, but it’s definitely worth considering.
Coming in a range of body styles, the Doblo Cargo offers plenty of durability and versatility.
You can choose between a panelled van, versions with one or two sliding doors, as well as those with windows on the side and even in the roof.
Additionally, there are high-roofed versions and XL models to increase overall load space.
Of course, there are also plenty of accessories you can buy. For example, side ladder holders on the roof bars – ideal for window cleaners - as well as roof racks and a loading roller that makes it easier to attach bulky items.
Safety features included as standard include cruise control and a speed limiter, while the TPMS system continually monitors the tyre pressure and alerts you via the on-board display if any have gone down.
All Fiat Doblo Cargos promise a minimum fuel economy of 50 mpg.
Why buy a small van?
If space isn’t your priority it makes financial sense to invest in a small van.
You might find they’re more fuel efficient to run than larger models. And, as they’re likely to be in a lower van insurance group, your van insurance quote should be lower too.
That’s before all the practical considerations too - a small van is likely to be nippier and easier to park.
If you’re regularly stuffing your car to the rafters - with things rather than passengers - you may also find that a van is a convenient upgrade.
What are the disadvantages of buying a small van?
Small vans are generally cheaper than larger vans. However, that’s no help to you if a compact model is simply too small for your needs.
Think about how much you realistically need to carry in your van. Then carefully compare interior load spaces and payloads before making your decision.
If you’re contemplating a small van over a car, you may find that fuel economy isn’t as good. Other downsides to van driving are reduced visibility and crash protection when compared to cars.
Does a smaller van mean cheaper insurance?
Usually yes. Small vans are likely to have less powerful engines than bigger models, placing them into lower van insurance groups and making them cheaper to insure. The lighter a vehicle, the less damage it might cause in a collision. Heavier vans can also be harder to drive and trickier to control.
There are plenty of other factors that could affect the price of your van insurance, for example:
- Your age
- Your driving experience
- Where you live or work.
What else can I do to save on van insurance? It’s not all about size
If you’re thinking of getting a small van because you think it’ll help slash your van insurance costs, there are other steps you can take. These include:
- Ensuring your van security is top-notch
- Consider a black box telematics device
- Check what van class of use you have on your policy.
For more tips, check out our guide on how to save on van insurance.
*All prices are correct at the time of writing and exclude VAT.