Best small vans for 2021
Vans are essential tools for many businesses – but it’s important to pick one that meets your needs.
After all, what’s the point in buying a massive, fuel-guzzling beast with a huge payload if you’re only transporting yourself and a few tools? Here are some of our favourite small vans.
In many cases, one of the many smaller vans on the market might be ideal. They're likely to cost less to run and have smaller engines, which could help you get a cheaper van insurance quote.
Their size also makes them perfect for nipping between jobs and finding somewhere to park in busy town centres.
Jump to a van model:
Citroen Berlingo van
The Berlingo van has won awards – 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 one or two 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.
Ford Transit Connect
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.
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.
Vauxhall Combo Cargo
There’s a lot to love about the Vauxhall Combo Cargo, which shares its platform with both the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner. 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 alert, speed sign recognition, driver drowsiness alert, and 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. For example, if you opt for the crew van option – in which 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.
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.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
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.
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.
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*All prices are correct at the time of writing and exclude VAT.