Best vans for towing
How much your van can tow depends both on its towing capacity and the power it has available. Here, we tell you what you need to know before towing with your van, and name the best towing options...
When you absolutely need to get a job done, a van that can tow well is a brilliant tool to have in your arsenal.
Not only does a high towing capacity add to your van’s payload, it also enables you to haul specialist equipment that might not physically fit in the cargo bay.
That means you’re better prepared for any eventuality if your van’s good at towing. But which vans make the best tow vehicles? Well, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. You might want a van to tow a light trailer, but carry a heavy payload while it does so, or you might need a van that can do quite the reverse.
Whether you need a small van, a large van or something in between, here are the 10 vans we think make the best tow vehicles. Or if you're looking for the best tow cars, we've covered those separately.
Best large vans for towing
1. Iveco Daily
The Iveco Daily is a cut above the other vans here, and the reason for that becomes apparent the minute you peer underneath it. Do so, and you’ll see the whole van sits on a rugged ladder frame chassis – just like a truck. That makes this the sturdiest, strongest van out there – it’s even available with a monster seven-tonne gross vehicle weight (GVW), enabling it to carry a whopping payload of around 4000kg. Even the 3.5-tonne version has a braked trailer capacity of 3500kg, though, and given its gross train weight (GTW) of seven tonnes, that means you can load your van up to its maximum payload and tow a 3500kg braked trailer at the same time.
The only downside is that the Daily’s hefty chassis makes it a heavy van, and that means its payload is relatively small – so if you need a van that can tow while also carrying heavy loads, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
2. MAN TGE / Volkswagen Crafter
The MAN TGE and the Volkswagen Crafter are the same van with different badges on their noses, and they share similar specs. Not every version can tow 3500kg, but those that can get a whopping GTW of 8000kg, which means they can load up with a full-size trailer and still carry a significant proportion of their maximum payload.
We’re big fans of the Crafter’s smart interior and comfortable driving experience, not to mention its smooth and relatively efficient engine.
3. Mercedes Sprinter
As with the Crafter, only a select few versions of the Mercedes Sprinter can haul a full 3500kg, but those that can get a very useful GTW of 7000kg. This, combined with their GVW of 5000kg, means they can either tow a 2000kg trailer fully loaded, or a 3500kg trailer while retaining 793kg of payload.
The Sprinter’s expensive to buy, but it still comes with one of the swankiest interiors of any van – and posher versions come pretty well equipped.
4. Ford Transit
The big Ford Transit can be kitted out in similarly robust fashion to the Sprinter, with rear-wheel drive and a heavy duty chassis, though there’s only one model in the range that can do this, and it doesn’t come cheap. It’s also worth keeping in mind that while it can tow 3500kg, its GVW of only 4700kg means a relatively limited payload if you try to do so.
For all that, the Transit is one of the nicest of these big vans to drive, with great steering and responsive engines, so when you aren’t towing, it’s probably the one you’ll want to be in most of all.
Best medium vans for towing
5. Ford Transit Custom
The soon-to-be-replaced Transit Custom is still the best medium van for towing by dint of the fact that in its heaviest-duty form, it can tow as much as 2800kg. But buy with care – only a few versions come with this rating, and while several other models in the range can tow at 2500kg, some models have a very low towing rating – as little as 1500kg.
We're yet to drive the all-new Ford Transit Custom in the UK, but we do know that some versions will get the same maximum towing capacity as the current model. Therefore, we'd expect the new version to perform at least as well as its predecessor when it comes to hauling a trailer.
6. Volkswagen Transporter
You can’t tow quite as much with a Volkswagen Transporter as you can with a Transit Custom – the top-rated vans will haul 2500kg – but VW’s middle-weight contender is a much more consistent performer, with almost the entire range being able to tow at that weight, and the few models that can’t capable of pulling a still very respectable 2000kg.
So if you don’t absolutely need the maximum capacity of the Transit Custom, the Transporter might be a better fit. And don’t forget you get one of the nicest interiors of any mid-range van added into the bargain.
7. Citroën Dispatch / Fiat Scudo / Peugeot Expert / Toyota Proace / Vauxhall Vivaro
The Citroën Dispatch, Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and Vauxhall Vivaro are five badge-engineered vans which also top out at 2500kg towing capacity, though it’s worth noting that there are fewer models that can tow this much in their ranges – so you’ll have to be careful when you’re choosing.
But where all of these vans excel is that they’re lighter than the competition, with very similar GTWs, which means when you’re towing a heavy trailer, you can still use more of their payload. So while they might not ultimately be quite as well suited to towing as other mid-range vans, they make better tools for hauling while also carrying heavy cargo on board.
8. Ford E-Transit Custom
A special mention here for the upcoming Ford E-Transit Custom. We don’t know all the details of this van’s weights and capacities, but we do know that some variants are going to come with the ability to tow up to 2000kg, which is the most any electric van can haul.
That’ll make it an ideal companion if you want to go electric but still need to tow a trailer – though you might want to wait and see what effect that has on its range, something we’ll be sure to cover when we give it an in-depth road test.
Best small vans for towing
9. Volkswagen Caddy Cargo
Of course, it could be that you don’t want a big van, but you still want to tow a trailer. In that case, the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo has you covered. It’ll tow the most of any small van – up to 1500kg – though you’ll have to keep in mind that with such a trailer in tow, your payload drops to a fairly minuscule 687kg.
10. Citroën Berlingo Van / Fiat Doblo / Peugeot Partner / Toyota Proace City / Vauxhall Combo Cargo
The Citroën Berlingo Van, Fiat Doblo, Peugeot Partner, Toyota Proace City and Vauxhall Combo Cargo are worthy of a mention here, in spite of the fact that their maximum towing capacity is lower than that of the Caddy Cargo at just 1200kg. That’s because their low weight means they get a much better payload when towing at their maximum – 986kg, to be precise. So if you don’t need to tow a massive trailer, but do need to load your van up, one of these might be your perfect companion.
Read more: Best and worst medium vans >>
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