February 2023 new van sales revealed: who were the winners and the losers?

More new vans left showrooms in February than in the same month last year, despite sales of electric models falling. Here, we reveal the most popular choices...

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Alasdair Rodden
Updated07 March 2023

Mercedes Sprinter 2021 in front of building

The number of new vans sold in February grew by 8% compared with the same month last year, official figures have revealed.

In total, 17,540 new vans joined the roads over the course of the month – the result of supply chain shortages easing and back orders being filled.

Large vans were the most popular among UK buyers; 12,125 were sold, representing an increase of 14.0% compared with the previous February. Small van sales also increased by 5.2%, to 346, while sales of medium vans fell by 16.5%, to 3361.

Pick-ups and commercial SUVs both sold in greater numbers this February than last; 42.3% more pick-ups left showrooms last month than during February 2022, and sales of commercial SUVs almost doubled, from just 76 to 145.

Only 996 new electric vans were sold during February – a decrease of 44.5% compared with the same period in 2022. This may be because some prospective buyers held off on their purchase until new ‘23’ number plates came out on 1 March.

So, which models were the most popular with new van buyers in February? Below, we count down the UK’s top 10 best-sellers.


Volkswagen Transporter

The Transporter is a favourite among private buyers and small businesses alike because of its high resale values – and the resultant low leasing prices – and modest running costs.

Beyond that, it offers composed handling and brisk enough performance, even if you’re hauling the maximum payload. There’s even a sporty version (inspired by the VW Golf GTI hot hatch) that has more aggressive styling, a 201bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and lowered suspension.

Inside, the Transporter features a few luxury touches, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and pleasingly textured plastics, resulting in an interior which feels a cut above rivals'. The standard 6.5in infotainment screen is easy to get along with too.

February sales 634


  • Huge choice of variants
  • Modern safety aids and infotainment tech
  • Punchy and frugal 2.0 TDI 150 diesel


  • Basic entry-level model
  • Firm ride compared with some rivals
  • Top-end versions start to become very pricey

Renault Master

The Renault Master stands up to close scrutiny against the likes of the Ford Transit and Peugeot Boxer as a versatile and practical large van.

It’s available in both front- and rear-wheel drive layouts, its load capacity ranges from eight to 17 cubic metres, and the maximum payload exceeds 1500kg for some versions.

The Master has a settled ride (as long as you’ve got some weight in the back), and it’s impressively stable at motorway speeds, considering its size.

There’s only one engine option, a 2.3-litre diesel, but it comes in a variety of power outputs. The most powerful of these has 178bhp, and offers surprisingly punchy performance. If you’re after an electric van, the Renault Master E-Tech is the Master’s zero-emissions stablemate.

February sales 672


  • Huge amounts of storage
  • Great to drive
  • Strong engines


  • Poor automatic gearbox option
  • Big vans will have to be RWD

Ford Ranger

Although the rival Toyota Hilux is our top-rated choice if you're in the market for a work-first pick-up truck, the Ranger is a more well-rounded choice for everyday use. 

That comes as little surprise, because it’s both a capable load-lugger and a great family car. It rides comfortably and offers strong performance, plus the Double Cab version has plenty of room for four adults. That latter fact also makes it a good option for company car buyers who can take advantage of low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates for commercial vehicles.

A new Ranger – which shares many parts with the latest VW Amarok – is on the way.

February sales 852


  • Rides quite well for a pick-up
  • Gutsy diesel engines
  • Competitively priced


  • All engines are pretty noisy
  • Greatly reduced payload on Raptor version
  • Relatively short warranty

Mercedes Sprinter

Fittingly, given its name, one of the key attractions of the Sprinter is its range of punchy engines, and there’s a version to suit almost everyone. 

The 143bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is our preferred choice in the Sprinter, but if you'd rather go electric, there's also the Mercedes eSprinter, although that has a rather short official range (up to 95 miles).

The Sprinter shines when it comes to its interior; the materials used inside feel a cut above most rivals. The plastics, for example, are soft and textured, and the 10.3in infotainment touchscreen you get on high-end versions looks suitably premium and is, for the most part, easy to get along with.

February sales 872


  • Huge range of body styles
  • High-tech but user friendly infotainment
  • Improved fuel economy with front-wheel drive vans


  • Not the cheapest van to buy or run
  • Aggressive safety systems

Renault Trafic

The Trafic is a good option if you're looking to own your van, because of its low price, generous equipment and variety of engine options.

It comes with lots of safety kit, too, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance. Renault also lets you add adaptive cruise control as an option, which helps you keep pace with the ebb and flow of traffic, and eases the burden on the driver on longer journeys.

You'll find less space to store your odds and ends in the Trafic than you would in some rivals, however, and its infotainment system can be frustratingly slow to respond.

February sales 877


  • Choice of engines to suit most needs
  • Greatly improved safety systems
  • Quiet interior


  • More interior storage needed
  • Slow-witted infotainment system

Ford Transit Connect

Straddling the line between a van and a car is the Transit Connect, which is based on similar underpinnings to those of the Ford Focus family car. The result is that it's one of the best vans to drive, with assured, agile handling and one of the most comfortable rides in its class.

Ford gives you a choice of a range of petrol and diesel engines, our favourite being the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel. It's a peppy unit, but it's also the only choice available with a six-speed manual gearbox, which makes you feel more involved in the business of driving.

You also get a spacious interior and up to 967kg of payload capacity – more than many rivals can manage.

February sales 897


  • Great connected features
  • High weight carrying abilities
  • Excellent seating and interior


  • Steering controls require familiarisation
  • Sync 3 system prone to errors

Citroën Berlingo

The Citroën Berlingo is very closely related to the Vauxhall Combo and Peugeot Partner, but it’s hard to see where it fits into the family tree – it’s more expensive than the Vauxhall but misses out on the more interesting interior of the Peugeot.

Nevertheless, the Berlingo is still a very versatile small van; there are two wheelbase options to choose from, as well as a trio of diesel engines.

For those who plan to use their Berlingo around town, we’d recommend the BlueHDi 100 engine for its balance of power and fuel economy. However, drivers doing more motorway journeys will be better off with the more powerful BlueHDI 130 engine, with its six-speed manual gearbox (or optional eight-speed automatic).

February sales 960


  • Great safety features
  • Fun to drive


  • Limited interior storage
  • Only a five-speed gearbox on lower-powered vans
  • Limited equipment on entry level versions

Vauxhall Vivaro

One of the few vans to be built in the UK as well as sold here, the Vivaro is based on the same underpinnings as the Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.

Don't think that sharing parts with other models makes the Vivaro any less practical, though. In fact, its maximum payload of 1458kg is impressive in the medium vans market. 

There are the usual petrol and diesel engines to choose from in the Vivaro, but there's also a fully electric Vauxhall Vivaro-e with an official range of up to 205 miles, which could be more than enough if your business is based mainly in town.

February sales 1203


  • Wide choice of engines
  • Comfortable ride
  • Huge payload capabilities


  • Cramped interior
  • Changes to loadspace dimensions

Ford Transit

The Transit became an icon of British roads because of its car-like handling and high load capacity, and the current model retains those qualities. It’s manoeuvrable enough for tight spaces, and the entry-level 103bhp engine has enough power unless you’re using the full 2200kg load capacity.

There's a version of the Transit to meet most needs, with seven body weights, optional four-wheel drive and a Ford E-Transit electric version. The E-Transit has a long electric range and all the practicality you'd expect – it's so good that we named it as our 2023 What Car? Van of the Year.

February sales 1529


  • Economical with lower CO2 emissions than before
  • New connectivity features
  • Higher payloads


  • No covered storage
  • Base trim quite sparse

Ford Transit Custom

No matter your medium van needs, the chances are that Ford makes a version of the Transit Custom to suit you. Whether you're looking for petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or – coming soon – electric power, this a truly versatile van.

That versatility extends to the load space, too. The Transit Custom's maximum payload weight of up to 1459kg is higher than that of many other vans in its class, and the option to add a second side-loading door on most models means the space is easy to access.

The mid-range 128bhp diesel engine will officially return up to 40.9mpg, helped by some mild hybrid technology that helps the engine out with gentle electrical assistance.

February sales 2573

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  • Improved fuel economy
  • Class-leading productivity
  • Great ride and handling


  • Needs a better automatic gearbox
  • Loadspace protection could be of a better quality