The best-selling vans of 2022
The number of new vans sold in the UK was down by a fifth in 2022, but sales of electric commercial vehicles bucked the trend and some models still sold in their thousands...
New van sales in the UK were down by a fifth in 2022 compared with the previous year, according to official figures.
The decline has been attributed to supply chain problems and the worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips – factors which have continued to impact the market since the Covid-19 pandemic and are expected to have an impact into next year.
The figures show that large vans were the most popular among buyers in 2022, with 208,728 leaving showrooms. They were followed by medium vans which accounted for 32,501 of vans sold last year, although their sales were down by 31% compared with 2021's figures.
Pick-up truck sales also dropped by 30.4% to 29,564, and small van sales fell by 56.1%, from 17,787 in 2021 to only 7805 in 2022.
Electric vans bucked the trend, though, with 16,774 sold – a 31.2% increase over 2021.
So, which models were the most popular with buyers of new vehicles in 2022? Below, we list the top 10 best-selling vans in the UK.
The Crafter remains a competitive option in the large vans class thanks to its huge carrying capacity and well-thought-out interior. The standard-fit infotainment screen has crisp graphics, is easy to read, and features physical shortcut buttons, making it easier to use when you're driving than touchscreen-only setups.
The model offers a wide choice of power outputs, but our favourite engine choice is the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which offers a good amount of low-down shove, which is useful when you're carrying a full load in the back. Speaking of loads, the Crafter is available in a wide range of lengths and heights – whatever you plan to carry around, the chances are that Volkswagen makes a version to fit your needs.
2022 sales 7455
- Quiet and comfortable
- Well thought out interior
- Huge carrying capacity
- Fairly dull on the inside
- Confusing size and height names
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.
Where the Trafic falls down next to rivals is inside – there's less space to store your odds and ends than you'll find in rivals, and although the infotainment system looks swish enough, it's also sluggish to respond.
2022 sales 8085
- Choice of engines to suit most needs
- Greatly improved safety systems
- Quiet interior
- More interior storage needed
- Slow-witted infotainment system
While the Expert shares many of its components, and even its engines, with the Citroën Dispatch, it vastly out-sells its French sibling. Key to its appeal is the comfort-first setup – the Expert is a very enjoyable van to drive, with a ride that's well controlled and gives you a greater connection to the road than its predecessor.
We recommend going for the mid-range BlueHDi 150 diesel engine, which returns up to 41.3mpg according to the official fuel-economy tests, yet also has enough low-down shove to get you and your load moving. The Expert has a best-in-class payload capacity of up to 1495kg on the 3.1-tonne van, and up to 1100kg for the lower-rated 2.6-tonne variant.
2022 sales 8131
- Comfort and handling
- Wide choice of engines and sizes
- Classy interior
- Poor visibility
- Needs bigger door mirrors
- Added safety comes at a price
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. That results in 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 is 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.
2022 sales 8218
- Great connected features
- High weight carrying abilities
- Excellent seating and interior
- Steering controls require familiarisation
- Sync 3 system prone to errors
The Transporter is a favourite among private buyers and small businesses because of its high resale values – and the resulting 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) with 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 some textures to its plastics, resulting in an interior which feels a cut above rivals. The standard 6.5in infotainment screen is easy to get along with too.
2022 sales 15,164
- 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
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. In fact, it's What Car?'s 2022 Pick-up of the Year.
That’s 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 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.
2022 sales 16,827
- 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
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 useful if your business is based mainly in town.
2022 sales 16,830
- Wide choice of engines
- Comfortable ride
- Huge payload capabilities
- Cramped interior
- Changes to loadspace dimensions
Fitting 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 fairly short official range (up to 95 miles).
The Sprinter shines when it comes to its interior, because 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.
2022 sales 17,034
- 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
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.
2022 sales 33,203
- Economical with lower CO2 emissions than before
- New connectivity features
- Higher payloads
- No covered storage
- Base trim quite sparse
No matter how you want your Transit Custom, the chances are that Ford makes a version 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. Its 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 out the engine with small amounts of electrical assistance.
2022 sales 42,215
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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
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