Best medium vans 2020

Medium vans need to do everything well, from carrying large loads to being comfortable to travel in. We run down the very best on sale today...

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What Car? team
26 Jan 2020 11:11

A mid-sized van is like the Swiss Army knife of the light commercial vehicle world. You’ll find them doing all manner of jobs, from moving household goods to food deliveries, and being used equally by builders or by couriers.

The best medium vans need to offer all the practicalities of a large van, but with some of the more refined features that are expected in the smaller van market. These LCVs strike a balance between comfort and storage, while delivering the goods with high payloads and large load volumes.

Medium vans also double as passenger vehicles, with many having several minibus variants or even luxury people-mover models to their name.

However, this top-five list concentrates on the working end of the spectrum – although we have listed the co-developed vans together, allowing you to weight up the pricing, warranty and other variations according to your personal priorities.


5. Mercedes Vito

Mercedes Vito front

When it comes to people-moving, the Mercedes-Benz Vito (and its V-Class twin) has been leading the field for many years, but in the commercial vehicle sector it's falling down the pecking order. While the Mercedes badge does still count for a lot, its high purchase price means that many buyers look elsewhere.

Now available with front-wheel-drive, the Vito is more versatile as a result and can compete for payload with other rivals. Its sharp handling, outstanding build quality and premium reputation also count for something.

However, overall the Vito is an otherwise fairly average medium van.

Read our full Mercedes Vito review


4. Nissan NV300, Renault Trafic, Fiat Talento

Nissan NV300 van on the road

Historically, jointly developed vehicles like Nv300, Renault Trafic and Fiat Talenta are often conceived with one party taking control of the project, the rest of the partners merely falling into line and adding their own grille and badges to the final product. And so it has proven with this trio, which was launched in 2014.

Renault led its development with the goal of building upon the success it had already enjoyed for more than 30 years with previous generations of Trafic. All that expertise inevitably resulted in a pretty impressive van, which now gets a much more reliable 2-litre single turbo engine, rather than the launch model’s 1.6-litre, which could be had with either single or twin turbos. A recently introduced dual-clutch transmission is another star attraction.

All three manufacturers offer the medium van in a range of generous trim levels, which means there should be a choice to suit all budgets and tastes –  canny shoppers should, of course, compare between all three to decide which offers the best value for their needs.

With a sharp new look, more safety, more comfort and more connected tech, Volkswagen’s icon is setting the new van standard

The Volkswagen Transporter has enjoyed a cult following since it first arrived more than 60 years ago. To this day it remains a highly desirable and attractive mid-sized van.

It’s 2-litre engine develops up to 196bhp and can be paired with an exceptionally good 7-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox. There are tonnes of sophisticated safety features, including lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking, and, while it doesn’t quite match some rivals for its overall carrying capacity ,it can move up to 1.2 tonnes.

Transporters also hold their value better than most other vans, so the total cost of ownership can be lower than that of some of its rivals.

Read our full Volkswagen Transporter review


2. Ford Transit Custom

Ford Transit Custom front

Britain’s best-selling van has dominated the sales charts since it was released in 2012.

The Ford Transit Custom not only drives brilliantly and is comfortable on the road, but is also available in a mid-boggling number of different permutations. It’s also the van with the biggest payload capacity – up to nearly 1.5 tonnes – and can carry larger volumes than most. Overall, it's the most versatile medium sized van on sale and, since getting an upgrade to Euro-6d engines, it is now far more fuel-efficient than its predecessors.

If you’re after maximum fuel efficiency, the MHEV version of the Transit Custom reduces consumption by a further 10%.

Read our full Ford Transit Custom review


1. Toyota Proace, Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert, Vauxhall Vivaro

Toyota Proace

While the Ford Transit Custom might sell in greater numbers than all four of these models combined, the Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and Vauxhall Vivaro provide ample competition in the medium van segment.

All four are powered by either a gutsy 1.5-litre diesel or a torquey 2-litre diesel engine, which overlap in their power outputs to give customers the greatest choice in choosing a van for their work requirements. If you plan to towing or work at close to the 1.5 tonne maximum payload of these vans, the 2-litre engine is really your best option, but the 1.5-litre can capably haul the van and its cargo about while returning a slightly better fuel economy.

Equipment levels are generous across all four brands, especially in the higher trim levels, where almost every conceivable gadget or safety system is included, and you’ll find the ride to be particularly comfortable once you’ve got a load in the back.

Automatically-opening side doors are these van’s greatest party trick, but its head-up display option is unique in this segment.

The biggest headache you face is likely to be deciding which one to buy. There's a wide variety of price, kit and warranty variations to weigh up, but you should be reassured that whichever you choose, you won't regret it.

Read our full Citroen Dispatch review

Read our full Peugeot Expert review

Read our full Toyota Proace review

Read our full Vauxhall Vivaro review


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