Sales of small panel vans have grown considerably over the past five years. This is largely down to their increased practicality and flexibility. Most manufacturers offer two load lengths on their small vans, and payloads on some newer models are well over a tonne.
During our search for the best small panel van, we considered reliability, running costs, payload, load volumes, driving impressions, power, and comfort. Here’s our pick of the best:
Just beating the Citroen Berlingo into the top five cut is the Renault Kangoo. It’s very affordable to buy and run, with cheap parts, a long warranty, and respectable fuel economy of up to 65.7mpg. Build quality has increased over recent years, although it is still behind most in the segment.
The Nissan NV200 is the only small van left on the market to be built using Japanese-style architecture (narrow track, short wheelbase, high roof), which means it has some unique advantages, including a much tighter turning circle, raised seating position, and high roof height for tall items. However, the refinement falls well short of the competition and the fuel economy is very poor (up to 56.7mpg).
Fiat Professional vehicles still suffer from poor perceived build quality due to the technical problems of yesteryear, which has resulted in disappointing residual values. Despite this, there is a lot to like about the Fiat Doblo, including a one tonne payload on long wheelbase models, wide opening rear doors, and powerful and fuel-efficient engines.
Ford Transit Connect
The Ford Transit Connect is a vast improvement on the outgoing model, and is the only model on this list that has had a major overhaul in the past seven years. It’s fun to drive, has the best fuel economy in the class (72mpg), and affordable parts through the respected Transit Centre network. However, it’s not perfect. Visibility isn’t great, it’s got a poor turning circle, and the bulkhead intrudes more than 20cm into the cargo area, and renders the side load door almost obsolete.
The Volkswagen Caddy is well worth the money if you’re looking for a practical and reliable work partner, despite it being expensive to buy and run. The Caddy is built tough and tops the charts when it comes to reliability, which in turn results in the sector’s best residual values. The Caddy is backed by the Van Centre network, which is Volkswagen’s dedicated light commercial vehicle dealer network.