Best small vans 2022

Nick Francis

13 Jan 2022

Vans are what keep this country moving even through these very difficult times - to quote the Ford Transit advert they are the “backbone of Britain.” But while the excellent Ford Transit might be the most popular van range in the UK it isn’t the only one on offer, especially when it comes to the small van market.

Ford Transit Connect

Pro: Siding side door makes loading and unloading easy

Con: Payload not as large as some rivals

Based on the Ford Focus, the Transit Connect drives superbly and can be optioned with the Sync 3 infotainment system, which is really rather good. A choice of three diesel and one petrol engines means there should be something to suit your needs, and if you go for the Sport model you’ll get some nice flourishes such as five spoke alloy wheels and a body kit.

Used Ford Transit deals on YesAuto: From £ 3,995 to £21,995

Ford Transit leasing deals on YesAuto : From £810.50 per month

Ford Transit full-review

Cargo space: from 2.6 cubic metres to 3.6 cubic metres

Load capacity: 680kg to 736kg

Fuel consumption: 48.7mpg to 62.8mpg

Volkswagen Caddy Cargo

Pro: Great to drive

Con: Payload not as large as some rivals

The Caddy Cargo offers Volkswagen’s famously solid build quality, which is exactly what you want from a workhorse. It also shares much of the tech found in the VW Golf, such as a brake assist system, cruise control and, optionally, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It’s a comfortable, reliable everyday van which shouldn’t let you down.

Used VW Caddy Cargo deals on YesAuto: from £3,495 to £20,999

VW Caddy Cargo leasing deals on YesAuto: £342.82

VW Caddy Cargo full-review

Cargo space: 3.1 cubic metres to 3.7 cubic metres (caddy cargo maxi)

Load capacity: 662kg to 700 kg

Fuel consumption: 55.4 to 57.6mpg

Ford Fiesta Van

Pro: Cheap to run

Con: Glass back window vulnerable when fully-loaded

It might be based on Ford’s popular city car, but the van model of the Fiesta boasts 960 litres of load space and a payload of 515kg. Powered by the same peppy 1-litre turbocharged EcoBoost as the Fiesta, it’s a fun and engaging drive. It also comes with pre-collision assist and pedestrian detection and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Used Ford Fiesta Van deals on YesAuto: from £4,475 to £17,999

Used Ford Fiesta full-review

Cargo space: 0.96 cubic metres

Load capacity: 515kg (driver and passengers excluded)

Fuel consumption: 43.45mpg to 65.69mpg

Citroen Berlingo Van

Pro: Large payload rating

Con: Fiddly infotainment system

Citroen traces the Berlingo van’s heritage back to the 1928 C4 van, but the model of today has been loaded with useful tech for the working person. If you go for the Worker spec you’ll get grip control and hill decent assist and 30mm extra ground clearance, which are extremely useful for those who need to take a van onto muddy, boggy building sites. The cab comes with three seats and it offers up to 1,000kg payload.

Used Citroen Berlingo van deals on YesAuto: from £1,898 to £23,999

Citroen Berlingo van leasing deals on YesAuto: from £239

Citroen Berlingo van full-review

Cargo space: 3.3 cubic metres

Load capacity: 720kg to 1000kg

Fuel consumption: 36mpg to 57mpg

Vauxhall Combo

Pro: Reasonable price tag

Con: Fiddly infotainment system

The Vauxhall Combo shares most of its DNA with the Citroen Berlingo, so you can expect the same when it comes to payload. The Combo features a neat little device which tells you via a sensor when you have reached the maximum weight in the load bed which will keep you safe from any nasty fines. The Combo boasts 15 storages compartments hidden cleverly around the cabin, which makes it an especially practical van.

Used Vauxhall Combo deals on YesAuto: from £3,495 to £10,832

Vauxhall Combo leasing deals on YesAuto: from £236

Cargo space: 3.3 to 4.4 cubic metres 

Load capacity: from 751kg to 803kg

Fuel consumption: 70.6mpg

Nissan e-NV200

Pro: Economy benefits of electric driving

Con: Limited range

Just like electric cars, electric vans are rising in popularity. For those who do most of their work locally and around town they offer great savings on fuel and tax and, of course, dodge any low emissions zone tolls. Sharing the same 40kWh battery and motor as the Nissan Leaf, the e-NV200 is good for 187 miles on a full charge, although you can probably expect that to go down with a full load. Still, it can handle 701kg which is only 50kg less than the diesel version.

Used Nissan e-NV200 deals on YesAuto: from £4,890 to £22,995

Cargo space: 4.2 cubic metres

Load capacity: 705kg

Fuel consumption: WLTP Range 124 miles to 187 miles 

Things to consider when buying a small van

Size matters: You should be sure a small van will cut the mustard when it comes to your work needs. It’s no good buying small if you really need something to move long pieces of timber and heavy machinery. Small vans suit sole traders who need a bit of space for things like tools, or short distance couriers who don’t carry a lot of cargo.

Petrol, diesel or electric? If you cover large mileages in a van then diesel will still be the most affordable option over the long run, but if you don’t need a long range from your wagon – and can access a charger at home or work – then an electric van could save you money in running costs. 

Is it just a work van? Many van buyers these days need their van to double as a family car, in which case you’ll want something which is nicer to drive, such as the Volkswagen Cargo Caddy, or something with a car-like interior, like the Ford Fiesta Van.

Small van FAQs

Q: What is the smallest van on sale?

A: The smallest vans are the one based on cars, which makes the Ford Fiesta van the smallest van you buy new, as it’s based on the Fiesta supermini. 

Q: What are the cheapest small vans to run?

A: The cheapest small vans to run are usually electric vans, such as the Nissan e-NV200, but you’ll pay more to buy one, and unless you can charge it regularly and don’t need it to do long journeys it won’t be practical. Diesel vans offer better economy, such as the Vauxhall Combo.

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Nick Francis

13 Jan 2022