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April 29, 2019 at 2:33 PM

The large van market has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the automotive industry. These big vans have increased in popularity because of the versatility they bring to the light commercial vehicle segment.

Available in a wide range of dimensions, wheelbases, payloads, body styles and bespoke modifications, there's a large workhorse to fulfil any business need or personal requirement.

Although they largely perform the same tasks, the large panel van market is crowded and can be confusing with certain manufacturers joining forces to share development costs.

Our guide serves to help you decide which of these big vans is best for your needs whether you're looking for load space, payload capacity or fuel economy.

6. Renault Master / Vauxhall Movano / Nissan NV400

vauxhall-movano-big-van-ambulance.jpg

Launched in 2010 and built on the same platform, the Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano entered the UK market. They were joined in 2011 by the Nissan NV400 and, although they're closely related, the NV400 is more limited to the smaller and less powerful models in the range.

These large vans come with a choice of four lengths and three heights as well as 6-, 9- and 17-seat crew and minibus variations available as standard. Panel van versions provide load areas starting at 7.8m³ reaching all the way up to 17m³.

The Master, Movano and NV400 are all powered by their own 2.3-litre Euro 6 diesel engine with five power outputs: 110hp, 130hp, 145hp, 165hp and 170hp. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard with front and rear wheel drive options available. Each brand also offers their own automatic gearbox with the 170hp output.

In the cabin, the interior is solid, robust and durable rather than being particularly stylish. There's a wide range of storage spaces and the potential to use the cab as a mobile office.

Body Style

Height

Width

Length

Load Volume

L1H1 FWD

2,307mm

2,070mm

5,048mm

7.8m³

L1H2 FWD

2,500mm

2,070mm

5,048mm

8.6m³

L2H2 FWD

2,500mm

2,070mm

5,548mm

10.8m³

L2H3 FWD

2,749mm

2,070mm

5,548mm

12.3m³

L3H2 FWD

2,488mm

2,070mm

6,198mm

13.0m³

L3H3 FWD

2,744mm

2,070mm

6,198mm

14.8m³

L3H2 RWD

2,527mm

2,070mm

6,198mm

12.4m³

L3H3 RWD

2,786mm

2,070mm

6,198mm

14.2m³

L4H2 RWD

2,557mm

2,070mm

6,848mm

14.9m³

L4H3 RWD

2.808mm

2,070mm

6,848mm

17.0m³

5. Iveco Daily

iveco-daily-big-van.jpg

The Iveco Daily is the only big panel van to be built using the older body on chassis construction method as opposed to the unibody approach used by all its contemporary rivals. This is largely because Iveco specialise in trucks, whereas every other manufacturer on this list produces cars.

As a result, the Daily is one of the toughest models on the market and is able to provide a class-beating 7-tonne maximum gross vehicle weight (if you passed your driving test after 1997, you will need to add higher categories to your license before you can drive any vehicle weighing more than 3,500kg).

This toughness is carried through to the interior making it a robust and practical environment. However, as you might expect, it lacks the comfort and finesse of some of its rivals that are closer to passenger vehicles.

The Daily large panel van is powered by a 2.3-litre or 3.0-litre diesel engine available with a choice of 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic gearboxes. The larger engine can even be modified to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

Wheelbase

Length

H1 (1,545mm)

H2 (1,900mm)

H3 (2,100mm)

 

 

LOAD VOLUME

3,000mm

5,040mm

7.3m³

 

 

3,520mm

5,560mm

9.0m³

10.8m³

 

5,960mm

 

12.0m³

13.4m³

4,100mm

7,130mm

 

16.0m³

18.0m³

7,500mm

 

17.5m³

19.6m³

4. Citroen Relay / Peugeot Boxer / Fiat Ducato

citroen-relay-big-vans.jpg

In terms of design, there is very little to separate these three large panel vans, except the specific design cues from the individual manufacturers. They have been developed together as a joint venture since 1981, gaining their current model names in 1993 when the second generations were released.

The Relay, Boxer and Ducato are the oldest big vans on this list with the third and most recent generations released in 2006. The French twins were updated in 2016 with a downsized 2.0-litre BlueHDi engine range to meet the new Euro 6 emissions regulations. In contrast, Fiat's Italian sister van also has a 2.0-litre diesel engine and a 2.3-litre variant that doesn't use AdBlue.

Much like the Master family of vans, the Relay, Boxer and Ducato are available in four lengths and three heights with a total of seven silhouettes to choose from with load areas reaching up to 17m³. They also boast the best-in-class load width that is able to comfortably store a Euro pallet in between the wheel arches.

The interiors all come well equipped with useful storage spaces throughout including large bins on the front doors, two gloveboxes and an overhead compartment.

Wheelbase

Height

Width

Length

Load Volume

L1H1

2,254mm

2,050mm

4,963mm

8.0m³

L2H1

2,254mm

2,050mm

5,413mm

10.0m³

L2H2

2,524mm

2,050mm

5,413mm

11.5m³

L3H2

2,524mm

2,050mm

5,998mm

13.0m³

L3H3

2,764mm

2,050mm

5,998mm

15.0m³

L4H2

2,524mm

2,050mm

6,363mm

15.0m³

L4H3

2,764mm

2,050mm

6,363mm

17.0m³

3. Ford Transit

ford-transit-big-van-network-rail.jpg

The Transit is the most recognisable model name in the light commercial vehicle market. Ford have gone so far as to attach the Transit brand to all of their panel vans - Transit Courier (small city van), Transit Connect (compact van) and Transit Custom (mid-sized van). All of them follow in the footsteps of the original, flagship Transit large van.

Available in three lengths and two heights, the Transit doesn't have the same variety or scale as some of its larger rivals, but ensures that all key bases are covered so it's always an option for every business.

When you take every possible configuration into account, including panel vans, crew cabs, minibuses, chassis cabs and tipper trucks, Ford has suggested that there are 450 different ways you can order a Transit van.

The biggest advantage that the Transit has over it's competitors is the unrivalled driving experience when you're behind the wheel. It's so car-like that you can forget the size of the vehicle that's behind the bulkhead, even on the larger models.

In 2016, the Transit benefitted from an updated range of 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines (in three power outputs) to be compliant with Euro 6 legislation which offers a 13% improvement in fuel economy over the old 2.2-litre variants.

Wheelbase

Height

Width

Length

Load Volume

L2H2

2,490mm

2,059mm

5,531mm

10.0m³

L2H3

2,781mm

2,059mm

5,531mm

11.2m³

L3H2

2,490mm

2,059mm

5,981mm

11.5m³

L3H3

2,781mm

2,059mm

5,981mm

13.0m³

L4H3

2,781mm

2,059mm

6,704mm

15.1m³

2. Mercedes Sprinter

mercedes-sprinter-big-van.jpg

The third generation Mercedes Sprinter launched in 2018 and built on the solid position already established by previous versions of this large van. Known for its heavy duty toughness, it's typically favoured by people clocking up high mileage every year.

Similar to many other vans in this list, the Sprinter has a maximum load area of 17m³ with a top limit payload of 3,175kg. There are four lengths, three heights, three wheelbases and nine body styles available as well as front and rear wheel drive options.

You can expect to receive plenty of power from the only big van engine range to include a V6. If you don't choose the 3.0-litre variant, there's three power outputs from the 2.1-litre four-cylinder unit: 95hp, 129hp and 163hp.

The Sprinter receives a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard with the option of a 7Gtronic automatic which is the same as the one offered in Mercedes passenger cars. Alternatively, the new 9Gtronic gearbox is available, but it's exclusive to FWD models.

In the cabin, there's a 7" touchscreen media system in the centre of the dashboard. Users also get access to the Mercedes PRO fleet management software which can be tailored to suit the needs of a sole trader or a fleet manager in charge of hundreds of vehicles.

The premium styling and famous badge can add a level of prestige and professionalism that other brands in this list simply can't.

Body Style

Height

Width

Length

Load Area

L1H1

2,365mm

2,020mm

5,267mm

7.8m³

L2H1

2,365mm

2,020mm

5,932mm

9.5m³

L2H2

2,620mm

2,020mm

5,932mm

11.0m³

L3H2

2,620mm

2,020mm

6,967mm

14.0m³

L3H3

2,831mm

2,020mm

6,967mm

15.5m³

L4H2

2,620mm

2,020mm

7,367mm

15.5m³

L4H3

2,831mm

2,020mm

7,367mm

17.0m³

1. Volkswagen Crafter

volkswagen-crafter-big-van.jpg

In 2016, Volkswagen decided to bring the manufacturing of their big panel van back in-house - previously the Crafter shared a platform with the Mercedes Sprinter. The all-new production facility in Poland launched the latest fourth generation model in 2017 with great success.

The multi award-winning Crafter large van is available with a maximum Gross Vehicle Weight of 5,500kg, load area of 18.4m³ and load height of 2,196mm. The range has been extended beyond the panel van - which offers three lengths and three heights - to include double cab models as well as dropsides and tippers.

Powered by Volkswagen's 2.0-litre BiTDI commercial vehicle engines, the Crafter is available with three power outputs: 102hp, 140hp and 177hp. With Start/Stop technology in place, fuel economy has increased by up to 15% from the previous version. You can choose between the 6-speed manual gearbox or the 8-speed automatic unit with FWD, RWD and 4WD options also available.

In a first for the big van sector, the Crafter is fitted with an electromechanical steering system that has enabled a range of additional safety technology to be fitted. Automatic post-collision braking and crosswind assist are fitted as standard while Lane Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control are optional extras.

The Crafter really excels in the cabin which is about as good as you'll find in a panel van. The materials are durable by necessity but retain build quality and a premium feel. There's plenty of storage throughout which helps to keep the driver's working environment clutter-free.

Body Style

Height

Width

Length

Load Area

L1H1

2,355mm

2,040mm

5,986mm

9.9m³

L1H2

2,590mm

2,040mm

5,986mm

10.7m³

L2H2

2,590mm

2,040mm

6,836mm

14.4m³

L2H3

2,798mm

2,040mm

6,836mm

16.1m³

L3H2

2,590mm

2,040mm

7,391mm

16.4m³

L3H3

2,798mm

2,040mm

7,391mm

18.4m³


Tags: large van big van panel van ford transit volkswagen crafter mercedes sprinter vauxhall movano renault master nissan nv400 citroen relay peugeot expert fiat ducato iveco daily
Category: Buying Guide