[ 7 min read ]
If you are wondering which van should you buy – then you have come to the right place – we are here to help.
With so many different commercial vehicles on the market, the variety might seem intimidating and deciding on the right one for your needs can be sometimes tricky.
Whether it is the price, the size, wheelbase or payload, there are a number of factors that come into play when making a decision. Depending on your trade or business, a van is likely to be one of your biggest investments and most important assets.
But there are a few important questions that you need to keep in mind before you get your search started.
Brand new or used van?
Firstly, you need to set yourself a budget. Some business vans on the market can have a high price tag and failing to set yourself a maximum price might mean that you spend out more than you can actually afford.
New vans are of course significantly more expensive than second-hand vans, but that does not mean you should rule them out as there are many advantages of getting a brand new vehicle.
Commercial vehicles are built to last - well, they are at least supposed to - and this means you should be able to get plenty of years of work out of any new van. This is important given you will likely place a great deal of usage on your van, including long drives up and down the motorway and/or heavy loads.
Do keep this in mind if you are considering a second-hand van. Whilst vans are sturdy and reliable, the chances are that a second-hand van has been put through its paces and in the end you may not be getting what you expect. The mileage may be an indication of how hard it has been worked, but you will also want to conduct a thorough inspection of any used van before committing to purchase one.
How big does your van need to be?
You will also need to decide on the size of the van you are after. If you are going to be moving heavy items, from furniture to plant machinery, then you will need a larger van with a higher payload capacity (the maximum weight a van can transport).
Similarly, if space is important then you will be after a high load capacity van, while a long wheelbase vehicle will be essential for the likes of scaffolders.
If however, you are only likely to be working on private jobs where tools and materials are minimal, a small or medium van should suffice your needs.
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Do I really need a van?
The final question you should ask yourself is ‘should I get a van?’
Wanting and needing a van are two different things, and knowing the difference could save you thousands of pounds to put towards your business priorities. If you are just starting out, consider using your existing vehicle for a longer period to see how it goes.
Once you have built a steady customer base and it becomes clear your current vehicle will no longer be fit for purpose, then go out and get yourself a commercial vehicle. Keep in mind that buying an expensive van before testing the water is risky as they are a huge investment - especially when you are just starting out - and like most vehicles, vans struggle to hold their value.
The best commercial vans on the market
Choosing the right van for your business is crucial and your specific needs will determine the ‘best’ van on the market. To help you make this decision, we present to you some of the best small, medium and large vans below.
Best Small Vans
Although small van sales have dipped in recent years (thanks mainly to the popular shift to medium-sized commercial vans), their fuel efficiency, lower prices and emissions footprint still make these some of the best business vehicles on the market.
For a long time, the Ford Transit Connect has been a firm favourite for small van drivers. Comfortable, good to drive and reasonably economical, it is no wonder the Transit Connect is ranked as one of the best small vans on the market. You will also get a reasonable price quality deal, with the likes of DAB radio, USB ports and AirCon as standard on newer models.
The first small van to offer a one-tonne payload, the Doblo Cargo still suffers from lingering doubts about its build quality and reliability. But realistically, this van offers excellent capacity for its size (depending on model) and boasts a better fuel efficiency (mpg ratio) than many of its competitors.
Certainly one of the better looking vans out there, the Caddy also boasts an interior far more modern and appealing than many of its equivalents. While all this means that the van tends to hold its value well, this is also reflected in cost and thereore expect to pay higher price tag for the Caddy both new and used.
Also worth taking a look:
Best Medium Vans
Medium-sized vans are now the most popular size of commercial vehicles in the UK. Big and sturdy enough to deal with all but the most specialist of trades, they offer a happy balance of space and performance.
The sixth instalment of what has always been a highly popular van with the self-employed - so popular in fact, that it has sold over 12 million units since the first Transporter was released. Efficient, practical and with a touchscreen display as standard, the T6 has won the Autoexpress.co.uk Van of the Year.
The best-selling commercial vehicle in the UK, the Custom is now something of an institution and it is not hard to see why - the Transit Custom is affordable (from purchase through to insurance and running costs) and drives well. You may want to push a bit further for a premium model – and get many more extras – still with a relatively small price tag.
You know what you are getting with a Mercedes van – build quality, exceptional safety and a driving experience better than most. You will get a lot of features as standard, but the Vito does sit at the higher end of the price spectrum. The lack of a high-roof model may also put some people off.
Also worth taking a look:
Best Big Vans
Most people who decide to buy a big van, "know" that they need a big van. Usually pricier than their mid-sized cousins, big vans offer a huge amount of variety, so you should be able to get a vehicle that suits your exact needs - whether that is a specific length, height, capacity, payload or wheelbase.
The original in the Transit series, this large Ford model offers unparalleled comfort on long drives. Admittedly you can find vans with better payload attributes but the Transit’s engine is still a major selling point if you are not after the best payload on the market.
Another long-time favourite with big van drivers in the UK, the Sprinter offers a premium feel and comes with a desireable 4x4 transmission on the smaller models. Sprinter drivers have come to expect a good level of onboard tech as standard, whilst offering a high driving position that gives a good view of the road.
The Ducato will not be everyone’s favourite large van, but it does have some huge selling points. Its payload is up there with any large van, and it is extremely fuel efficient - Fiat claim it will return over 47mpg on the combined cycle. For drivers wanting the best ride possible, the Ducato might not be top of your list, but the 3.5t van’s 1,655kg payload rating is mightily impressive.
Also worth taking a look:
Commercial vehicle leasing
Another option for those unsure about buying a business vehicle is to lease it. This can be a good option if you are struggling to find a big lump sum to buy a van upfront, as you can instead stage the rentals over a fixed-term contract. The maintenance costs can also be covered on the agreement by selecting a funder maintained contract, for an increased monthly rental it may be worth taking a Funder Maintained contract for extra peace of mind and lower overal maintenance costs.
If you are unsure, check out our guide on whether you should buy or lease your business van.
If you would like to proceed with leasing a new van straight away, we are happy to find you the best deal. Simply call us on 01424 863 456 today or use our contact us form enquiring on your specific needs and requirements.