By Tom Roberts
Large vans are the workhorses of the van world, the real heavyweights, capable of taking large loads the length of the country (or even further). But they’re not just used for carrying loads, large vans can also be used as mobile workshops or maintenance vehicles, keeping industry moving and services running to our homes and workplaces. Van Expert Tom Roberts takes a look at the best large vans available in the UK today.
Large vans (up to 3500kgs GVM) can be driven by most holders of a full car licence and normally there is no requirement to have a goods vehicle operating licence or, unless towing, to have a tachograph fitted. This means that for most van users, operating a large van is similar to running a smaller vehicle. A large van can also be the basis for specialist conversions such as an access platform (cherry picker) or a passenger-carrying vehicle. Even most front-line ambulances are based on a standard large panel van.
So, whether it’s carrying up to 5 pallets, dozens of parcels, builders' materials or turning up at a farm to repair a broken down tractor, you can see why large vans are considered one of the most versatile vehicle types on UK roads. Let’s take a closer look at the best available.
Top 10 Large Vans
- Vauxhall Movano
- Ford Transit
- Volkswagen Crafter
- Maxus Deliver 9
- Renault Master
- Citroen Relay
- Peugeot Boxer
- Fiat Ducato
- IVECO Daily
- Nissan Interstar
Proudly displaying the Vauxhall Griffin badge, the Movano is a real grafter and now it shares the same platform as other workhorses like the Citroen Relay. There are three body lengths and three roof heights to choose from, so whether your priority is loadspace volume or payload there’s a Movano for you. Even the largest L4H3 model (highest and longest) can still carry 1305kg! Although the Movano is only offered in a single trim level, Vauxhall has really blessed the van with some must-have equipment, including air conditioning, cruise control and satellite navigation as standard equipment!
What hasn’t already been said about the most iconic van on the market? The Transit just goes from strength to strength and is relied upon by thousands of small businesses and fleets alike to keep things moving. With that bold lozenge-shaped grille and the headlights forming an integral part at the front end, the Transit makes a statement as soon as you look at it. Ford offers the Transit in a choice of three body lengths, two roof heights and no less than five weights.
There are four trim levels, three diesel engines, a mild hybrid version and the new all-electric E-Transit (with its motor producing up to a colossal 269PS while offering an official range of 196 miles between charges). This really is a tremendous van.
The German manufacturer has a superb reputation for producing high-quality, reliable vehicles and the Crafter is no exception, possibly having the best build quality of all the large vans on the market - it’s probably one of the best looking too. Having won many industry awards over the years, the Crafter is a van to be reckoned with. You can order a Crafter in front, rear or even all-wheel drive, and with diesel engines producing up to 177PS, you’re not going to struggle to get your van up steep motorway inclines, even when it’s carrying its full payload of up to 1261 kgs.
The Crafter has a superb cab interior, and anyone familiar with Volkswagen cars will find themselves well and truly at home. The instrument panel is super clear and, when fitted with the centrally-mounted touchscreen, is a delight to use. There’s lots of in-cab storage too, something that anyone who drives a van for any amount of time knows the value of. This van should be on everyone’s shopping list.
View the latest Volkswagen Crafter lease deals.
Here’s a large van that, despite the manufacturer's name, shouldn't be confused with a vehicle from a previous era. The Deliver 9 and its all-electric sibling the eDeliver 9 offer few frills with the Chinese manufacturer prioritising functionality. The van offers payloads of up to 1240kg and with load volumes maxing out at just short of 13 cubic metres accessed by some big doors, those who need their van to work hard won’t be disappointed.
The 163PS diesel engine is up to almost all tasks demanded of it, and while the cab might not be as luxurious as some of the Deliver 9’s competitors, it’s practical and spacious. If you decide to opt for the all-electric version, you’ll be impressed by the official range between charges of up to 185 miles, and you won’t be left behind with a motor producing 201hp. There’s even a version that can carry 1200kg - an excellent capacity for a large electric van.
View the latest Maxus Deliver 9 leasing deals, or see how the Maxus compares against the Renault Master ZE.
Few heavy vans are as well established as the Renault Master. Hugely successful in its native France, the van has also gained a loyal following over here from tradespeople who not only recognise just how capable it is at carrying loads, but who have also become accustomed to a roomy and comfortable cab environment. If you drive a van daily, you’ll know how important storage in the cab is and Renault has excelled here. There are cup holders, trays, shelves and bins galore, together with a 7.6-litre glovebox.
In addition, in the higher trim model, the centre seat folds down to function as a desk with a swivelling laptop tray. There’s also a great range of engine choices, all based on the same 2.3-litre diesel unit with outputs ranging from 110hp to 180hp. The all-electric E-Tech Master is also worth a look, although its range between charges of 75 miles isn’t as far as some of the competition.
Every van has side wind assist, hill start assist, trailer swing assist and the ESC system has a handy tool called Grip Xtend, which can help at those times when surfaces leave a bit to be desired.
View the latest Renault Master leasing offers.
This van has ‘workhorse’ written all over it - the Relay doing just what it says on the tin. With payloads of up to a huge 1495kg, and a loadspace volume in the largest model up to a massive 17 cubic metres, this is a van that is designed to function rather than look pretty. Having said that, the very latest Citroen Relay is no ugly duckling, with the front grille looking quite bold and striking.
The Relay large van has one of the longest service intervals of any van, going for 32,000 miles or 2 years before any scheduled visit to the dealer is required, Also helping to keep running costs down is the 3-year / 100,000-mile warranty, and the 2.2-litre diesel engines are economical, with most models providing an official combined fuel consumption figure of 40.1mpg.
It’s no secret that the Boxer large van and the Citroen Relay are very similar. The Boxer shares most of the same great load-carrying attributes, in fact eclipsing the Citroen in the payload stakes with the L2H1 model offering 1570kgs of capacity. There’s now just a single trim level, the Professional Premium+ but it leaves very little out. You’ll get air conditioning, a 7-inch touchscreen (which includes a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity), satellite navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone functionality. There are also rear parking sensors and cruise control to add, making this a very well-equipped van indeed.
This is another large van bearing some similarities to others from the Stellantis stable, but Fiat has done a fabulous job in making their large van stand out from the crowd. With its huge FIAT logo in the centre of the new imposing grille incorporating distinctive LED daytime running lights, this van looks ace. Some of the best features of the Ducato can’t be seen from the outside, or even in the cab. The van achieves ‘Level 2’ in autonomous driving technology thanks to the 4 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems that are available - autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and traffic jam assist. These come together to make the Ducato one of the most technically-advanced vans on the road today. You’ll also get intelligent speed assist, crosswind assist, attention assist, autonomous post-collision braking and active park assist.
View the latest Fiat Ducato leasing deals.
The Iveco Daily has a great reputation as a workhorse, capable of taking on any task thrown at it with ease. It’s one of the most popular vans in Europe, with its users demanding 100% commitment and reliability from their working tool and getting it. The van has a unique ladder-style chassis frame to which the body is mounted, making it one of the toughest out there. If you want (possibly) THE heaviest large van on the market, the Iveco Daily could well be the one for you. It’s also one of the largest vans on the market, with load lengths of up to 5125mm, giving it a massive 19.6 cubic metres of load volume. The Daily is offered with a great range of engines too. Either 2.3-litre or 3.0-litre in size, they are available in outputs from 136hp right up to 210hp. If you multiply the various configurations of body, engine, drivetrain and trim, Iveco says that there are a possible 226 variants in total to choose from, so it’s unlikely that there won't be a van to suit your exact requirements!
View the latest IVECO Daily leasing deals.
Some manufacturers are reducing the number of trim levels offered on their large vans, but not Nissan, which provides a choice of four for the Interstar. Nissan’s large van, formally known as the NV400, is another competent load carrier, and there’s choice here with 10 different cargo volumes available - from 8 cubic metres right up to 17 cubic metres. If payload is more important, the L1H1 model can carry a huge 1600kg, close to the top of its class. Nissan has real confidence that the Interstar is up to the job, so much so that it provides a 5-year warranty (subject to a 100,000-mile limit) on every new van giving great peace of mind to the van operator and protecting them from unexpected repair bills.
View the latest Nissan Interstar lease deals.
Best Large Van FAQs
Are large vans reliable?
These days, large vans are extremely reliable. The warranty lengths that manufacturers offer on their large vans demonstrates their confidence that your new large van will be trouble-free for years. Find out more about the most reliable vans you can drive in our expert guide.
Are large vans economical to drive?
The latest Euro 6 diesel engines are efficient and economical. Many large vans will now return over 35 mpg in real-world use (often more). Check the manufacturer’s specifications for their official figures when comparing the fuel consumption of large vans**, **or read our picks of the best large vans by MPG.
Can I tow with a large van?
Virtually all diesel large vans can tow, but may be subject to tachograph regulations. Some large electric vans are not approved for towing - be sure to check the van’s specs. Find out everything you need to know about towing with a van in our comprehensive guide.
How much weight can large vans move?
Quite often the biggest vans carry a little less weight than smaller vans, because they weigh more to start with. As a guide, most large diesel-powered vans have a payload between 1100kg and 1500kg, with a few outside of this. Electric large vans carry less due to the weight of the battery pack.
What is the standard cargo space in a large van?
As large vans vary considerably in size, with many different body lengths and heights, there is no standard size. A typical large van is best illustrated by a Ford Transit L3H2 - it has a load volume of 11.5 cubic metres (front wheel drive model). However, an Iveco Daily can have a load volume of up to 19.6 cubic metres, showing that there is no one-size-fits-all large van. Take a look at our guide to vans with the biggest load space for more information.
What large vans are good for families?
A crew or double cab large van is excellent for a family. A second row of seats, while retaining a good-sized loadspace, means that these large vans are a truly versatile, dual-purpose vehicle.
Find more van head-to-head comparisons, reviews and news in our Vans blog, or check out our latest van leasing deals.