By Tom Roberts
Small vans (also known as ‘light’ vans) are the smallest type of van on UK roads today - if you don’t count car-derived vans. Alongside medium vans, small vans make up the bulk of commercial vehicle traffic thanks to their ability to drive like cars and carry ever-increasing payloads. There is also a lot of choice in the small van marketplace, which is why Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts has pulled together the top 10 small vans available to lease today.
What Should I Consider When Choosing A Small Van?
Small vans make sense for a lot of trades that need to carry small dense materials and tools - I’m thinking electricians, decorators, cleaners, etc. Before the Stellantis small vans changed the game, small vans were instantly recognisable due to looking more like cars, and being physically far smaller on the outside than a typical medium van, such as the popular Ford Transit Custom.
Nowadays, the majority of small vans available on the market look like scaled-down medium vans and can carry payloads of 600-850kg (although there are some small vans that can carry more weight than medium vans). I don’t want to overdo this point, but the Stellantis small vans (Citroen Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo, Peugeot Partner and Fiat Scudo) really did change everything! They’re all available in electric-powered formats, they’re modern, packed with tech, highly durable, practical, powerful and efficient. They leave what went before in the dust!
And, of course, there are lots of benefits to leasing a new small van rather than a medium or large van, especially if you need to carry dense and small loads that don’t take up lots of space in the loadspace. They’re generally easier to drive and park, they’re usually highly economical to run and are easier to keep safe at home. There’s also less chance of your load moving around in the back of a small van, simply because a more compact loading bay limits the distance an object can move and makes securing a load an easier prospect (especially where bungee cords and straps are concerned).
Anyway, if you’re thinking about getting a new a small van, take a look through this list of what I consider to be the top 10 small vans on the market right now.
Top 10 Small Vans
- Citroen Berlingo
- Vauxhall Combo
- Volkswagen Caddy Cargo
- Renault Kangoo
- Peugeot Partner
- Ford Transit Custom
- Toyota Proace City
- Fiat Fiorino Cargo
- Ford Transit Courier
- Fiat Doblo Cargo
The current generation of the Citroen Berlingo is a firm favourite of tradespeople and it’s not hard to see why. The van is powered by a reliable range of BlueHDi diesel engines and a petrol engine option (a rarity in the small van sector) alongside a fully-electric model that provides an official range between charges of around 170 miles (one of the best available right now). There’s a choice of two body lengths available, and if you need payload the Berlingo small van can carry a hefty payload of up to 1009kg (depending on which model you choose). No wonder it won a raft of awards on launch!
The Vauxhall Combo is now fully updated in line with the other Stellantis brand small vans, offering fleets and small businesses the same level of practicality, reliability and economy it always has. It’s powered by 1.5-litre diesel engines with up to 130PS available (depending on the engine chosen), and the fully-electric Combo Electric (formerly the Combo-E) has a 136PS electric motor with an excellent 170-mile range (or thereabouts) on offer. There are now two new trim levels available with the Vauxhall Combo, and even the entry-level Combo Prime has air conditioning, cruise control and an 8-inch multimedia screen fitted as standard! Thank the maker for consolidated trim levels, eh?
VW Caddy Cargo
Now in its 5th generation, the VW Caddy Cargo keeps going from strength to strength, offering the build quality that Volkswagen customers expect. This latest version launched in 2021 has a new exterior, a redesigned cab interior, new engines, new suspension and plenty of modern tech. Even the entry-level Caddy Cargo has Automatic Post-Collision braking, Driver Alert, eCall emergency system, Front Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring, City Emergency Braking System, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution technology all included as standard. It’s a very convincing package wrapped up in a good-looking body.
The newest version of the Renault Kangoo is proving popular with those needing a new small van for their business. It’ll carry a payload of up to 987kg, depending on which of the two lengths you opt for, and with a choice of 95PS or 115PS diesel engines, together with a petrol or fully-electric Kangoo on offer, there’s surely a Renault Kangoo small van for every business. Renault has designed the Kangoo with the tradesperson in mind, a great example being the optional internal rack mounted at roof height, allowing long loads to be carried above the floor, right into the cabin above the drivers head. Personally, I think it’s the best execution of a genius idea on the small van market right now!
The Peugeot Partner small van has been a van of choice for thousands of small businesses over the years - Royal Mail included. With two body lengths, two diesel engines, a fully-electric model and four trim levels, there are no compromises to be made on the things that count. The ‘Grip Premium’ trim level, for example, comes with mud and snow tyres, underbody protection, increased ground clearance and grip control - it’s arguably the best package for those taking their small van onto more demanding terrain and surfaces. And it’s just one example of this small van’s versatility, and another reason why it’s a consistent favourite.
Ford Transit Connect
If you need a small van with a stalwart commercial vehicle manufacturer behind it, then you’ll probably have a look at the Ford Transit Connect. Ford’s blue oval badge has been responsible for some iconic vans and pickups over the last two decades, and the Transit Connect has this DNA deeply embedded within it. When deciding which Ford Transit Connect is right for you, you’ll have to choose from two lengths, various vehicle weights that can offer a maximum payload of up to 982kg (nearly a class leader), four engine options (including a petrol unit) and no less that six trim levels (including the stunning Sport and MS-RT versions). Its design hasn’t changed a lot over the past decade, because it hasn’t had to.
Toyota Proace City
The Toyota Proace City is similar to several other small vans available on the market, due to a commercial agreement with the Stellantis group. Although the loadspace and engines may be the same as the Citroen Berlingo (and the rest), Toyota has made the van its own by making the equipment levels in their trim grades unique. For example, the range-topping Proace Design comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers to make the exterior stand out, and in the cab there’s a full satellite navigation system. The Toyota ‘Safety Sense’ options package, including various driver aids and safety tech, is also included. What also sets the Toyota apart from its siblings is the warranty. While the standard 3-year / 60,000-mile cover is excellent, if you have the van serviced annually at a Toyota dealer the warranty continues right up to the van’s tenth birthday (up to a 100,000-mile limit).
Fiat Fiorino Cargo
When you’re choosing a small van, it could be that loadspace is a secondary priority to manoeuvrability and the ability to park in our towns and city streets - that’s where the little Fiat Fiorino excels. It’s less than 4m long and just over 1.7m wide, perfect for any congested road network. Don’t be fooled though, with a payload of up to 610kg and a load volume of up to 2.8 cubic metres, you’re getting a lot of practicality in a (very) small package. The 1.3-litre 80PS or 95PS engines also make light work of urban environments and long-distance motorway trips.
Ford Transit Courier
If you’ve decided that your new small van just has to be a Ford, but don’t really need the space that the Transit Connect offers, then take a look at the (compact) Ford Transit Courier. It’s much bigger on the inside than the discontinued Fiesta Van, with its 75PS and 100PS 1.5-litre diesel engines offering great economy (although if you do prefer a petrol van, there’s the award-winning 1.0-litre Ecoboost unit that can be specced). On the outside, the Courier is just 4.1mm long and the loadspace can take a length of 1.6m at the floor, providing 2.3 cubic metres of space.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
The very latest Fiat Doblo Cargo has adopted the platform already used by Peugeot, Citroen, Toyota and Vauxhall small vans, but Fiat has put its own spin on it with a very smart front end and big Fiat badge, clearly distinguishing the Doblo from its siblings. Fiat has also included some great options, these include ‘Magic Cargo’, which lets you store loads of up to 3.4m long using the space under the passenger seat. Then there’s the ‘Magic Mirror’, a 5-inch digital screen which gives the driver a rear view not usually possible on a van with a bulkhead and windowless rear doors. This also acts as a reverse camera and gives blind spot coverage. There’s never been an electric Doblo before now, which is where the zero-emission E-Doblo comes into play. Its 136HP electric motor can drive the van for up to 175 miles (proven under test conditions) before it needs a recharge - more than enough for most van users.
Why Lease A Small Van?
Leasing a small van is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive one. You pay fixed monthly payments (with no hidden costs or admin fees and can tailor the deal to your needs. Fnd out more and view our latest small van lease deals.
Are Small Vans Reliable?
These days, small vans are extremely reliable. The warranty lengths that manufacturers offer on their small vans demonstrates their confidence that your new small van will be trouble-free for years.
Are Small Vans Economical To Drive?
Small vans are the most economical vans you can lease. A Fiat Fiorino Cargo, for example, has an official combined fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg. And all-electric small vans use no fuel whatsoever, meaning you won’t have to spend money on any conventional fuel.
Can I Tow With A Small Van?
Most conventional fuel small vans can tow a braked trailer, often weighing over 1000kg. If you’re thinking of leasing an electric small van, check the manufacturer's specifications because not all electric vans are able to tow.
How Much Weight Can Small Vans Move?
It varies widely between vehicles. For example, a Ford Transit Courier offers a maximum payload of around 566kg, while a Citroen Berlingo can carry as much as 1000kg.
What Is The Standard Cargo Space In A Small Van?
Typically, a small van will provide a load volume of around 3.3 to 3.9 cubic metres, although some models have larger or smaller loadspace areas for you to fill.
Find more insights, reviews and news in the Vanarama Vans blog, or check out our latest van leasing deals.