Large vans usually get judged on their ability to haul weight & bulk - it's what they're made for - but fuel efficiency is always next on the list. Customers want vans that will keep them moving for a reasonable amount of money, but sometimes it can be hard to know where to start their search. That's why we asked Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts to tell us which 5 large vans offer the best return on fuel costs.
Considering the work they're designed to do - typically transporting big, heavy cargo loads long distances - it's no wonder there are so many large vans on UK roads. While many large vans work in the fleets of major multinationals, there are many single-van tradespeople who opt for vehicles on the larger side. But no matter how big the business is, return on investment - & specifically return on fuel expenditure - is a key consideration when choosing which large van to drive.
Most vans feature the same things these days - comfortable cabins, infotainment systems, air con, etc - so finding key points of difference between them to eventually land on one to drive is important. After payload ratings & load volume, I believe fuel efficiency is the next best way to do that. So, sit back & take a look at the top 5 large vans with the best fuel efficiency on UK roads today.
Just A Note On The Figures...
Before we get going, all of the stated MPG ratings I've used in this list are the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) figures or NEDC-derived figures for conventional fuels. Any other figures stated - e.g. for torque - are taken from manufacturer sources.
1. Vauxhall Movano / Renault Master - 48.5MPG*
I think we can all agree that this is a superb result for the Vauxhall Movano with the big 2.3-litre diesel engine in the 150PS guise. Interestingly, the Renault Master - which platform shares with the Movano - is only slightly beaten by the Movano & totally capable of offering users a formidable 47.9MPG. The Movano, however, is the star of the show, achieving almost 50mpg (unladen). At the 150PS output, the diesel engine also offers drivers an excellent 385nm of torque, which means big payloads are very possible. Overall, either the Movano or Master will provide a great combination for someone needing an efficient load carrier that offers real ROI in fuel savings.
2. Ford Transit - 43.5MPG
Ford is deservedly proud of the efficiency offered by its excellent Euro 6.2 EcoBlue diesel engines fitted to the Transit (& the Transit Custom). What's most astonishing is that the 130PS, 170PS & 185PS versions of the engine all allow the Transit to achieve this excellent fuel consumption figure, while still providing torque outputs of up to 415nm. People often ask me why the Ford Transit sells in huge numbers annually. This is a critical reason why. When you consider how affordable a Ford Transit already is (especially when you lease it), that you also save money on fuel costs makes it a near-unbeatable proposition.
3. Fiat Ducato - 43.4MPG
Who'd have thought the Fiat Ducato would be snapping at the heels of the mighty Ford Transit? The Ducato achieves a well-deserved third position with its 2.3-litre Multijet diesel engine in both 120PS & 140PS power outputs (fitted to the 33 & 35 models respectively). But wait, it gets better: the 35 model is the clear class leader in the large van sector when it comes to payload with the outstanding ability to carry 1605kg!
4. VW Crafter / MAN TGE - 38.2MPG
As you'll have seen with most of the large vans on this list, it's the mid-range engines that seem to be offering up the best ROI when it comes to fuel consumption. The Crafter is no different, although this one is utilising an automatic transmission to get that MPG rating (the MAN TGE offers similar figures), specifically in MWB high roof form. Fitted with the excellent 2.0-litre TDi Euro 6D 140PS engine - which produces a respectable 340nm of torque - the VW Crafter (because that's the one I'd pick) offers users a touch of premium class in the large van sector. But if you want a true piece of class, check out the final entry below.
5. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter - 36.2MPG**
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter might not be the most economical large van but it makes up for that with the huge number of differing versions on offer & the best cabin tech in the sector. The version taking the fifth spot on my list is the 316 L2 van fitted with the 163PS 2.1-litre Euro 6 engine & 7-Gtronic automatic gearbox. Check out my review & previous articles about the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to see why this van has such a big head (spoiler, I love it a bit). That it came number 5 on this list means there's at least 20 other vans that didn't make the cut in terms of MPG & takes nothing away from the well-deserved reputation of this excellent van.
I'll be frank, there were a couple of surprises in this list - namely, the Fiat Ducato grabbing the number 3 spot & the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter just scraping the number 5 spot. So, let's just take a moment to look at what they were & why they were such a surprise for me.
First of all, the Ducato's engine is 0.2 litres larger than the Sprinter's, which made me feel like it was going to be less efficient despite the Sprinter's engine being more powerful.
Secondly, isn't it impressive that the Fiat Ducato can carry over 1600kg?! The platform it's built on is clearly as hard as nails.
Thirdly, that automatic transmission vans are now MORE efficient than their manual equivalents just shows you how advanced today's auto gearboxes are & why you might want to snap up a van with one fitted.
To finish up, I'd offer this advice to anyone using this list as part of their research into choosing a large panel van. There are loads to choose from, so make your choice on the things that matter to you & your business needs. If you have to drive long distances, fuel economy will play a bigger part in your decision-making process than someone who operates locally. Either way, you'll find the large van sector is packed with choice. Happy hunting.
*Vauxhall quotes WLTP figures in their literature. NEDC derived figures are taken from independent data sources.
**Mercedes-Benz quotes WLTP figures in their literature. NEDC derived figures are taken from independent data sources.