Small vans come in all shapes & sizes, with some capable of carrying payloads you'd only expect a medium van to cope with. No matter what size of van you're looking for, running costs are going to play a key part in your decision, but trawling through figures is a hassle you don't need. That's why we asked Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts to pull together a list of the top 5 small vans by MPG.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I feel like the PSA Group small vans (Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner & Vauxhall Combo) changed how we look at small vans today. Before the Citroen Berlingo launched in 2019 (& started hoovering up every van award known to man), vans like the Ford Transit Connect & Volkswagen Caddy were what we'd call small vans. They were truly small & car-like, with smaller payloads, smaller cabins & smaller engines.
This is not the case anymore, because the PSA Group small vans have changed everything. Now, small vans look like slightly scaled down medium vans &, in some cases, they can exceed the payloads of medium vans. Their cabins are bigger too, packed with storage cubbies & generally feeling like the interiors of small commercial vehicles rather than large cars. But the most important place they've improved, however, is the engines. Without good engines payloads would not be high, the vehicles would be inefficient to run & would end up offering users no return on their investments.
Now we get to the crux of this article. Return on investment is crucial when it comes to choosing a van & one of the best ways to establish if a vehicle will be cost-effective is to check out its miles-per-gallon (MPG) ratings. But no one wants to go digging through brochures trying to find them (apart from me), so here are the top 5 small vans by MPG.
Before We Get Started...
All stated MPG ratings are New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) figures or NEDC-derived for conventional fuels, & all CO2 emissions ratings are taken from the stated combined cycle figures to present a fair comparison between models. For this article, I've included vehicles classed as a 'small van', which is why you'll see the Ford Fiesta technically a car-derived compact van) in this list, & speaking of the Ford Fiesta Van...
1. Ford Fiesta Van - 80.7MPG
It's the Ford Fiesta Van that gets the winner's trophy today with an astounding 80.7MPG rating - that's almost 12mpg ahead of its nearest rivals. Whichever trim level you choose - Standard or Sport - you'll be able to achieve this MPG rating. Perhaps most impressive, however, is that the Ford Fiesta Van's 1.5-litre TDCi 85PS engine (Euro 6.2) is also way ahead of the competition when it comes to emissions too - it boasts a CO2 output of just 93g/km. It certainly is an efficient & cost-effective little van, with a little touch of being friendlier to the environment than most other vans. You'll even find it mentioned in a recent article I wrote about the best vans & pickups for MPG too - it's just that good!
2. Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Vauxhall Combo - 68.8MPG
Hammering their way into second place (after all that praise I gave them in the introduction), it's the PSA Group small vans - the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner & Vauxhall Combo. The frankly excellent 68.8MPG rating is achieved with the 75PS Euro 6D-TEMP version of the staple 1.5 litre diesel engine fitted to this trio of platform-sharing vans. This engine also helps these vans offer class-leading payloads with almost 1000kgs available in models offered with this engine. It's a pretty clean runner too, with Co2 emissions of 107k/gm (model dependent) - as if these 3 vans needed any more praise heaped on their shoulders.
3. Ford Transit Courier - 65.7MPG
The Ford Transit Courier is definitely a small van sitting somewhere between a car-derived van like the Fiesta Van & the PSA Group vans in terms of size. Once again, Ford's excellent 1.5 TDCi engine is the powerhouse offering users the outstanding fuel consumption rating of 65.7MPG. In the Transit Courier, this engine offers the same MPG rating at both the 75PS & 100PS power outputs with CO2 emissions of just 112g/km. It's an odd looking little van with a snub nose & squashed back end, but the MPG & CO2 figures make it an appealing choice if you're the kind of van user that needs to carry small but heavy loads.
4. Renault Kangoo, Nissan NV-250, Mercedes-Benz Citan - 62.8MPG
Another trio of platform-sharing vans occupies the 4th slot on this list & they couldn't be a more diverse bunch. You've got the long-standing Renault Kangoo, the recently updated Nissan NV250 & the premium Mercedes-Benz Citan - although they share a lot of components. Similar to the Ford Transit Courier, 2 of the 1.5-litre diesel engines (80PS & 95PS) offer the same fuel consumption figures of 62.8MPG. The stated figures vary slightly between the manufacturers of these vehicles, but are achievable thanks to the Euro 6D–TEMP engines that output CO2 emissions starting from just 117g/km.
5. Fiat Fiorino - 62.8MPG
Finally we have the little Fiat Fiorino, a long-serving van that rumours suggest may be on the cusp of phasing out of the UK market. It's MPG rating of 62.8MPG is identical to the vans in the number 4 slot, but because it's a different van I felt it deserved its moment in the sun. Packing a 1.3-litre Multijet Euro 6D-TEMP diesel engine under the bonnet, you'd expect the Fiorino to be a rare visitor to the filling station, which it is. It's a no-nonsense vehicle that does well on the used market thanks to its fuel-efficiency & hard-working attitude. The engine is only beginning to show its age with CO2 emissions of 117g/km (the same emission figure as some bigger engines on this list), but it's done a good job over the years. If the rumours are true & the Fiorino is on its way out of the UK, I'll certainly be saying "bon voyage", never "goodbye", to this heroic little van.
The UK Government's recent announcement that combustion engines will cease being sold by 2030 in favour of electric vehicles means that MPG ratings now have a shelf life of 10 years. But a lot can happen in 10 years & if you're choosing a new van to drive right now then fuel costs are naturally a key deciding factor.
The vans above are the best for MPG in the small van sector, but what's best is that you have a range of choice here. If you wanted a small car-derived van that doesn't break the bank, you've got the Ford Fiesta Van. Perhaps you need a small van with a big loading bay for delivery driving, then pick one of the PSA Group vans. Or perhaps you're looking for a strong tried & tested van to see out the next few years, that's your Fiat Fiorino.
My point is that the small van sector is as rich in choice as the entire van sector itself. You'll find a van that works for you & your business in here. Finally, remember, just because a van calls itself a 'small' van, doesn't actually mean it will be small. Just take a look at the PSA Group vans & you'll see what I mean!