The Toyota Proace & Mercedes-Benz Vito medium vans couldn't be more different. The Proace is Toyota's version of the PSA Group's practical medium vans & the Vito is widely praised for being the most luxurious van on the market - but each one excels in different ways. Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts reveals how.
On the surface, the Toyota Proace & Mercedes-Benz Vito come from 2 different walks of life - the Proace is practical & spacious, while the Vito is luxurious & classy. That might be enough information for you to decide between them, but dig a little deeper & you will uncover more facts to base your decision on.
The Proace is built on the same medium van platform as the PSA Group's 3 medium vans - Citroen Dispatch, Vauxhall Vivaro & Peugeot Expert - although Toyota have made painstaking efforts to give it dramatically different looks & trim level options. The result is a well-rounded medium van that shares its brothers' best features & adds in a few of its own.
The Mercedes-Benz Vito, meanwhile, shares some practicality elements of the Renault Trafic medium van (including engine options), but provides users a wide range of trademark Mercedes-Benz luxury flourishes. In this case, you end up with a medium van that proudly displays its top-end style, but hides a wealth of practicality behind the 3-spoke badge.
Let's get cracking & compare these 2 vehicles in the 4 places it counts - engines, cabins, loading bays & external looks.
It must be said that while the Toyota Proace is a good-looking van, it features a fairly uninspiring exterior look at the base Active trim level with the only major feature to pull out being a 30% rear window tint. The shift up to Icon trim nets a 70% rear window tint & 5-spoke wheel trims for your steelies. It's when you get to the range-topping Design trim level that things get serious with 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights & body-coloured bumpers, door mirrors & handles. Personally, I'd opt for Icon or Active because those trim levels are when the Proace's exterior actually starts to come alive.
The Mercedes-Benz Vito gets immediate points for its famous 3-spoke badge - you see the Mercedes-Benz badge, you immediately think luxury, right? We start with the entry level Progressive trim level which offers colour-coded bumpers & front fog lamps - remember you had to choose the top trim level on the Proace to get either of those. The Premium trim level offers major external enhancements in the shape of 17-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille, metallic paint & a second side loading door (amazing addition). Finally, the Sport trim level - a crewvan-only trim level - adds AMG side skirts, bonnet, sill graphics, LED head & tail lamps, & roof rails. You do pay a premium for all these options… but they're excellent.
**Tom's winner: **While I think the Proace is a good-looking van, the Vito wins hands down. You'll pay for the badge, but don't you always?
Under The Bonnet: Engines Compared
The Toyota Proace offers drivers a choice of 1.5-litre & 2.0-litre diesel engines. The 1.5-litre engine comes in 100hp or 120hp outputs, while the 2.0-litre engine comes in 120hp or 180hp (8-speed auto only) outputs. Availability of these engines, however, varies depending on which trim level & body style you choose. Something to bear in mind is that the 2.0-litre engine at the 120hp output develops 340nm torque compared to 300nm for the 120hp output on the 1.5-litre engine - it's quite a jump so choose your engine wisely.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz Vito features two engine sizes: a 1.8-litre & 2.0-litre diesel. The smaller of those 2 engines is only offered on the front-wheel drive versions & is available in 102ps & 136ps power outputs. The larger engine is offered in 136ps, 163ps & 190ps power outputs for all vehicles up to Premium trim level (although you can't get a top-spec Sport model with the 136ps engine option). All engines are Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard & the 2.0-litre engine is also available with the excellent 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox. The fully-electric e-Vito is also available - although it makes some hefty compromises on payload & range that van users might think twice about.
Tom's winner: The Vito engine options always feel like a bit of a confusing list, while the Proace engine range is incredibly easy to navigate. I'd go for the Proace with the 2.0-litre engine at 120hp - simple as that.
In The Cabin
At the front end, the Toyota Proace is a relatively simple blend of comfort & practicality. The entry-level Active trim is not huge on spec, but it does get DAB radio & cruise control as standard. The Icon trim level adds aircon & rear parking sensors (now we're talking), while the top-spec Design trim level adds the Toyota Safety Sense package (featuring pre-collision detection, adaptive cruise, heads-up display & cornering lights), a 7-inch infotainment unit with sat nav & front parking sensors. That's your lot - simple & functional.
On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz Vito at Progressive trim level is really good with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, cruise control, reverse camera & an 8-way adjustable driver's seat. There's also some standard safety tech included, such as crosswind assist, attention assist & active brake assist (very useful). Next, the Premium trim level adds a parking package & the excellent TEMPMATIC air conditioning system. The Sport trim level (again, only available on the crewcab version) gets an upgraded infotainment system including sat nav, black leatherette upholstery & heated front seats. However, the icing on the cake is that Mercedes-Benz have made their PRO Connect vehicle monitoring package standard across the range - it features remote locking, geofencing, theft alerts & remote notification of maintenance requirements. Blimey, what an exhaustive list of options!
**Tom's winner: **It's obviously the Vito. What a list of options! The fact that most of them appear at the standard entry trim level is incredible.
The Loading Bay
The Toyota Proace comes in 3 body lengths - Compact, Medium & Long - but no height options (a common feature of all PSA Group medium van platform sharers). The Long version features a load volume of 6.6 cubic metres & a maximum load length of 2.86m. Across the range, payloads vary from 960kg to a whopping 1458kg! Twin side-sliding doors are standard across the range - a huge plus point - & vehicles above the Icon trim level get Toyota's excellent Smart Cargo load-through system (extending load length by another metre), an upright folding passenger seat & fold-down desk.
The Mercedes-Benz Vito also comes in three lengths - in this case referred to as L1, L2 & L3. The L3 features a load volume of 6.6cu/m (similar to the Proace) with a maximum load length of 3.06m. Payloads vary from 650kg to 750kg (much less than even the Proace's lowest payload) with the load floor lined with 10mm plywood as standard. The two highest trim levels get 2 side-sliding doors - although you get 2 on any Proace trim - & the tailgate rear door is the standard option (which I happen to really like).
**Tom's winner: **The Proace wins for the incredible maximum payload of nearly 1500kg. The Vito's payload is low - there's no 2 ways about it.
There's a lot to like about both the Toyota Proace & Mercedes-Benz Vito, but they're like night & day. The Proace excels in the ways a pure commercial vehicle should - good engines & excellent loading bays - while the Vito excels in looks, style & sheer volume of options available.
In the end, your choice of the 2 will depend on what you need from a van, how much weight you need to carry & how much actual luxury you want/need. Don't forget though that leasing lets you drive the van you want, not the one you can get. If you want that Vito luxury, go for it because it's cheaper on a lease… but a top-spec Proace has a lot to offer for less money. Decisions, decisions, eh?
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