In addition to size, cost, and fuel economy, there are many things to consider when purchasing a cargo van. For people operating in an urban area, maneuverability is important. While turning circle statistics are available online, they don’t really apply to most real-world driving scenarios like backing into parking spots or turning around tight corners. The best way to get a feel for a van’s maneuverability is to take it on a thorough test drive.
Cargo dimensions are also something to consider, especially for when you need to transport large and bulky items. When you go to take your test drive, bring a tape measure. In addition to the dimensions of the cargo area, remember to consider things like door size and placement. It may be a good idea to bring some of the bulkier items you need to haul around with you to the test drive as well to see how well they fit and how easy they are to load and unload.
Cargo vans are sold with a wide variety of powertrain options. Smaller powertrains may mean increased gas mileage, but aren’t capable of hauling as much as larger options. When selecting your engine type, consider your budget and how much weight you have to transport.
Also keep in mind the equipment a van comes with. Navigation systems might come in handy if your work involves venturing into unfamiliar areas. Backup cameras can help compensate for the low visibility that plagues windowless vans. And of course, since drivers often spend most of the day in their work vans, little luxuries like a media player or phone connectivity might be worth the extra boost in morale.
2016 Ford Transit Connect
The European-designed Ford Transit Connect was the first of its kind in North America and offers more options than other compact commercial vans. It comes in two main forms: a passenger-carrying “wagon” or a cargo van. In addition to this, it is available with either a long or standard wheelbase, a 2.5-litre or turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, and two different trim levels. It is easy to park and drives more like a small pickup than a cargo van. Its rear entrance is available in either a lift gate or a set of dual-hinged rear doors. Fuel economy is one of its strengths, with the 1.6-litre engine boasting a combined mileage of 25 mpg.
● Wheelbase: 104.8 in (standard)/120.6 in (long) ● Length: 173.9 in/189.7 in ● Width: 72.2 in ● Height: 72.5 in/72.8 in ● Turning radius: 36.1 ft/40 ft ● Cargo capacity: 103.9 ft3/128.6 ft3 ● Payload: 1,620 lb ● Towing capacity: 2,000 lb ● Horsepower: 169 hp (2.5-litre)/178 hp (1.6-litre) ● Torque: 171 lb-ft/184 lb-ft ● Combined fuel economy: 22 mpg/25 mpg
2016 Nissan NV200
Nissan’s NV200 is only available in one wheelbase option and two trim choices. It has a sliding door on each side and multiple tie-down points. It’s smaller and narrower than most of its rival compact cargo vans, which cuts down on cargo space but makes it very easy to drive.
● Wheelbase: 115.2 in ● Length: 186.3 in ● Width: 68.1 in ● Height: 73.7 in ● Turning radius: 36.7 ft ● Cargo capacity: 122.7 ft3 ● Payload: 1,450 lb/1480 lb ● Towing capacity: Not rated for towing ● Horsepower: 131 hp ● Torque: 139 lb-ft ● Combined fuel economy: 25 mpg
2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris
The Mercedes-Benz Metris is much larger than its competitors, with the longest wheelbase of all compact vans. It can haul more cargo than either the Ford Transit Connect or the Nissan NV200, and tows over twice as much as most other compact cargo vans. The clear “luxury” option, its price tag may be a bit high for most business owners. It’s also the only van on this list that uses rear wheel drive.
● Wheelbase: 126 in ● Length: 202.4 in ● Width: 75.9 in ● Height: 75.2 in ● Turning radius: 38.7 ft ● Cargo capacity: 186 ft3 ● Payload: 2,502 lb ● Towing capacity: 4,906 lb ● Horsepower: 208 hp ● Torque: 258 lb-ft ● Combined fuel economy: 22 mpg
2016 RAM ProMaster City
The RAM ProMaster City, inspired by the European Fiat-Chrysler Doblo, is available in four trim choices, two for the passenger version and two for the cargo version. It uses a 4-cylinder, 2.4-litre engine with an 9-speed automatic transmission. It is on the larger end of the spectrum and can transport seven occupants or a standard pallet.
● Wheelbase: 122.4 in ● Length: 187.5 in ● Width: 72.1 in ● Height: 74 in ● Turning radius: 42 ft ● Cargo capacity: 131.7 ft3 ● Payload: 1,883 lb ● Towing capacity: 2,000 lb ● Horsepower: 178 hp ● Torque: 174 lb-ft ● Combined fuel economy: 24 mpg
The push to make the road safer by limiting – and punishing – distracted drivers reached a new stage when recent studies revealed that distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. We’ve seen similar studies in the past, including experiments done by the TV show Mythbusters and Car and Driver magazine. Read more