Peugeot Boxer van review
Can the latest Peugeot Boxer bob and weave its way to the top of the large panel van class? We get behind the wheel to find out.
It was 2006 when Peugeot launched this Peugeot Boxer and the large panel van has ably headed-up the French marque’s light commercial vehicle range ever since. Even by van standards 8 years is a long time, however, and for 2014 Peugeot devised a comprehensive facelift to give its star load-lugger a new lease of life.
The result is the latest Peugeot Boxer; still a large panel van rival for the likes of the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter, still the result of a platform sharing venture that also spawned the Citroen Relay and Fiat Ducato, but now a comprehensively refreshed, updated and ready to get back in the ring.
The latest Boxer gets an attractively penned front end that borrows styling cues from the latest Peugeot passenger car range. Crucially, the Boxer’s looks now set it apart from its Relay and Ducato sister vehicles with each of the three branching off in different styling directions.
In addition to the sharp headlights with (optional) LED running lights and the new ‘floating’ grille, today’s Boxer also benefits from a higher quality interior, lots more equipment, an improved engine range and various other tweaks to improve durability. To say it feels like a new van would be over-generous but it comes close.
The Boxer range is as wide and varied as before so operators can choose from panel van payload capacities ranging from 1,115kg up to 1,900kg. Load volumes extend from 8 cubic metres in the L1 H1 (short wheelbase, low roof) model to 17 cubic metres in the L4 H3 (extra long wheelbase, high roof) version. Beyond the panel vans is the usual mix of chassis cabs, tippers, drop-side trucks and crew cabs that can be adapted to operator needs. In all cases, there’s a choice of standard or Professional trim levels.
In the engine bay there’s a choice of HDi common-rail diesel engines. Most will choose the 2.2-litre versions with either 110, 130 or 150bhp that benefit from a revised fuel injection system but there is also a range-topping 3.0-litre unit with a 180bhp output for heavy duty work. The 2.2 HDi 130 engine is now available with stop-start to boost fuel economy.
Overall, the Boxer isn’t quite as slick to drive as the Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter but it can match those models in terms of practicality and user-friendliness. Where it gains an edge is on the equipment list with Peugeot’s generous specifications, even on the entry-level vans, sure to appeal to buyers.
MPG and Running Costs
The Boxer is one of the more frugal vans on the market and there’s only a slight fuel consumption penalty for choosing the more powerful engine options. In the short-wheelbase panel vans the 110bhp and 130bhp versions of the 2.2-litre HDi engine both return economy of 41.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 180g/km.
Go for a long-wheelbase L3 model and economy varies between 39.2mpg and 37.7mpg depending on your choice of 2.2-litre powerplant. The stop-start technology that’s available on the 130bhp models is of most benefit in an urban setting and reduces CO2 emissions by an average of 5g/km.
To help keep running costs down, all of the engines in the latest Boxer are fitted with a timing chain that will last the life of the vehicle and service intervals are now extended to two years of 30,000 miles. Larger brakes reduce the rate of wear and improve stopping power.
Load Space and Practicality
The Boxer’s extensive body range gives it one of the top load carrying capacities in the class, bettering the largest Ford Transit for load volume. Four body lengths and three roof heights are becoming the standard for vans of the Boxer’s size and it makes the Peugeot suitable for a wide range of applications.
Outside panel vans, the Boxer is a popular base for motor caravan conversions, too. The gross weight range extends from 3,000kg to 4,005kg. The upper weight limit puts the van into HGV licence territory and many drivers will be unable to drive models above 3,500kg GVW without an HGV licence.
The entry level L1H1 model has traditionally been a strong seller. The L1H1 and L3H2 are the only models in the range offered with a single body length and roof height. Along with the Fiat Ducato and Citroen Relay, the Boxer offers one of the widest load space widths in its class at 1,870mm, while the tallest H3 model offers the greatest interior height at 2,172mm, more than the 2,140mm of the tallest Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter.
The Boxer offers a generous 1,422mm between the wheel arches, so will easily accommodate a Europallet widthways. Similarly a side-door width of 1,250mm should permit pallet loading from the side door. A full-height steel bulkhead is now standard equipment too.
A nearside sliding load door is standard and a second sliding door on the offside is an option. At the rear, the doors open to 180 degrees as standard and the Peugeot offers 260 degrees opening rear doors on the options list. Central locking is standard, making it easier to secure the van when loading and unloading.
Reliability and Safety
The Boxer has been around for a while now and appears to be generally reliable, with no particular major faults reported. The diesel engines have a good reputation for reliability, too. In the latest facelifted vans a number of features have been redesigned to improve durability including a strengthened body structure and new load bay door mechanisms. The revised van was driven over 2.5 million miles as part of the testing process.
ESP electronic stability control with Hill Start Assist is standard equipment on the latest Boxer, along with an ABS braking system with Emergency Brake Assist. There’s a driver’s airbag included as standard too but you’ll have to explore the options list for passenger and curtain airbags. The big four-tonne Boxers also get a land departure warning system as standard but this must be specified as an option on smaller vans.
Driving and Performance
The 2.2-litre diesel is the mainstay of the Boxer range and pulls well in all forms, including the least powerful 110bhp variant. The 130bhp and 150bhp units provide added flexibility for less gear swapping when carrying larger payloads but in an unladen van the difference between the 110 and 130bhp units isn’t huge. The 180bhp range topper is a 3.0-litre 4-cylinder unit and gives a useful performance boost without harming fuel economy too much.
The Boxer drives well enough with light, well-positioned controls and good visibility out of the front. The dash-mounted gearshift is notchy, however, and the engines sound harsh when pushed hard. The ride quality is pretty good on the Boxer but the Ford Transit achieves a more composed, supple feel.
There’s a range of height adjustment for the steering wheel and the driving position is generally good, although other rivals such as the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter offer more comfortable seats.
Cab and Interior
The Boxer cab includes plenty of stowage space, including two large glove boxes, one in the centre of the dashboard and the other in the usual place on the passenger side. The dash moulding includes a number of additional storage options plus there are large door bins, storage space under the seats and a shelf above the windscreen. The Boxer takes some beating when it comes to laying on places to keep your stuff.
A dual passenger seat is standard, with a single passenger seat as a no-cost option. The dual seat includes a pull-down table top in the back of the middle seat for completing paperwork.
The latest Boxer models feature a redesigned steering wheel with big, chunky buttons and updated controls on the dashboard. There are new audio systems and, in a first for a large panel van, an optional 5” colour touchscreen display. The plastics used in the cabin are hard but durable while the touchscreen system works well while adding a real air of quality to the interior.
Peugeot offers reversing sensors as standard on the Professional models but there’s an impressive reversing camera system on the options list. Mounted on the top of the van, the camera gives a bird’s eye view of what’s directly behind the vehicle and could be invaluable in avoiding parking knocks.
|L1H1 low roof van||2,254mm||2,050mm||4,963mm|
|L2H1 low roof van||2,254mm||2,050mm||5,413mm|
|L2H2 medium roof van||2,524mm||2,050mm||5,413mm|
|L3H2 medium roof van||2,524mm||2,050mm||5,998mm|
|L4H2 medium roof van||2,524mm||2,050mm||6,363mm|
|L4H3 high roof van||2,764mm||2,050mm||6,363mm|
(Width including door mirrors: 2,508mm)
Load area dimensions
|L1H1 low roof van||1,662mm||1,870mm||2,670mm||8.0m3|
|L2H1 low roof van||1,662mm||1,870mm||3,120mm||10.0m3|
|L2H2 medium roof van||1,623mm||1,870mm||3,120mm||11.5m3|
|L3H2 medium roof van||1,932mm||1,870mm||3,705mm||13.0m3.|
|L4H2 medium roof van||1,932mm||1,870mm||4,070mm||15.0m3|
|L4H3 high roof van||2,172mm||1,870mm||4,070mm||17.0m3|
(Width between wheel arches: 1,422mm)
- Power: 110bhp – 180bhp
- Weight (GVW): 3,000kg – 4,005kg
- Payload: 1,115kg – 1,900kg
- Loading height (approx, unladen) : 535mm – 565mm