Most economical commercial vehicles
Good economy can help reduce business costs - these are the most economical vans and commercials for sale in five classes
If you have a van to run then fuel economy will have an impact on your financial outgoings. Diesel prices aren't as cheap as they once were – it used to be the case that diesel was less than petrol, but that hasn't been the case for a number of years now. So we've looked at the spec sheets and official figures to list the vans, pick-up trucks and commercial 4x4s that deliver the best fuel economy.
The likelihood of being able to match these figures in the real world is entirely dependent on driving style, the payload on board, and even the weather (some stop-start equipped models won't operate as efficiently in cold weather, for example). But with a switch to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) to record fuel economy figures, you're more likely to achieve these figures in the real world.
Of more importance is that all of the combined WLTP fuel economy figures we've listed here are produced in a controlled environment, so they can be directly compared with each other to find the most economical vans for sale.
We've split these commercial vehicles into five different categories: small vans, mid-sized panel vans, large panel vans, pick-up trucks and commercial SUVs. We've highlighted the most economical models in each category, and named the variants with the best and worst quoted MPG figures to give an idea of the range of economy figures available.
Of course if you pile on the extra kit, such as an extended wheelbase, 4WD, a ply lining, tonneau cover, high roof or complete body conversion, then economy will be affected by the added weight of these options. The same goes for crew vans and passenger vans, because the extra weight of their additional seats and safety kit will have an adverse effect on economy, too.
The following vans are the most economical you can buy, so choose wisely and you'll be quids-in with the savings you make.
Most economical small vans
Ford Transit Courier
- Best: 1.5 EcoBlue 75hp manual – 61.4mpg to 65.7mpg
- Worst: 1.0 EcoBoost 100hp manual – 37.2mpg to 49.6mpg
- Best: 109CDI 95hp manual – 61.4mpg to 62.8
- Worst: 111CDI 116hp manual – 58.9mpg to 61.4mpg
The smallest model in the Ford Transit range is also the most economical in this sector. The Transit Courier is capable of 65.7mpg with the latest 1.5 EcoBlue diesel fitted, while the Transit is one of the few vans offered with petrol power. While the EcoBoost turbo three-cylinder has claimed economy of up to 49.6mpg, real-world economy is likely to struggle to match that.
Not too far behind the Transit Courier are the Mercedes Citan and Nissan NV250, which are very closely matched when it comes to fuel economy. This isn’t too surprising, considering both the Mercedes and Nissan use what is ostensibly the same 1.5-litre diesel engine. There’s not much to separate the pair in other areas, either, as both the Citan and NV250 are broadly in line with each other in areas like load bay size and bodystyle configurations.
An honourable mention goes to the little Fiat Fiorino van, which in its most efficient guise is also claimed to be capable of up to 62.8mpg.
Most economical mid-size panel vans
- Best (and worst): VN5 – 313.9mpg
- Best: 1.0 EcoBoost 126hp PHEV auto – 104.6mpg
- Worst: 2.0 EcoBlue 130hp Kombi auto – 34.4mpg
- Best: 2.0 dCi 145 manual H1L1 – 50.4mpg to 52.3mpg
- Worst: 2.0 dCi 145 manual H2L2 – 44.8mpg
There is an ever-growing selection of fully electric vans on the market (you can check some of the top ones here in our best electric van guide), but what if you’re not quite ready to ditch combustion engines entirely? Enter the Ford Transit Custom PHEV and the TX taxi-based LEVC VN5, which are currently the only plug-in hybrid panel vans on sale in the UK.
Of the two, the VN5 has the best on-paper fuel economy – LEVC quotes a 313.9mpg figure for the London taxi-based van. The Transit Custom is a long way from matching that, though the claimed 104.6mpg it’s capable of is still very good for a big and heavy model. You’ll probably struggle to get close to these impressive figures in day-to-day driving unless you’re able to make the most of the respective electric-only ranges that these plug-in hybrid vans offer. Predominantly use petrol engine power when you’re driving them, and your fuel economy will take a very big hit.
If conventional diesel power is what you’re after, then the most frugal option is currently the 145hp diesel-powered Nissan NV300. Nissan says it’s able to return up to 52.3mpg, though this can also be as low as 44.8mpg, depending on the length and height of the van you go for. Other efficient alternatives include the Fiat Talento (up to 52.3mpg) and the Vauxhall Vivaro (up to 44.8mpg).
Most economical large panel vans
- Best: 2.0 TDCi EcoBlue 170hp mHEV RWD – 43.5mpg to 53.3mpg
- Worst: 2.0 TDCi EcoBlue 130hp/170hp AWD – 33.6mpg
- Best: 2.3 dCi 150 manual L1H1 – 48.7mpg
- Worst: 2.3 dCi 150 auto L3H3 – 39.2mpg
- Best: 2.3 Multijet II 120hp manual SH1 – 41.5mpg to 43.4mpg
- Worst: 2.3 Multijet II 180hp auto Maxi LXH3 – 31.7mpg to 32.8mpg
Leading the way for large panel van fuel economy is the Ford Transit – in particular, the one powered by the 2.0-litre 170hp mild-hybrid diesel engine. Unlike the Transit Custom PHEV, it doesn’t have any electric-only driving credentials whatsoever, though the extra assistance from the motor generator unit means the Transit is capable of up to 53.3mpg.
As with many vans, fuel consumption also varies depending on factors such as how long and your chosen van will be. Likewise, fuel economy can also be affected by how many driven wheels there are – for example, Ford claims the all-wheel drive Transit just misses out on returning 34mpg.
Other large panel vans do well for fuel economy too. The Nissan NV400 can manage up to 48.7mpg in its most efficient guise, and the Fiat Ducato is also worth looking at if you’re after fairly frugal big van. A quick note regarding which wheels are driven on which vans, though: of the three large panel vans listed here, the Ducato is the only one that you can only specify with front-wheel drive.
Most economical pick-up trucks
- Best: 1.9D 163hp 4x2 manual – 45.6mpg
- Worst: 1.9D 163hp 4x4 auto – 36.2mpg
- Best: 2.0 EcoBlue 130hp/170hp manual – 39.2mpg to 40.9mpg
- Worst: 3.2 Duratorq TDCi 200hp auto – 29.7mpg
- Best: 2.3 dCi 163hp manual – 40.4mpg
- Worst: 2.3 dCi 190hp auto – 38.2mpg
There are three pick-up trucks for sale that are able to break the 40mpg barrier. At the time of writing, the best of the bunch is the Isuzu D-Max, which uses a 1.9-litre diesel engine that’s capable of returning up to 45.6mpg. However, this is only for the most basic, rear-wheel-drive-only versions. If you go for one of the all-wheel drive D-Max variants, the fuel economy falls to 40.4mpg (or even further to 36.2mpg, if you spec the optional automatic gearbox in place of the standard-fit manual).
Not far behind the Isuzu in the fuel-economy stakes is our current favourite pick-up truck, the Ford Ranger. With the most frugal version of its 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine under the bonnet, the Ranger can return up to 40.9mpg – and, according to the figures quoted by Ford, there’s no difference in fuel economy if it produces 130hp or 170hp.
Last on this list is the Nissan Navara, which can manage a pretty decent 40.4mpg. Fuel economy does vary depending on engine power and what gearbox is fitted, though the differences across the range aren’t that massive, as Nissan claims even the least efficient version of the Navara can manage a still-decent 38.2mpg.
Most economical commercial SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial
- Best (and worst: 2.4 PHEV auto – 139.7mpg
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial
- Best (and worst): 2.4 DI-D auto – 32.8mpg
Land Rover Discovery Commercial
- Best (and worst): D300 auto – 31.9mpg
Commercial vehicle versions of 4x4s and SUVs are a very niche area of the UK van market, though there is a decent selection of vehicles to choose from. If you’re after the best fuel economy possible, then the one to consider from that batch will be the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial, which is claimed to be capable of up to 139.7mpg. However, like the LEVC V5 and plug-in hybrid Ford Transit vans, the fuel economy you’ll get will depend greatly on how often you’re able to recharge the batteries and make the most of its electric-only range.
While it doesn’t have the potential to sip fuel like the Outlander PHEV Commercial does, the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial is still pretty frugal by 4x4 van standards, and also boasts a similar amount of room inside. The Land Rover Discovery Commercial is quite good when it comes to fuel economy, too – though do bear in mind it’s also quite a pricey option in this class.
Elsewhere, there’s the two-seater Land Rover Defender Hard Top to consider, and we also like the Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial. A light commercial vehicle variant of the Suzuki Jimny is on the way, too – which will help fill in some of the void that will be left when Mitsubishi eventually stops selling cars and commercial SUVs in the UK.
Check out the best large panel vans here...