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Van of the Year 2022: Fiat Ducato

The Fiat Ducato is the 2022 Auto Express Van of the Year, with the Ford Transit Custom and Suzuki Jimny Commercial commended

Evolution is very much the keyword when it comes to the van market. Makers strive to bring their models up to date with the latest tech, while still maintaining or trying to improve on the payload weights and cargo volumes that operators are used to. The latest Fiat Ducato is a prime example of this, and that’s why it takes our Van of the Year award in 2022.

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Apart from a new Fiat logo on the nose, from the outside the eighth-generation Ducato looks largely identical to its predecessor. That’s because it uses the same bodyshell, but this van is packed with new running gear and the latest tech. There’s a revised 2.2-litre Multijet 3 diesel engine under the bonnet that’s available in three power outputs (118, 138 and 178bhp) and delivers improved efficiency without compromising power, while a new nine-speed automatic gearbox (available with the two higher outputs) offers better responses than its predecessor, and improved efficiency.

The Ducato panel van comes in two wheelbases, three lengths and three roof heights, with cargo volumes ranging from eight to 17 cubic metres. In addition, Fiat offers the Ducato as a chassis cab ready for conversion, and there are ready-built tippers and dropsides on the price lists, as well as passenger-carrying window van and combi versions.

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Where the Ducato really impresses is in the cab. You sit forward to maximise the cargo space behind you, but Fiat offers a wide range of options that allow you to upgrade this van to offer car-like tech on board. Choose the U-Connect infotainment system, for example, and you get a high-resolution 10-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a digital rear-view mirror and seven-inch digital instrument cluster add to the hi-tech feel inside.

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Even more impressive is the safety kit on offer, some of which is a first for a large panel van. Lane assist and centring, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist are all on offer, as is active park assist with 360-degree cameras, so you can manoeuvre the Ducato as easily as a smaller van.

Our choice

Fiat Ducato 2.2 Multijet 140HP 35 LH2 (£36,555 ex-VAT)

The Ducato pictured is a good example of what you can get, but with so much variety on offer, there’s a large van or conversion suitable for nearly every need. The models up to 3.5 tonnes (badged 33 or 35) can be driven on a car licence if you passed your test after January 1997, while the heavier 4.25-tonne versions (badged 42) need a category C or C1 licence to drive.

Commended

Ford Transit Custom

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The big-selling Transit Custom is still our top choice in the medium-size van segment. It comes in two lengths, with two roof heights and as a versatile double cab, while the diesel engine line-up ranges from the economical to the powerful. The basic model makes a great workhorse, while the Active and Sport versions are surprisingly family friendly, but with more space than any SUV can deliver.

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Suzuki Jimny Commercial

We’re fans of commercial 4x4s here at Auto Express, and the Jimny Commercial is a great addition to the ranks that keeps Suzuki’s baby off-roader on the market. It delivers the go-anywhere ability that this kind of model prioritises over anything else, while still offering the standard car’s head-turning looks – and in an arguably more practical two-seat configuration.

The 2022 New Car Awards are brought to you in association with Hankook tyres

New Car Awards 2022: the winners

Special edition of Auto Express

Auto Express Issue 1,736

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