Best big panel vans 2023
Pick the right large panel van, and you'll have a machine that can do all sorts of jobs. We name our favourites
If you’re searching for the best big panel van for your own personal use or as part of a larger fleet, the same qualities will apply whether you intend to buy or lease. Plentiful cargo volume, versatility, rugged build quality and top reliability are just some of the crucial factors that will not only make life easier, but will also help to keep your business on the road.
Modern large vans have greatly evolved to become much more refined than the noisy and spartan models of the past, and several models on this list boast many of the same luxuries that you would find in a car. An increasing number of vans are now offering the choice of all-electric power, too.
Safety tech such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and rear traffic alert can all help towards making these big machines much easier to drive. Improved refinement and soundproofing measures mean that they’re also much quieter and more comfortable.
Best big panel vans 2023
Choosing the right van is a hugely important investment, no matter what your business, so we’ve thoroughly tested every large panel van on sale in the UK to come up with our list of the best ones to buy. Read on to find them listed in reverse order…
8. Maxus Deliver 9
Maxus is the new name for budget Chinese van maker LDV (it started out by building vans using tooling shipped from the UK LDV plant to China). The company is continuing to expand its aspirations in the commercial vehicle market, and the Deliver 9 was the first all-new Maxus van.
The Deliver 9 is certainly a step forward from its LDV predecessors in terms of looks, and its Euro 6d-compliant 2.0-litre diesel engine is far more modern than the VM Motori unit found in the Maxus V80. Alternatively, if you’d prefer lower emissions, the all-electric e Deliver 9 claims up to 219 miles of battery range. However, pricing for this model starts at almost double that of the regular version.
The Deliver 9 panel van comes in two lengths and roof heights, while Maxus also offers two lengths of chassis cab and a wide variety of conversion options. The diesel engine makes 161bhp and 375Nm of torque, so it'll cope with most demands.
In the cab, the V80’s basic dashboard has been replaced by a better looking setup with more tech than before. There's even a Deliver 9 Luxury model, with kit such as LED headlights, keyless entry, blind spot and lane assist, alloy wheels and smartphone connectivity.
7. Citroen Relay/Peugeot Boxer/Vauxhall Movano
Like the Renault Master and Nissan Interstar, the Citroen Relay, Vauxhall Movano and Peugeot Boxer are essentially the same van, but with different badges on the nose. And like its Renault/Nissan counterpart, there's plenty of variety in the range, too.
There are four lengths in three wheelbases and three roof heights on offer, which means cargo volumes range from 8-17 cubic metres, while a payload of up to 1.9 tonnes is available if that's what's important to you.
Like rivals, there are off-the-shelf conversions also offered, with Luton, dropside, tipper, box body and even curtainside versions available direct from dealers. Electric versions of the Relay, Movano and Boxer are also all available.
In the cab, it's pretty basic when compared to the very latest large vans, but it's functional and roomy enough for three passengers.
The diesel-powered vans are fitted with BlueHDi engines, with power outputs ranging from 118 to 163bhp. While these engines are a bit noisy, they get the job done.
6. Iveco Daily
Another large van from a maker more familiar to the truck fraternity, the Iveco Daily is the smallest vehicle that the truck maker builds.
The Daily comes with a choice of engines, with the light-duty versions featuring a 2.3-litre diesel, and the heavy-duty vans coming with a 3.0-litre diesel with up to 210bhp. That latter engine is offered in vans that exceed the 3.5-tonne LCV weight limit, so you'll need a CV licence to drive one.
The latest round of updates saw the Daily get a subtly revised look, too, but it's one that's designed to deliver greater efficiency over a radical revamp. The changes under the skin are more significant, and with the addition of the latest connected services, it's a good choice for fleet operators.
5. Renault Master/Nissan Interstar
The Renault Master offers a wide range of options in the large van market. With four wheelbase lengths and three roof heights, there's sure to be a panel van to suit your needs.
Throw in the option of front or rear-wheel drive, and the Master really does cater for nearly every requirement. That includes electrification, with the Master ZE offering zero emissions driving for urban deliveries.
The most recent update to the Master introduced more car-like touches, and as ever it's a decent place to sit, with that tall driving position delivering a great view out. All of these attributes are shared with the Nissan Interstar – formerly known as the NV400 – which is essentially the same van (bar the electric option), with a five-year warranty where the Master's is three years. Both have a 100,000-mile limit, though.
4. Ford Transit
With the latest Transit, Ford divided up the range so that the largest model is called Transit, with the Transit Custom catering for the mid-sized sector. That has allowed Ford to concentrate on producing a large van that's perfect for work use, while constant updates have helped to keep the Transit fresh.
The latest EcoBlue diesel engine is far more efficient than the older TDCi unit, and this will allow you to travel much further between fill-ups without any compromise when it comes to payload. Opt for the 10-speed auto gearbox, and this offers efficiency and pulling power in equal measure.
As the brand continues to move towards electrification, Ford has added the option of a 2.0-litre EcoBlue mild-hybrid diesel drivetrain to the Transit. This system uses an integrated starter/generator to recover energy while the vehicle is coasting and stores it in a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. This energy is then used to support the engine and save fuel. An all-electric E-Transit is also available with a claimed battery range of up to 196 miles.
As with previous generations, there are panel van, crew cab and tipper versions of the Transit, while the passenger carrying version makes an excellent minibus. If you have a specific need in mind from your Transit, then a chassis cab version is available for conversion companies to use as a foundation.
3. Volkswagen Crafter/MAN TGE
If the MAN TGE looks familiar, it should, because aside from the MAN badges, it's essentially a rebadged Volkswagen Crafter. MAN is part of the VW Group, and while the maker is famous for its trucks, it has added the TGE to the line-up to cater for fleet truck users who need something a little smaller to bolster their fleet.
Both vans take the formula of the mid-sized T6.1 Transporter and super-size it. There's the same level of quality inside, and it uses the same tech you'll find in the VW passenger car range. That means adaptive cruise control and lane assist are on offer, while self-parking including trailer assist is also available.
The Crafter and TGE are surprisingly car-like to drive, too. They feel nimble and handle well for such a large van, while still offering the high driving position and clear view of the road ahead that these machines are known for. You can even specify a truck-style ‘ergoComfort suspension’ seat for greater long-distance comfort.
Like the Sprinter, there are diesel engines offered to make light work of the heaviest payloads, while different van lengths and roof heights are offered. There are Crew Cab and tipper variants, too.
2. Mercedes Sprinter
The Sprinter was the second model from Mercedes to receive the MBUX infotainment system (after the A-Class), and the van's connectivity means it's easy for fleet operators to monitor and track their vehicles via dedicated software. Throw in the latest safety kit and highlights such as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping, and the Sprinter is a safe place to be. Go for a high-spec version and it's plush, too.
As with the Ducato, there are a variety of lengths and roof heights on offer, and this generation of Sprinter is the first to be offered with a more efficient front-wheel drive layout. Diesel power is standard across the range, while the eSprinter offers electric drive that’s particularly ideal for urban delivery firms.
1. Fiat Ducato
While the Fiat Ducato looks similar to the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer on the outside, it’s on the inside where these vans differ as the Fiat uses the brand’s own engines and tech. These impressive powertrains, along with a sheer amount of customisation options and versatility, all earned the Ducato a Van of the Year commendation at our 2023 New Car Awards.
The Ducato’s 2.2 Multijet 3 diesel is available with outputs of either 118, 138 or 178bhp – the 138bhp and 178bhp variants also offer the option of a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Alternatively, an all-electric e-Ducato is also offered, and this has a claimed battery range of up to 230 miles.
One thing that doesn't change over the Relay and Boxer is the cargo volumes that the Ducato can carry. There's a maximum cargo volume of up to 17 cubic metres, while payloads are available up to 2.2 tonnes.
As well as the panel van, there's a spacious crew van variant and a dropside or tipper, which comes in either single or double cab forms. Whichever version you choose, the Fiat can be had with a traction control system that can compensate for off-road driving, while the stability control automatically adjusts according to the amount of payload and its distribution in the load area.
The best big panel vans to buy now
- Fiat Ducato
- Mercedes Sprinter
- Volkswagen Crafter / MAN TGE
- Ford Transit
- Renault Master/Nissan Interstar
- Iveco Daily
- Citroen Relay/Peugeot Boxer/Vauxhall Movano
- Maxus Deliver 9
Choosing the right big panel van
While diesel engines are still the most common in the big van sector, there's now an increasing number of electric vans available for those looking for a zero-emissions vehicle. Many drivers will find these electric versions even easier and more comfortable to drive than their diesel counterparts, too, because they're automatic and move in relative silence. Even better, the latest big vans are packed with technology, some featuring the kind of kit you'd usually find in cars, as well as the latest telematics tech, so operators can get the most out of busy fleets.
The majority of large vans are offered with various body lengths (wheelbases) and roof heights, while chassis cab variants in different lengths offer a wide range of conversion options to buyers. If you're going down the conversion route, some are available directly from the factory, but there are also plenty of approved companies who can build a vehicle to your exact requirements.
In addition, there are single and twin-wheel rear axle options available for carrying the heaviest payloads, front-wheel drive to maximise payload volume, and even 4x4 vans with a raised ride height for more rugged work.
Multi-seat crew van and crew cab variants are also on offer, as are tipper and pick-up versions, while multi-seat minibus versions cater for the private hire market and schools. Conversions also allow you to fit out the interior of a panel van however you want – including adding racking and other useful features. The latest large vans are prepped to an industry standard so they're ready to be kitted out from the factory.
It's worth noting that the biggest large diesel vans don't necessarily have the biggest payloads. These models need to have a gross weight that doesn't exceed 3.5 tonnes, otherwise they're no longer classed as light commercial vehicles, and you can't drive them on a standard car licence. If payload rather than cargo volume is important to you, it could be worthwhile looking at a slightly smaller van so you don't break the limit.
Thinking of making the switch to electric power? These are the best all-electric vans...