Van of the Year 2017: Volkswagen Crafter

The Volkswagen Crafter is the 2017 Auto Express Van of the Year, with the Ford Transit and Peugeot Expert commended

New large vans aren’t launched very often, so when a fresh model does arrive it will almost certainly cause some upset. With the latest Volkswagen Crafter, the category has a new leader. As with the newly introduced VW Transporter that won last year’s Best Van award, the Crafter delivers the kind of kit that always makes VW’s products so appealing.

Autonomous braking and Bluetooth are standard, while lane keeping, park assist and trailer assist are all available to make driving this full-size van as easy as possible. VW has also paid special attention to cabin and seat comfort, to ensure that if you’re behind the wheel all day you won’t be enduring a back-breaking slog. What’s more, there’s plenty of space for you and your passengers, as well as a great view out so you can position this full-size van accurately on the road.

The Crafter is a pleasant place in which to spend time, but it’s a workhorse first and foremost, and it has all the storage solutions you could possibly need. There’s a big glovebox, a massive storage area under the passenger seats, spacious overhead bins and deep door pockets. And then, of course, there’s the load volume in the back.

At the moment you can choose from two wheelbase options, and all versions come with a high roof, while the load area is ready to be kitted out with the gear required to do business. Lashing eyes and universal-fit shelving mounts make life easier, plus VW will offer a range of modular installations to help businesses make the most of the Crafter’s carrying ability.

This versatility is combined with a range of 2.0 TDI diesels. These deliver great pulling power, which can cope with a gross train weight (the loaded van plus trailer) of up to six tonnes, as well as return the kind of fuel efficiency that’s on par with vans from a smaller class. It’s clear VW has hit the bull’s eye with the Crafter. 

Our choice 

Volkswagen Crafter 2.0 TDI 140 CR35 Trendline MWB (£36,073 incl. VAT)

This mid-spec diesel in medium-wheelbase, high-roof form has more than enough pulling power, along with a potential 38mpg depending on how close you get to the 3.5-tonne GVW. Trendline comes with gear to help you forget you’re in a van, too, with cruise control and an eight-inch infotainment system.

Commended 

Ford Transit

Ford Transit - front

The Transit is still one of the best vans on offer, and a range of late-2016 updates has helped it remain on the podium. New, more efficient 2.0 TDCi diesels have boosted running costs without compromising pulling power, while a new six-speed auto and four-wheel drive have also added to its appeal.

Peugeot Expert

Peugeot Expert - front

Along with the Citroen Dispatch and Toyota Proace, the latest Expert uses the same platform as Peugeot’s 308 hatch. This makes it one of the most car-like vans to drive. Add in super-efficient engines, two wheelbases, three body lengths and panel, crew or platform-cab configurations, and there’s an Expert to suit most jobs.

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