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What are the Main Types of Vans?

What are the Main Types of Vans?

What are the main van types?

Choosing a used van that's the right type for your business or for your personal use is an important task. You need to make sure that your van is not only the right size, but is also suitable for carrying the kinds of loads you'll be transporting, and can access the locations you'll be travelling to. So, we've put together a guide to the different van types available, their specifications and more, so that you can make the most informed choice for your business.

To find out everything you might want to consider when looking for your next used van, take a look at our Van Buying Infographic

What van types are available?

Let's take a look at some of the most popular van types and specifications, grouped by size and type:

Small vans

Size is a crucial factor for a used van, so much so that it might be a more important consideration than the type of van you go for. Smaller vans, such as the Citroen Berlingo, have a short wheel base (SWB) and great manoeuvrability, but obviously offer less in the way of cargo capacity.  


Medium vans

Neatly bridging the gap between small vans and large vans, medium vans offer a good deal of storage space as well as a comfortable ride, not dissimilar to a normal passenger car. Camper vans, and medium panel vans, such as the Ford Transit Custom, are classified as medium vans. 


Large vans

Providing the most payload space for your buck, large vans have a long wheel base (LWB) and provide a smoother drive, thanks to the longer space between the axles. Large vans, such as Luton/box vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, are the largest vans you can drive on a standard UK drivers licence.


Pickup / 4x4

Pickup vans are easily recognisable since they have an open-air cargo bed at the back behind the cab, like the Mitsubishi L200. Also considered a truck, this type of van often comes in either two- or four-wheel drive and is popular with business and lifestyle buyers. 


Combi / crew vans

Able to transport either people and/or cargo comfortably, many combi or crew vans include stowable seats to boost cargo space further. Examples of combi vans include the Renault Trafic.   


Minibus / MPV

Great for large families, minibuses and MPVs (Multi Purpose Vehicles) have up to seven passenger seats, two of which should be able to fold flat to the floor. This type of van should offer comfort and spaciousness, as the Volkswagen Caravelle does.


Luton / box van

This type of van incorporates an enclosed body - a tall, boxy cargo bay - with a separate cab and is usually wider than a panel van. An example of a Luton van would be a Peugeot Boxer. This van type is a favourite of couriers and delivery drivers since the boxy shape makes it easier to deliver larger parcels or bulkier loads. These vans usually only have access from the rear doors and often have lifts to make loading easier as they're often higher off the ground.


Tipper / dropside van

Strictly speaking, tipper or dropside vans are a sub-type of pickup van, but with a flatbed that raises at the front to 'tip' the contents out at the back. Some tippers also enable you to tip to either side, as well as to the rear, like the Ford Transit Dropside


Camper conversion

Any van can become a campervan with the right conversion, and more and more Brits are discovering the joys of creating their own home-from-home on wheels. A couple of the most popular type of vans to convert into a campervan are the Vauxhall Vivaro and the VW Transporter.


What about cargo?

For many businesses, the cargo capacity of a commercial van is their most important consideration. We've created a handy graphic that details exactly what each of the main van types can carry, take a look at it here.

What are the other requirements for my van?

When choosing a used van, it's not always all about cargo space. Things like headroom and the number of passengers you need to transport can also have a bearing on what type of van will work best for your business.


Many vans come with three different height options, either H1, H2 or H3. H1 is the designation for standard height roofs, while H2 means that the roof height is higher than standard, and H3 means that the roof is super-high.

While all van manufacturers use these codes to identify headroom, you might come across different dimensions for the codes. Check the actual measurements of the van instead of just basing your decision on a H designation.

Number of passengers

If you're looking to transport multiple passengers with your cargo, you want to look for a double cab van instead of a regular panel van. Double cab vans include a second row of seats behind the driver's seat, much like a car, but they still have plenty of cargo space behind the second row.

If you're looking for a van that can comfortably transport five passengers, a double cab van, such as a Citroen Berlingo Crew or Ford Transit Courier Crew, could be the best choice for your business.

For a van that can hold six passengers, look for a medium van like a Citroen Dispatch Crew, Ford Transit Crew/Custom Crew, or a Peugeot Expert Crew. If you want to make sure that you can still carry all the equipment or product that you need to, focus on longer wheelbases.

If you'd like more help with choosing a used van that's perfect for you and your business, we'd be happy to help at Vanbase. We hope this blog has given you a good idea of what you're looking for and, if you visit one of our stores, we'll be able to walk you through all the models available, and the finance options we have, to find the best one for you.

You can also take a look at our listings online to see what's available before you visit.

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