Van sizes and types: what do you need?

Date Posted 15th July 2021
Read Time 7 min read
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A casual scroll for vans on the internet shows that this hard-working vehicle comes in various packages. Not only are there plenty of different sizes to choose from, but they also come in several different shapes.

So there are plenty of choices. But which van is going to suit your needs? Can you tell your average luton from your tipper? Do you need a van that’s versatile enough to be fit for several different tasks, or do you need something for a specific use?

To give you an idea of your options and help you pick the van that’s right for you, we’ve put together a quick guide.

What should I consider when choosing a van?

First, you need to ask yourself how you’ll use the van. Do you need something multi-functional, or is there a specific need your van has to fulfil? Will you be using your van for personal or business use? Or a bit of both?

Work through our list of questions to get a clearer picture of the van you need.

What size van do you need?

Knowing what goods you’ll be transporting is one factor you need to consider when picking the size of your van. Will you also need extra passenger space? Where will you be driving your van – if you’re working in a city, a smaller vehicle will be easier to manoeuvre and park.

How much will your van need to carry?

Picking the correct payload is vital. Payload is the weight a vehicle can carry in both passengers and cargo. It’s an important question to ask yourself, as overloading your van can be both unsafe and, in some cases, illegal.

To give you an idea of weights in relation to payload, a standard bag of dry sand weighs 1330kg, a bag of cement is around 25kg, a sheet of MDF is 30kg, a tin of paint is 7kg.

How much space will you need?

Once you know the weight of what you’ll be transporting, you’ll also need to figure out the load space you’ll need too. This is the space in your van that you’ll have available to carry goods.

How frequently and how far will you be travelling?

Fuel economy is a big factor when choosing a van. Short trips in urban areas put different demands on a van than long-distance trips. If you’re city-based and make shorter journeys, an electric van can slash costs. Heavier loads with longer journeys will be better suited with diesel or petrol models.

If you’re travelling long distances, don’t forget to consider the comfort of the van too. From air conditioning to cruise control, these are the extra features that can make your job easier.

Where will you be working?

Ease of access to the load in your van is also something to think of. For example, if you’re working in narrow city streets, would dual sliding doors be helpful? Will parking be tight? If so, a smaller van might be better.

What are the different types of van?

Now you have a better idea of what you need the van for, let’s take a look at the different types of vans available  – from seating to payloads and fuel consumption to access.

Microvan/car-derived vans

Micro vans or car-derived vans are vehicles born to be cars but adapted to commercial vehicles.

Instead of traditional side rear windows, you’ll find metal panels or fixed opaque glass windows. And instead of rear seats, it has a fixed payload area with a floor. You’ll also often find them with a bulkhead between the loading area and front seats to separate the cabin.

So it looks like a van, does the work of a van, but drives like a car. This means they’re subject to the same speed limits as passenger vehicles too.

As they’re only designed to carry a maximum weight of 2.0 tonnes when fully loaded, they’re a practical, safer way to move more goods and equipment than an ordinary car.

Examples of a microvan – Fiesta Van, Vauxhall Corsavan, Ford Courier

Average load length: 1.3m
Average load height: 1.1m
Average load width: 1.0m
Payload: 581kg – 660kg
Seats: 2 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 40-50mpg

Small vans

Small vans are great if you’re looking for something versatile. If you don’t need to carry large loads, they’re practical, cheaper to insure and run. They’re equally at home nipping around town and venturing further afield.

They’re also deceptively spacious. Long enough to carry appliances, luggage and parcels. It’s also secure, with your goods out of sight.

Examples of a small van – Ford Connect, Vauxhall Combo, Fiat Doblo

Average load length: 1.7m
Average load height: 1.2m
Average load width: 1.5m
Payload: 500 – 900kg
Seats: 2 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 40-50mpg

Medium vans

A medium van is one of the most popular choices in the UK right now. It’s big and sturdy enough to deal with various uses, but it’s not much longer or wider than a large car, making it easy to manoeuvre and park.

It’s a happy blend of space and performance – the perfect solution for transporting large goods like sofas or holding bulky tools and merchandise.

Examples of medium vans – Volkswagen Transporter, Vauxhall Vivaro, Mercedes Vito

Average load length: 2.4m
Average load height: 1.5m
Average load width: 1.7m
Payload: 1200kg
Seats: 3 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 30-40mpg

Large vans

A large van pretty much does what it says on the tin. They’re built with load capacity in mind and are practical for goods delivery or house removals.

They come in many different guises – short or long wheelbase with varying capacities, so you can find one that meets your exact needs. With a side loading door, it makes for easy loading and unloading.

Examples of large vans – Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Renault Master

Average load length: 3.4m
Average load height: 1.7m
Average load width: 1.7m
Payload: 1,200 – 1,500kg
Seats: 3 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 30-35mpg

Crew van/Minibus

Ideal for transporting both people and cargo in comfort, the crew van includes stowable seats to boost your load space further.

These vans are geared more towards passengers than goods, but medium and large vans can all be converted to fit more seats, meaning there is still enough room to carry ample equipment in the boot or extend the space by removing seats.

Examples of crew vans – Citroen Dispatch, Renault Trafic, Peugeot Expert

Average load length: 1.5m
Average load height: 1.2m
Average load width: 1.4m
Payload: 500-600kg
Seats: 6 – 8 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 50-60mpg

Pick-up Trucks

Modern pick-ups are multi-functional vehicles that have become increasingly popular with families over the years. They fulfil the needs of those who need something to carry and tow heavy loads such as caravans, tackle rugged terrain and provide comfort at the same time.

They’re popular with businesses, as when they have a payload of at least one tonne and are classed as Light Commercial Vehicles, drivers can reduce their Benefit-in-Kind tax.

Examples of pick-ups – Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux

Average load length: 1.5m
Average load height: 511m
Average load width: 1.5m
Payload: 1,000 – 1,500kg
Seats: 5 (double cab, including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 32-40mpg

Tipper / Dropside van

A tipper or dropside van is more of a vehicle for a specific use. Useful for carrying loose items – sand, cement, soil, branches, scrap and so on. As the name suggests, tipper vans have a flatbed with a tipping function, making substances or items such as these easier to remove. Dropsides are also easier to access, but rather than tip, the sideboards can fold down, giving you direct access to the load area.

They transport more awkward loads with a very spacious load capacity and are popular in the construction and landscaping industries. In addition, they’re available in single or crew cab, meaning you can carry up to six passengers.

Examples of tipper/dropside vans – Volkswagen Crafter, Peugeot Boxer, Vauxhall Movano

Average load length: 3m
Average load height: 1.2m
Average load width: 2m
Payload: 1,500kg
Seats: 6 (including driver with a double cab)
Typical fuel consumption: 20 – 30mpg

Luton van

The Luton van is the giant of the van family. With a long wheelbase, they’re ideal for large, heavy loads.

With an enclosed boxed body that extends over the cab giving extra storage space, they have a high volume capacity. Typically, lutons have hydraulic tail lifts making the loading and unloading of heavy, bulky goods easier.

Examples of a Luton van – Renault Master, Citroen Relay, Peugeot Boxer Luton

Average load length: 4m
Average load height: 2.2m
Average load width: 2m
Payload: 1,200 – 1,600kg
Seats: 3 (including driver)
Typical fuel consumption: 35-40mpg

Still not sure or have questions? We can help. Call Hippo on 01254 956 666 and speak to one of our expert team members who can help find the right van for you and your business. Alternatively, you can apply online now, with no impact to your credit score – and a decision in minutes.