WHAT do you do if you regularly carry a team of workers around with all their gear? You run a taxi business or you want the practicality of a van, but regularly have to carry the family?
A crew van is obviously the answer and there is a good amount of choice out there. Why a crew van? Well it has up to six seats, rather than the usual three of a standard van. Okay, these extra seats do eat into the load area of the van, but most crew vans’ load areas are still big enough to be practical for multi-purpose use.
Volkswagen’s Transporter Kombi
While there are many vans in this segment, none, the Transit apart, can claim cult status among private owners thanks to successive generations of the camper conversions.
Volkswagen’s Transporter Kombi is best-described as part-van and part-people carrier. It’s based on the company’s commercial vehicle, retaining sliding side doors and large rear opening, but has the interior fittings of a car.
For the business user, however, this is a very practical and spacious load-carrier, available in multiple sizes as a van, and comes in a variety of alternate body styles including the Transporter Kombi double cab, the Caravelle MPV and Shuttle minibus models.
The VW Startline is the entry-level trim, and standard equipment for the model includes electric mirrors and windows, multi-adjustable driver’s seat, dual passenger seat, a 5-inch touchscreen DAB radio with Bluetooth, and a comprehensive list of safety tech including Brake Assist, Post Collision Braking.
VW continues to offer Transporter in two wheelbases, with three roof heights and two seating combinations, delivering load volumes of 5.8 to 9.3m3 and payloads of up to 1,217kg.
Citroen Dispatch Crew Van/Peugeot Expert Crew Van
Citroen and Peugeot released the all but identical new Dispatch and Expert ranges in 2016. Both the models are available in two versions, standard and long-wheelbase, with 1,342 and 1,196kg payloads. Only available with the 2.0-litre BlueHDi120 diesel engine, average economy is 50.4mpg. Both the Citroen and Peugeot Crew vans can be specified with a folding bulkhead for improved versatility.
Ford Transit Custom Double-Cab-in-Van
On top of the car-like drive, high-levels of standard kit and newly released Ecoblue diesel engines and automatic transmission, are the key reasons to choose the latest Transit Custom. There’s the choice of short – or long-wheelbase standard roof versions with 105, 130 or 170PS versions of those new Ecoblue engines.
There’s up to 8,100 litres of loadspace in this Transit, despite the extra bench seat in the back. The impressive load area doesn’t mean legroom is tight, as there’s almost MPV-like levels of rear space. We also like the rear privacy glass, which reduces the glare and gives back seat passengers some privacy. Only downside is it’s expensive!
Mercedes Vito Crew Van
The latest Vito in Crew Van form is hugely practical with up to 4,100 litres of loadspace available from three different versions (Compact, Long and Extra Long), plus room for five passengers.
Apart from the practicality, the new Vito appeals because it looks smart and modern, has impressive engine refinement from the choice of five-different CDI diesel engines. Plus handling and levels of safety kit, which are closer to a modern car than a van and there’s a smart-look Sport model. There are plenty of options to make the Vito truly your own, but the standard equipment is miserly considering the price.
Nissan NV300 Crew Van
This recently-launched Nissan might be based on the Renault Traffic and Vauxhall Vivaro vans (and are also on this list!). However, on top of the refined drive, advanced safety features and composed ride, it offers an impressive five-year 100,000-mile warranty, that the others can’t match.
Twin sliding doors make getting to those three rear seats easy and there’s still a practical 4,000-litre load area. Thankfully, a solid bulkhead will keep it away from passengers too.
Renault Trafic Crew Van
Renault’s Trafic continues to be a major player in the mid-size van market and rightly so with its economical engines and refined car-like drive. In Crew Van form, access to those three rear seats is easy with the twin sliding doors, plus there’s a full rear bulkhead to keep loads in the 4,000-litre load area away from passengers. The Renault adds the extra security of X-Track all-wheel drive.
Vauxhall Vivaro Doublecab
The Vivaro is more car-like to drive than most of the vans on this list, with refined engines and a comfortable ride. However, this Vauxhall is well thought out, as despite that extra set of seats and bulkhead – there’s still plenty of practical, usable space in the back. The exterior styling of the Vivaro might be more evolution than revolution, but the Vauxhall still looks smart and modern when compared with rivals.