Cargo vans don’t get a lot of publicity like the newest trucks, SUVs and sports cars do. This makes it hard to know what to look for when picking the right van for your business. Here we’ve laid out each of the commercial vans currently on the market and outlined some of the key features of each, hopefully making your decision a little easier when it comes time to update your fleet.
The list below breaks the U.S. cargo-van market into two segments — full-size and compact — and covers each of the major commercial vans offered in the United States. While out-the-door cost will be a major factor in deciding which is right for you, we should point out that the vans from Ford and Mercedes represent the most modernized offerings of the bunch, while the Ram ProMaster is unique due to its front-wheel-drive platform, allowing for a great blend of size and maneuverability.
Best Cargo Vans of 2018
The Ford Transit was first sold in the U.S. for the 2015 model year as a replacement for the ancient Econoline van. The Transit offers three roof heights — low, medium and high, with the high-roof version offering 81.5 inches of standing height and three overall lengths: 220- and 240-inch models, both of which ride on a 130-in wheelbase, and a 263.9-in model, which rides on an extended 148-in wheelbase.
The Transit offers three engine choices. The base engine is a 3.7-liter V6 making 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Another gas engine is available in the form of a more advanced 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 making 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque and achieving better fuel economy than the non-EcoBoost V6. Finally, a 3.2-liter 5-cylinder PowerStroke diesel option is offered, making 185 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, allowing for a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. Different trim levels offer different capabilities; max payload is 4,650 pounds when properly equipped.
Reasons to choose the Transit include its class-leading interior standing room and the prevalence of Ford dealerships throughout the country, which will help quickly remedy warranty issues and maintenance, getting you back on the road as soon as possible. Find a Ford Transit for sale
Sold in the U.S. as both a Freightliner and a Mercedes-Benz model, the Sprinter has been a leader among heavy-duty vans in the U.S. since it first went on sale here in 2001. Two wheelbases, three lengths and low and high roof heights are offered. In its smallest configuration, the Sprinter has an interior cargo length of 137 inches; in its longest form, this figure stretches to 194 inches. Max towing and payload capacity of the smallest model are 7,500 and 4,519 pounds, respectively, while the long-wheelbase Sprinter is able to haul up to 5,243 pounds. The Sprinter offers buyers a number of possible configurations, including both gas and diesel engines, along with a 4×4 variant that makes the Sprinter the only cargo van in the U.S. to offer 4-wheel traction from the factory. While the Sprinter sets the standard for cargo vans in a lot of ways, it’s also the most expensive, with a starting price of close to $40,000.
Mercedes has introduced an all-new 2019 Sprinter set to go on sale sometime toward the end of 2018. This new model offers all the same capabilities of the old Sprinter, but now with a modernized cockpit offering a slew of driver safety features that will help keep the Sprinter feeling new for years to come. Find a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for sale
The ProMaster is available in three basic levels of capability: 1500, 2500 and 3500. Unlike competitors from Ford and Mercedes-Benz, the ProMaster is front-wheel-drive, which allows for best-in-class figures with regard to turning radius and cargo space between the rear wheel wells, but also results in a lower maximum towing and payload capacity, with figures of 5,100 and 4,440 pounds, respectively — below those of the Transit and Sprinter.
The ProMaster comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine making 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A diesel was previously offered, but its status is up in the air at the time of this writing. Three wheelbases, four overall lengths and two roof heights are offered. The smallest option sits upon a 118-in wheelbase and offers a 105-in load floor length; the largest offers a 160-in load floor on a 159-in wheelbase. Opting for the high roof on any model means a standing roof height of 76 inches.
Overall, the ProMaster is a great option for anyone needing a large cargo van, but without the heavy-duty capabilities of the Transit, Sprinter or Nissan NV, as the ProMaster forgoes some of these capabilities in the interests of efficiency and maneuverability. Find a Ram ProMaster for sale
Targeted at private users, the NV shares engines and other components with the Titan full-size pickup, offering an optional V8 engine and two roof heights, but only one length. One way the NV sets itself apart is through a 5-year/100,000 mile warranty, besting the warranties offered by its competitors by two years and 64,000 miles. The NV offers a great value when it comes to price as well, undercutting the starting price of competitors like the Sprinter and Transit by several thousand dollars. There are 1500, 2500 and 3500 grades available, along with two engines; a V6 making 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, and a V8 reserved for heavier-duty models and making 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Payload capacity is between 2,590 and 3,925 pounds, while overall interior cargo volume sits at 234 cu ft. with the standard roof and 323 cu ft. with the high roof. The high roof offers 76.9 inches of interior standing room. Find a Nissan NV for sale
The Transit Connect is Ford’s smaller cargo van, intended to serve in urban areas and in other applications where only a light-duty vehicle is necessary. The second-generation Transit Connect went on sale in 2015 and receives a major update for the coming 2019 model year.
The Transit Connect offers two wheelbases: a 105-in model for more maneuverability and a 121-in model for added cargo room. Under the hood of the 2018 model is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 169 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, good for an estimated 23 miles per gallon in combined driving. Towing and payload capacity of the Transit Connect are 2,000 and 1,610 pounds, respectively.
The 2019 model year will bring about a number of modernizing changes, including a refined interior, driver-assistance features, the latest infotainment system and a new engine and transmission lineup. Buyers will have their choice of an even more efficient 2.0-liter 4-cylindergasoline engine or a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel, both mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Find a Ford Transit Connect for sale
Competing in the compact cargo-van segment, the Metris is available in both 126- and 135-in wheelbases. The sole powertrain option is a turbocharged 4-cylinder mill making 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque mated to a 7-speed automatic. Payload sits at 2,447 pounds, and towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. The Metris also offers a modern slew of driver safety features. Cargo volume for the short wheelbase is 183 cu ft., while the long-wheelbase model stretches that figure to 199 cu ft. Find a Mercedes-Benz Metris for sale
Designed for urban runabout duties, the ProMaster City is an alternative to the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200. It offers one engine — a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 178 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and good for a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds and a max payload of 1,886 pounds. One length is offered, with a max cargo capacity of 132 cu ft. Find a Ram ProMaster City for sale
The NV200 is a compact cargo van akin to the Ford Transit Connect and Ram ProMaster City. It offers a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 131 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque mated to a continuously variable transmission. One bodystyle is available, offering 122.7 cu ft. of cargo room. On sale since 2010, the NV isn’t the most modern compact cargo van on the market, but it does undercut the price of the competition by a few thousand dollars, and it offers a better warranty than any of its competitors, making it a viable option for a budget-conscious shopper. Find a Nissan NV200 for sale