In terms of bodystyles, there aren’t as many options as you’d find in the larger medium van sector, but there’s still plenty of variation. Most small vans come in at least two body lengths, but high roof variants are less common, while conversions are virtually non-existent. Crew Vans usually feature a basic folding bulkhead with an integrated second row of seats. These are designed for work transport rather than being considered an alternative to an MPV, because the sliding side doors will usually only have glass if you add it as an option. Besides, the leading lights in the small van class are available as MPVs, which are far more suited to family life.

The vast majority of small vans are front-wheel drive, although some vans and commercial vehicles have the option of off-road packages that add switchable traction control and all-season tyres that provide extra traction. If you want four-wheel drive, then you have the option of a commercial 4×4. These are based on SUVs, but have their windows blacked out, all the back seats stripped out and a long, flat load area put in their place. These models are an interesting stop-gap between a small van and a pick-up truck, because they offer nearly as much cargo volume and security as a small van, but with the off-road ability of a pick-up truck, if not the payload capacity.

Diesel is the most common fuel choice for small vans. There are a handful of petrol-engined small vans available, but there are just as many electric versions on offer these days, which are ideal for short urban delivery routes, zero-emissions running and last mile transport. They often have enough driving range for a day’s work at low speeds, while the Government’s £2,500 Plug-in Van Grant applies to vans which meet the relevant criteria. Some small vans are also being offered with plug-in hybrid powertrains, too.

Today’s small vans deliver a driving experience that will be a surprise to most. Vans such as the Ford Transit Connect and Vauxhall Combo are surprisingly agile and if driving dynamics really matter then car-based vans like the Corolla Commercial are ideal candidates. The level of kit on board is also starting to match passenger cars, including safety gear, with assorted cameras, lane assist functions and automatic emergency braking on offer, although usually as an option.

Need a bit more cargo space? These are the best medium-sized vans to buy

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