What’s the Best Used Van for Me?

Range of four white Volkswagen vans parked on shipping dockside with four cranes in background.Tools? Check. Crew? Check. Jobsheet? Check. Transport? Erm…

If the one thing that you’re lacking in order to complete a successful job is suitable transport, you’ve come to the right place at Autostore. But with so many different van types available, with a range of capacities and payloads, which one should you choose?

What's the Best Used Van for Me?

In many businesses, a van is just as important as the skills involved to get the job done. After all, if you can’t get your tools, materials and workers to a job, it can’t be completed. You also need it to be practical, so that you can fit in all that you need, as well as comfortable, especially if you need to travel a fair distance to your next contract.

With the best used vans acting as everything from a portable staff room and canteen, to a micro office for taking phone calls and completing paperwork, the process of buying the right work van can seem quite daunting. 

Of course, the best used vans aren’t just for business. All that work needs a little play to make it seem worthwhile, so if you’re seeking out a the best used van that’ll double up (or to be solely used) as a leisure vehicle, you’ll have a whole other list of things to consider.  Are there enough seats for family and/or friends. Can your biking/canoeing/climbing gear fit in loading space? Is there enough room in the rear for a bed on those overnight fishing trips? 

Most of the best used van models have different height and length alternatives, depending on your loading requirements while cab options catering for two, three or six people increase the choice even further. 

When buying the best used van of any size, you’ll need to consider whether it’s comfortable as well as practical. With van drivers spending seven hours or more in their driving seat every day, it’s important to test out a potential purchase to ensure it’s the right fit to help reduce back injury when driving a van

Then there’s your budget to think about. Buying a used van from Autostore allows you to keep costs down while also being assured of a quality-checked vehicle.

Since September 2015, any new diesel light van has been legally required to be Euro6 compliant, with larger vans (up to 3.5 tones) following these compulsory standards in September 2016. Choosing one of these vans will allow charge-free access to any of the UK’s clean air zones, now operating in London with plans to roll out to other cities. 

While buying a van, for whatever reason, might not seem straightforward, it’s worth making a little effort to figure it out. You’ll be rewarded with a simpler, more comfortable and convenient leisure or work life.

We’ve lined up a few of the best used van types to help you figure out which is the right van for you. Let’s get stuck in…

Used Small Panel Van / Used City Van

White Peugeot Partner van parked three-quarters facing right, next to a fence

If you don’t need masses of room for your tools or stock, a used Small Panel Van is perfect for negotiating narrow city streets while also keeping running costs down. The compact cab won’t accommodate lots of passengers, usually seating the driver and up to two companions, meaning it cold be the best used van for a small business or family of three.

Of course a great advantage of a smaller van is that it doesn’t require too much power. Most Small Panel Vans or City Vans run on a 1.6-litre engine or smaller and claim economy in the region of 60mpg.

Capacity-wise, Small Panel Vans or City Vans allow more loading space than the biggest estate cars. In fact, you’ll find more than twice as much (with the rear seats folded), plus the additional advantage of easier access and a flat loading area. Better suspension than a car also means that more weight can be safely transported in a used Small Panel Van. 

Examples of City Vans, their capacities and payloads include:

Peugeot Bipper - 2.5 cu m / 610 kg
Volkswagen Caddy - 3.2 cu m / 734 kg
Peugeot Partner - 3.7 cu m / 860 kg

Buy a used Small Panel Van at Autostore

Used Medium Panel Van / Used Box Van

White Ford Transit Custom van parked three-quarters towards right  in front  of white wall

For larger loads and more crew, you may need to look at a used Medium Panel Van or Box Van. As well as the advantages of more space and up to 6 seats, these larger models are the best used vans for side door access and a load area high enough to stand up in. 

These Medium Panel Vans usually require a bigger engine to move you, your crew and your tools or stock. 1.6-litre variations are on offer with some models, and 2.0-litre or 2.2-litre configurations are common. The most economical used Box Vans claim up to 55 mpg.

Panel Vans offer a choice of two or three lengths - short wheelbase, standard and long wheelbase; or L1 and L2 - with some also available in two different heights - H1 and H2. Single or double cab allows you to dictate the number of passengers, up to five, plus the driver.  

Examples of Panel Vans or Box Vans, their maximum capacities and payloads include:

Peugeot Expert (long) - 6.1 cu m / 1,400 kg
Vauxhall Vivaro (L2H2) - 8.6 cu m / 1,300 kg
Ford Transit Custom (L2H2) - 8.3 cu m / 1,500 kg 

Buy a used Medium Panel Van at Autostore

Used Pick-Up

White VW Amarok parked facing three-quarters right in front of other white vans.

With the options of regular cab, super cab and double cab, all highly specced, used Pick-Ups have become popular not only as a work vehicle but as leisure and family transport too. The different cab sizes make little difference to the overall length so it’s a case of trading off passenger space with load space to find the best used van for your needs.

Off-road capability sets Pick-Ups aside from other vans with 4x4 enabling them to reach places that might be inaccessible to Panel Vans. A high ground clearance and fairly good wading depth means that used Pick-Ups are able to cope with most terrains and the odd flooded road, here and there.

The most economical used Pick-Ups claim to provide around 44 mpg along with an impressive towing capability of up to 3.5 tonnes a figure you’ll struggle to match with a Panel Van.

Examples of Pick-Ups, their maximum load areas and payloads include:

Ford Ranger (single cab) - 3.6 m sq / 1,260 kg
Volkswagen Amarok - 2.5 m sq / 1,150 kg
Nissan Navara (king cab) - 2.8 m sq / 1,200 kg

Buy a used Pick-Up at Autostore

If you’re relying on a van for your livelihood, make sure it’s been checked over before you buy it. Autostore has over 50 years of motor trade expertise that’s put to good use every time we pick and check over every one of our quality used vans. Whether you choose a city van, a panel van or a pick-up, you can drive away with confidence.  Pop into your nearest Autostore showroom to try out one of our quality used vans for sale.


  • Penrith - 01768 890870
  • Lancaster - 01524 62939
  • Carlisle - 01228 522423
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