Running a fleet of vans can be an expensive business. While drivers and fuel are among the biggest ongoing cost factors, the purchase of the vehicle itself will always play a major part in the total cost of ownership equation.
For many companies, working locally with low annual mileages, the used van market continues to offer big savings over new metal. With the new van market booming, there has finally been a steady flow of good used LCVs into auction rooms and onto used van forecourts too.
Don’t expect massive bargains however, as used vans are in high demand. While there are more fleet and ex-lease vans coming to the market, high quality one-owner LCVs, particularly those with a good specification, remain in short supply.
Ford Transit Custom – Used Van of the Year
- Our pick: 2.2 TDCi 125 L1H1 Limited (2016/16, 41k miles, £15,500)
For most people looking for a used van, a medium-sized model should fit the bill, because it offers the best balance between size and carrying capacity. Mid-size vans are wide enough to be manageable on urban streets, yet still have the cargo capacity to meet most needs. And if you are going for one of these models, the best in the business is the Ford Transit Custom.
The Transit’s popularity (it regularly vies with the Fiesta and Focus for the title of Ford’s best-seller) means there’s an abundance to choose from on the used market. Prices start from as little as £5,000, although as with most vehicles we’d spend a little more to get something that hasn’t done an astronomical mileage or had a punishing life.
There was a refresh in 2016, so there’s a natural drop in second-hand values on pre-facelift models, and we’d opt for a late-2015 van for the best value. You have a choice of two body lengths and two roof heights, or there’s the versatile Double Cab In-Van variant that can also be used as family transport. Keep an eye out for vans that have clearly been well cared for, while examples with added security or that have been fitted out with racking in the cargo area could be worth paying extra for.
Diesel power is the order of the day. We’d seek out a 125bhp 2.2 TDCi, because this is a proven unit. The later 2.0 EcoBlue is a good performer, but early examples had teething troubles, which may or may not have been remedied on the van you’re looking at.
You’ll know how luxurious you want your van, although basic is usually best – but there are well equipped Limited and racy-looking Sport models available with some added style. If you want an alternative to diesel but can’t make an electric van work for your individual situation, a budget of around £28k will secure a Transit Custom PHEV. This has an electric range of roughly 30 miles, while an EcoBoost petrol engine acts as a generator when the battery is flat.
See the latest Ford Transit Custom prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
Renault Trafic (2016) – Commended
If you’re looking for a spacious, no-nonsense panel van, the Trafic ticks a lot of boxes. There are plenty of models about, and Renault marketed various special editions with more kit. As with the Transit Custom, there are two lengths and two roof heights, and the big, square cargo area offers plenty of usable space. While a 1.6 dCi might seem small, the 138bhp twin-turbo version packs a surprising punch.
See the latest Renault Trafic prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
Nissan e-NV200 (2014) – Left-field choice
Before you switch to an electric van, make a record of your daily mileage to see whether it can fit in with your working life. Cover fewer than 124 miles? The e-NV200 is worth considering. This is the van’s minimum claimed range, and the Nissan has the class’s biggest cargo space. Used prices start from about £12,000, but ensure the van you’re looking at comes with a battery, rather than a pricey hire scheme.
Find out more about the best used cars you can buy in each market sector with our Used Car Awards…