Commercial vans are just as much tools as they are transportation. You may be inclined to get your search over with as quickly as possible and just go for the cheapest option, but doing your homework and investing a little extra time and money into the process can pay dividends down the road. The right van should be efficient and reliable, and configured to the specific needs of you and your business. Get this right, and it can make a big difference in your bottom line. Here we’ll outline the top cargo vans available for 2020.
It isn’t hard to see why the Transit is America’s most popular full-size cargo van. Having replaced the long-running Ford
E-series for the 2015 model year, the Transit offers a modern design with great technology and a surprising array of safety features. While it still uses a rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform, the Transit offers a more refined driving experience than the old E-series, but still offers the same degree of utility.
Several different variations of the Transit are available. There are two different wheelbases, three roof heights and three different lengths. There’s also a new crew van configuration for 2020, which combines attributes of a cargo van and passenger van thanks to a second row of seating. The Transit also gets a new base engine for 2020, and a new diesel. There’s also a new all-wheel drive (AWD) variant available. While it won’t quite turn the Transit into an off-roader, it will offer added confidence in wintry conditions, making it appealing for buyers in snowy climates.
The range-topping engine is Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, which offers impressive horsepower and torque figures, allowing you to tow up to 7,500 pounds and haul up to 4,650 pounds. Pricing for the Transit starts at under $34,000.
Generally thought of as a manufacturer of luxury vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has just as much credibility in the commercial vehicle world as it does in the passenger car world. While it’s been offered under both the Freightliner and Dodge brands here in the U.S., the full-size Sprinter sold here today is offered only as a Mercedes. And while you might be inclined to assume the Sprinter is a pseudo-luxury van, it’s actually quite mainstream, with a starting price of around $34,000 — right in line with that of the Transit.
The Sprinter was all-new for 2019 and is available in three different lengths, two wheelbases and two roof heights. A 4-cylinder gas engine and a 6-cylinder diesel are both offered. The diesel is available with AWD — otherwise the Sprinter we get here in the U.S. uses RWD.
Like the updated Transit, the Sprinter offers a healthy array of active safety and driver assistance features, plus an available 10.25-in touch screen infotainment system. Altogether, the Sprinter and Transit are the two leading full-size vans on sale in the U.S. today.
The ProMaster is a little different than the other full-size cargo vans sold in the U.S. today. Based on the European-market Fiat Ducato, the ProMaster uses front-wheel drive (FWD), which gives it better traction in snowy conditions and a more carlike driving experience than competitors from Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan
. Ram is also quick to point out that given the ProMaster’s fewer moving parts (due to its drivetrain layout), total cost of ownership is lower overall.
Thanks to its FWD layout, the ProMaster offers a best-in-class turning radius, which makes it easier to maneuver in tight urban environments. The ProMaster also has a strong value proposition, with a starting price of about $30,000 that undercuts the competition by a few thousand dollars.
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Under the hood of every ProMaster is a 3.6-liter V6 that offers a maximum payload of 4,440 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 5,100 pounds. The ProMaster comes in three wheelbases, four lengths and two roof heights, which makes it even more configurable than the Transit and Sprinter, although no AWD option is available.
The NV is the most old-school of the four full-size work vans on our list. Sharing a lot of its components with the Titan pickup, the NV comes with either a V-6 or a V-8 engine. Two roof heights are offered, but only one wheelbase. The NV comes with a segment-leading 5-year/100,000 mile warranty—two years or 64,000 miles better than that offered by its competitors from Ford, Mercedes and Ram. The NV is available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 grades. Its standard V-6 makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, while the V-8 offered in heavier-duty models puts out 317 hp and 385 lb-ft. Payload comes in at a maximum of 2,590 to 3,925 pounds, depending on configuration. Altogether, the NV is a value-oriented alternative to the three other full-size options.
Ford Transit Connect
Now in its second generation here in the U.S., the Transit Connect is a smaller alternative to the full-size Transit. The Transit Connect got an update for the 2019 model year. While a diesel engine was previously announced, Ford changed its plans before the oil-burner went on sale, and a 2.0-liter gas-powered 4-cylinder remains the only powertrain option. The engine puts out 162 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Transit Connect offers standard precollision assist with pedestrian detection, wind stabilization, a (federally mandated) backup camera and built-in 4G LTE connectivity that can be used to create a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, allowing you to use your laptop from the driver’s seat while outside of a job site (this technology is becoming ubiquitous and is also offered on the full-size Transit).
The Transit Connect Cargo Van starts at under $25,000.
Despite being built for work duty, the midsize Metris looks a lot like a traditional minivan. Some cool features are available, like a driver attention monitor and crosswind assist. The Metris comes with one engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that powers the rear wheels and makes 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This means the Metris is a little more powerful than the FWD Transit Connect, but isn’t quite as fuel efficient. The Metris offers a maximum payload capacity of 2,425 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds.
Pricing for the Metris starts at around $27,000, which approaches full-size van territory. Still, if you’re after a reasonably sized cargo van with some full-size van attributes, the Metris might be the van for you.
Ram ProMaster City
Just like the full-size ProMaster is based on a European Fiat cargo van, the ProMaster City is sold overseas as the Fiat Doblo. As a result, this van wears quirky European styling. While it isn’t as efficient or as capable as the Transit Connect with which it competes, the ProMaster City hangs its hat on offering a good value proposition. It isn’t loaded with the latest technology and features, but the ProMaster City comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 178 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. And with a starting MSRP of around $24,000, the ProMaster City is pretty competitive when it comes to price.
The most value-oriented cargo van offered in the U.S. today is the Nissan NV200. The NV200 shares its platform with the compact Nissan Sentra sedan, and therefore offers FWD, efficiency and carlike driving dynamics. Pricing is a big selling point for the NV200, as it starts at just under $24,000 and tops out at right around $26,000. Suffice to say, there aren’t many options offered on this small van. Like the bigger NV, the NV200 comes with an impressive 5-year/100,000-mile warranty, which beats the competition by two years and 64,000 miles — especially enticing if you plan to put a lot of miles on your van in a short amount of time. Under the hood is a basic 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard for 2020, and could come in handy by allowing drivers to use their favorite mapping apps when making deliveries. Altogether, while it doesn’t offer many best-in-class features, the NV200 is a simple, efficient cargo van that can be had for a reasonable price.