Good economy can help reduce business costs – these are the most economical vans and commercials for sale in six classes
If you have a van to run then fuel economy will have an impact on your financial outgoings. Diesel prices aren’t as cheap as they once were – it used to be the case that diesel was less than petrol, but that hasn’t been the case for a number of years now. So we’ve looked at the spec sheets and official figures to list the vans, pick-up trucks and commercial 4x4s that deliver the best fuel economy.
The likelihood of being able to match these figures in the real world is entirely dependent on driving style, the payload on board, and even the weather (some stop-start equipped models won’t operate as efficiently in cold weather, for example). But with a switch to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) to record fuel economy figures, you’re more likely to achieve these figures in the real world.
Of more importance is that all of the combined WLTP fuel economy figures we’ve listed here are produced in a controlled environment, so they can be directly compared with each other to find the most economical vans for sale.
We’ve split these commercial vehicles into five different categories: small vans, mid-sized panel vans, large panel vans, pick-up trucks and commercial SUVs. We’ve highlighted the most economical models in each category, and named the variants with the best and worst quoted MPG figures to give an idea of the range of economy figures available.
Of course if you pile on the extra kit, such as an extended wheelbase, 4WD, a ply lining, tonneau cover, high roof or complete body conversion, then economy will be affected by the added weight of these options. The same goes for crew vans and passenger vans, because the extra weight of their additional seats and safety kit will have an adverse effect on economy, too.
The following vans are the most economical you can buy, so choose wisely and you’ll be quids-in with the savings you make.
Most economical small vans
Ford Transit Courier
- Best: 1.5 Ecoblue (75PS or 100PS) diesel – 65.7mpg
- Worst: 1.0 EcoBoost (100PS) petrol – 57.6mpg
- Best: 1.3 Multijet (80hp or 95hp) Panel Van – 62.8mpg
- Worst: 1.3 Multijet (80hp or 95hp) Crew Van – 57.6mpg
Ford Transit Connect
- Best: 1.5 Ecoblue (75PS or 100PS) diesel – 62.8mpg
- Worst: 1.0 EcoBoost (100PS) petrol – 45.6mpg
The smallest model in the Ford Transit range is also the most economical in this sector. The Transit Courier is capable of 65.7mpg with the latest 1.5 Ecoblue diesel fitted, while the Transit is one of the few vans offered with petrol power. While the EcoBoost turbo three-cylinder has claimed economy of 57.6mpg, real-world economy is likely to struggle to match that.
Like the Transit Courier, the Fiat Fiorino is at the compact end of the small van sector, which is why it’s so economical. Both diesel engines offer the same quoted WLTP combined fuel economy, while the only penalty you’ll receive is if you go for the Crew Van variant, because there’s no auto gearbox or longer body styles to choose from.
The Transit Connect does come in a variety of guises, but it’s the same engines as the Transit Courier that offer the best fuel economy. This is in lower-spec Leader and Trend trims – go for a higher spec Sport, Limited or Active variant, and official economy drops, but not significantly.
Other models to consider in this sector are the Citroen Berlingo Van, Peugeot Partner, Vauxhall Combo Cargo and Toyota Proace City. These are all largely identical and offer a great mix of low running costs and good payload weights and cargo volumes.
Most economical mid-sized panel vans
- Best (and worst): VN5 – 314mpg
Ford Transit Custom
- Best: 1.0 EcoBoost (125PS) PHEV – 104.6mpg
- Worst: 2.0 Ecoblue (130PS/170PS/185PS) auto – 44.8mpg
- Best: 1.5 Turbo D 120 – 47.0mpg
- Worst: 2.0 Turbo D 180 auto – 35.3mpg
The mid-sized panel van has seen a shake-up in terms of fuel economy, thanks to the arrival of two plug-in hybrid models in the shape of the LEVC VN5 and Ford Transit Custom PHEV. The VN5 is based on the TX taxi, but with a panel van body behind the cockpit instead of multiple seats. LEVC quotes 314mpg, although this is a result of the way the WLTP test is conducted, and won’t reflect on the kind of fuel economy you’ll expect in the real world.
It’s a similar story for the Transit Custom PHEV, because both models will rely on you plugging them in to charge up the battery as often as possible, so that they run on electric power alone for as long as possible. If you do end up using their respective petrol engines for power, you can expect to see fuel economy drop.
For the best diesel fuel economy, then the Vauxhall Vivaro is a great option. It records 47.0mpg in its most economical form, which puts it slightly ahead of the similar Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace.
Beyond these, the Mercedes Vito is pretty economical. Intriguingly it’s most efficient version is a mid-spec rear-wheel-drive variant that returns up to 39.8mpg, while the Renault Trafic offers the same best economy figure as the Merc and has a generous cargo volume.
Most economical large panel vans
- Best: 2.3 dCi (150) L1H1 – 48.7mpg
- Worst: 2.3 dCi (150) auto L3H2 – 39.2mpg
- Best: 2.0 Ecoblue (130) mHEV – 47.1mpg
- Worst: 2.0 Ecoblue (130) 4WD – 29.7mpg
- Best: Multijet (120 & 140) SH1 – 43.4mpg
- Worst: Multijet (180) LH3 – 38.7mpg
Nissan leads the way in the large panel van sector, with stop-start boosting the NV400 ahead of rivals. A return of 48.7mpg is impressive for such a large van, although it’ll be worth checking the maximum payload this engine can haul, because it might be compromised.
Ford’s latest Ecoblue diesel boosts the Transit for efficiency, while mHEV mild-hybrid tech improves it further still. At the other end of the spectrum, four-wheel drive is great to have if you do plenty of off-road work, but the penalty is sub-30mpg fuel economy.
The Fiat Ducato does well thanks to its impressive Multijet diesel, although like the rest of its large van rivals, going for a larger body has a negative impact on fuel economy. The Volkswagen Crafter offers a great mix of economy, tech and cargo carrying ability – as long as you avoid the rear-drive model at a shocking 19.4mpg, while vans from Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall are showing their age with sub-40mpg official economy figures.
Most economical pick-up trucks
- Best: 2.0 Ecoblue 170PS – 40.9mpg
- Worst: 2.0 Ecoblue 210PS auto Raptor – 31.7mpg
- Best: 1.9D (164) manual – 40.4mpg
- Worst: 1.9D (164) auto – 36.2mpg
- Best: 2.3 dCi (163PS or 190PS) – 40.4mpg
- Worst: 2.3 dCi (190PS) auto – 38.2mpg
There are three pick-up trucks for sale that break the 40mpg barrier in the WLTP tests. Leading the pack is the recently updated Ford Ranger, which is our current pick-up class favourite. The 2.0 Ecoblue diesel is the same as the one you’ll find in the Transit, and it records a best MPG figure of 40.9mpg in lower powered 170PS guise. Go for the top-spec Ranger Raptor, and the combination of a 10-speed auto box, a 213PS diesel and a shorter rear axle ratio count against it.
Another truck that benefitted from a new engine is the Isuzu D-Max. It gained a smaller 1.9-litre diesel that was more efficient than the old 2.5-litre four-cylinder, but delivers the same pulling power and performance. Even better is the fact that Isuzu’s quoted WLTP fuel economy figures apply to the whole range, including the monster Arctic Trucks AT35 variant.
The Nissan Navara offers the same fuel economy as the D-Max in manual gearbox guise, while the auto model is slightly more economical. Again, the Navara’s fuel economy remains largely unchanged irrespective of the trim you go for.
Most economical commercial SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial
- Best (and worst): 2.4 PHEV auto – 139.7mpg
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial
- Best (and worst): 2.4 DI-D – 32.8mpg
Land Rover Defender Hard Top
- Best: D200 – 32.5mpg
- Worst: P300 – 24.5mpg
Commercial 4x4s are a pretty niche area of the market, and if you want the best efficiency, then the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the model to go for. Like the plug-in medium-sized vans from LEVC and Ford, fuel economy you’ll get will entirely depend on how often you plug the Outlander in, but if you do take the plunge, the PHEV is a comfortable and refined commercial vehicle, thanks to its SUV-derived front cab, while the large flat load area is useful for plenty of long items.
The Shogun Sport also offers a similar level of luxury and cargo space, while the Defender Hard Top is the 2-seat alternative to our best medium-sized SUV award winner.
Elsewhere, we like the Toyota Land Cruiser Utility Commercial, while the Suzuki Jimny Commercial is on the way, too. These will fill the slots vacated by the Mitsubishis once the company leaves the UK market.
Find out about the best cheap van deals around right now on our sister site Buyacar
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