Bite-Sized LCV Reviews: Every large van model we've road-tested

Date: Monday, June 17, 2019

Looking to buy a large van? Then read our handy, quick road test reviews of the models in the market before making your next buying decision.

Relay 4

Citroen Relay

A Euro6 2.0-litre turbodiesel Blue HDi unit with outputs of 110hp, 130hp or 160hp powers the Relay.

We tested a 35 L3H2 Enterprise with the 160hp drivetrain and found that on the open road the engine comes into its own, making it ideal for intercity assignments, while for a big van the Relay takes corners confidently even when pushed hard. The six-speed manual gearbox is slick too, and low gearing offers plenty of pull around town.

The van is available in four lengths, three wheelbases and three heights, with load volumes ranging from 8.0m3 to 17.0m3. The fully ply-lined load bay is accessed via a sliding door on the nearside and twin rear doors.

The cabin does not lack functionality, providing a multitude of storage options, while satnav and DAB come as standard. However, the driving position is less car-like than the likes of the Ford Transit, VW Crafter or Renault Master, the quality of the dash plastic leaves much to be desired, legroom is severely restricted for the middle passenger, and the position of the handbrake to the right of the driver can best be described as ‘quirky’.

Sample model:  35 Enterprise L3H2

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     1,325kg
Load volume    13.0m3
Combined mpg 45.6mpg
CO2    163g/km
Price (ex VAT) £28,781

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Fiat Ducato MT Awards

Fiat Professional Ducato

The Ducato looks very similar to the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer thanks to a joint-venture with PSA Group.

Yet there is a key difference under the bonnet: while the latter use a 2.0-litre diesel, the Ducato employs Fiat’s own and more powerful 2.3-litre Multijet II, plus a Fiat 2.0-litre diesel. The 2.3 offers ample performance, especially on the motorway.

The van is available with three wheelbases and three heights. Load cubes range from 8.0m3 to 17.0m3, while payloads run from 1,000kg to 2,100kg.

The quality of the cab’s plastic trim could be better, while the 5.0in colour touchscreen really needs to measure 7.0in for navigating. On the positive side, cab access is easy and there is no lack of storage space.

Better still, the handling is a revelation, the suspension ensures you are well planted, and the steering tells you exactly what is happening. The ride is acceptable, as is the level of noise suppression in the cab. However, while the six-speed manual gearbox usually poses no problems, the shift from fifth to sixth and back again is notchy at times.

Sample model: 2.3JTD Multijet11 MH2

Engine size    2.3-litre
Payload     1,375kg
Load volume    11.5m3
Combined mpg 44.8mpg
CO2    166g/km
Price (ex VAT) £27,865

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Ford _Transit _Background Blue Van

Ford Transit

In August 2016, the fifth generation of the Transit acquired new Euro6 engines.

Power outputs were raised and torque ramped up over the previous engines. Ford claims that with optional stop/start CO2 can begin at 174g/km with consumption at 42.2mpg – 10% better than the previous model.

Cabin noise is kept well under control by acoustic improvements to the engine.

The LCV comes with front- or rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is also available, as is a six-speed auto transmission for FWD models. There are still two trim levels, Base and Trend, with the 105hp Ecoblue engine only offered in the former.

Meanwhile, entry-level safety kit was notably ramped up, with upgraded electronic stability control (ESC), plus all Euro6 vans get Side Wind Stabilisation. All models also come with Ford’s Curve Control programme, which slows down the van if it enters a bend too quickly, and Roll Stability Control, which stops the vehicle from rolling over. The large Ford Transit is class-leading for drivability, with precise steering wedded to a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

Sample model: 310 2.0TDCI L3H2

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     989kg
Load volume    11.5m3
Combined mpg 42.2mpg
CO2    174g/km
Price (ex VAT) £31,370

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New Daily _VAN (27) 3

Iveco Daily

Iveco’s Euro6 version of its 3.5t Daily van is available with a choice of 2.3- and 3.0-litre diesel powertrains with outputs ranging from 120hp to 210hp.

The firm offers both exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to comply with the emissions standard, with most manufacturers plumping just for SCR, which requires topping up with AdBlue. Iveco says the EGR engine has 8% lower fuel consumption than the Euro5 unit while the SCR version is a further 2% more frugal. The 3.0-litre is offered exclusively with SCR.

Customers can chose either a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto Himatic transmission, although the 3.0 150hp is manual-only while the 3.0-litre 210 is exclusively Himatic.

We tried the 3.0 180hp engine with the Himatic, which Iveco claims can deliver repair and maintenance savings of up to 10% compared with manual models. The auto system shifted seamlessly and worked reassuringly well in combination with precise steering. With half the 1,420kg payload used the ride was sure-footed with no stomach-turning roll.

Sample model: 3.0 Himatic

Engine size    3.0-litre
Payload     1,420kg
Load volume    10.8m3
Combined mpg 38.8mpg
CO2    182g/km
Price (ex VAT) £29,180

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MAN TGE 4

MAN TGE

The TGE went on sale in September 2017 and is the first van from bus/truck maker MAN.

It is a restyled version of VW’s Crafter, and is available in front-wheel drive as well as rear- and all-wheel drive models. It is also offered with manual or auto transmissions, and as core tipper, dropside and Luton conversions, as well as in van, chassis cab and chassis double-cab variants.

Power comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with four power outputs. Gross weights range from 3.0t to 5.5t.

It is in servicing proposition and support where MAN hopes to beat its rivals. Through its HGV network it claims to be able to offer 65 service points nationwide that are open for 16 and a half hours a day, six days a week, while MAN provides extended opening hours and around-the-clock, 365 days per year mobile 24-hour roadside assistance.

On the road the van handles well, with the steering tightening up nicely at speed. As for the cabin, it is full of robust-looking materials and practical storage spaces and solutions. Legroom for the passenger in the centre isn’t bad either.

Sample model: 3.140 2.0TDI Standard H/roof

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     1,323kg
Load volume    11.3m3
Combined mpg 38.2mpg
CO2    194g/km
Price (ex VAT) £24,734

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Merc Sprinter 4

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Sprinter is easy and car-like to drive, with light and accurate steering and an impressive ride, while the 2.1-litre engine in the 314 CDI model we tested propels the van along comfortably with a half-load on board and the standard six-speed manual gearbox allowed us to shift between speeds quickly and precisely.

Front-, rear- and all-wheel drive versions are available, as are a host of advanced safety features as standard.

The interior feels well put together. There are lots of cubbyholes, while the seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment. All-round visibility was good.

Operators can benefit from the Pro Connect fleet management features, such as Maintenance Management and Digital Driver’s Log. The internet connection used to run these services can also be used as a hotspot for mobile devices.

Also available is the MBUX infotainment system, which comes with a 7.0in touchscreen as standard. Merc claims it is self-learning, so picks up the driver’s routines and automatically presents their favourite features. It has voice-recognition that responds to simple requests too, like Apple’s Siri smartphone system.

Sample model: 314 2.1CDI MWB H/roof

Engine size    2.1-litre
Payload     1,285kg
Load volume    10.5m3
Combined mpg 36.2mpg
CO2    204g/km
Price (ex VAT) £32,240

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4NV400

Nissan NV400

The NV400 is available in front-wheel drive from 2.8-3.5t and in rear-wheel drive from 3.5-4.5t, and in three different wheelbases, four lengths and three heights.

Load volumes range from 8.0m3 to 17m3, and crew vans, tippers, dropsides and box-bodied chassis cabs are available.

Power comes from a 2.3-litre dCi Euro5 diesel engine developing 100hp, 125hp or 150hp. It is up for grabs with either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed semi-auto.

There are two trims: entry-level E and SE, with the latter featuring a high level of equipment.
Usefully manoeuvrable at low speeds, one of the front-wheel drive NV400’s biggest plus-points is its handling, and ample feedback through the steering allows you to push hard along twisting B-roads.

The 125hp unit is no sluggard on the motorway either, and once you get the hang of the semi-auto shift it is smooth.

We had few quarrels with the ride bar some bumping and thumping from the suspension, but we were concerned about the amount of rattling and creaking generated by the body. However, noise levels inside the cab are well suppressed.

Sample model: F35.15 L3H2

Engine size 2.3-litre
2.3-litre
1,530kg
Load volume
13.0m3
Combined mpg
35.8mpg
CO2 
207g/km
Price (ex VAT)
£25,495

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Boxer ---obscure -reg -plate -please

Peugeot Boxer

Peugeot’s Boxer was last facelifted in 2014, although the manufacturer completed the roll-out of Euro6 engines into its van line-up when the big model was given the tech in September 2016.

This LCV is offered with a choice of four lengths and three roof heights, and is available in Standard and Professional trim levels.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range.

The Boxer feels rugged and unrefined in comparison to rivals such as the Ford Transit, Volkwsagen Crafter, Iveco Daily and Fiat Professional Ducato.

It remains an out-and-out commercial vehicle rather than a van with car-like pretensions.

Also, oddly, the handbrake is positioned to the right of the driver, between the seat and the door, and the amount of in-cab road noise can be irritating.

The interior trim around the doors also looks as though it’s been stuck on rather than part of an integrated design.

The Boxer is impressively frugal and delivers a competent ride, but unfortunately lacks the refinement of more recently launched heavy vans in what is a hugely competitive sector of the market.

Sample model: Blue HDi L3H2

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     1.325kg
Load volume    13.0m3
Combined mpg 45.6mpg
CO2    163g/km
Price (ex VAT) £27,622

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4_Renault Master

Renault Master

With three lengths, three roof heights, front- or rear-wheel drive, five 2.3-litre diesel engines and a wide range of conversions, there’s no lack of choice where the Master is concerned.

There are also two trim levels, Business and Business+, and the entry-level gets rake-adjustable steering, ESC with hill-start assist and the Grip Xtend traction control system, plus DAB radio with USB connectivity and Bluetooth.

All engines are mated to six-speed manual or Quickshift6 transmissions. The twin-turbo Energy dCi 165hp, which we tested in FWD LM35 LWB, medium roof, Business+ form, offers precise steering, and the six-speeder is reliably crisp.

The cabin boasts a plentiful 150 litres of storage room. Much of this is accounted for by the space beneath the passenger seats, which isn’t compartmentalised. The overhead shelf, however, is split into two with a tachograph holder in the middle. Pulling down the middle seat back, meanwhile, reveals a desk with a swivelling table.

Finally, an electric version, the Z.E., went on sale in the last quarter of 2018.

Sample model: LH35 2.3dCi Business

Engine size   2.3-litre
Payload. 1,445kg
Load volume  14.8m3
Combined mpg  35.8mpg
CO2. 207g/km
Price (ex VAT) £31,350

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4new Pic _Movano 1

Vauxhall Movano

The Movano is sold with one level of specification, which includes a driver’s airbag, two in-cab 12V power points, remote audio controls on the steering column and plenty of storage options.

Electric windows and electrically adjustable and heated mirrors come as standard too, and the back of the middle seat folds down and turns into a desk.

Vauxhall deserves particular praise for adding a mirror in the passenger sun visor that enables the driver to spot anything lurking in the nearside blind spot.

The 2.3-litre CDTI diesel digs in nicely as you accelerate away from rest and provides a steady and uninterrupted stream of power all the way up the rev range. As well as turning in a gutsy performance on A and B roads it easily holds its own on high-speed motorways.

The Movano is sold with either front- or rear-wheel drive, and for a relatively big van it handles surprisingly well, with plenty of feedback from a nicely weighted steering system that aids manoeuvrability at low speeds. The unladen ride is a bit choppy, though, and the cab could do with a bit more sound-deadening.

Sample model: F33000 L2H2 Blue Injection

Engine size 2.3-litre
Payload 1,371kg
Load volume. 10.8m3
Combined mpg. 36.2mpg
CO2 204g/km
Price (ex VAT) £28,433

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C 4rafterjpg

Volkswagen Crafter

What Van?’s Light Commercial Vehicle of the Year in 2018 is available in front-, rear- and all-wheel drive 4Motion formats.

It also comes in three wheelbases, three roof heights, and as a single- and double-cab chassis cab, offering load volumes of 9.9-18.3m3.

A 2.0-litre diesel engine powers the range with outputs of 102hp, 122hp and 140hp, plus there’s a bi-turbo TDI with 177hp. The powertrains come mated to a six-speed manual or an eight-speed auto gearbox.

The front-wheel drive, 3.5t, 140hp six-speed manual we tested wasn’t short of practical features and creature comforts. These included the Ergocomfort driver’s seat, with 14 setting positions encompassing shock cushioning with weight adjustment to minimise back pain, an electric four-way lumbar support, and an armrest.

The cabin is full of robust-looking materials and storage spaces, but the overall effect is a little dull. That said, the auto aircon is excellent, and the satnav/infotainment system cutting-edge.

An e-Crafter is due to arrive in the UK during 2021.

Sample model: Trendline CR35 MWB 140hp

Engine size 2.0-litre
Payload  1,244kg
Load volume 11.3m3
Combined mpg
38.2mpg
CO2 193g/km
Price (ex VAT) £32,028



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