With exemplary build quality, astonishing reliability, durability most manufacturers cannot match and residual values rivals would kill for, Volkswagen's evergreen Transporter has quite rightly driven off with our Used Van of the Year accolade for 2014.
This new award was decided using the expert knowledge and opinions of BCA, Glass’s, Kee Resources, Used Van Expert and Van Monster, who were each asked to nominate their top three used recommendations before we totted up the results to give a winner.
To all the Transporter’s quality and RV advantages should be added the support of a dedicated light commercial vehicle network unhindered by concerns about how many cars its dealers will sell in the next quarter: concerns that often result in rivals’ van activities being pushed to one side and failing to receive the investment they deserve. VW treats its commercial vehicle arm as a business in its own right on a par its with Audi, Skoda and Seat brands.
In determining which vehicle should receive this first used van award, What Van? consulted leading auction houses, used commercial vehicle experts and van retailers. The comments of one of these experts are worth repeating.
"Transporter has deservedly been the clear leader in the used medium van sector over many years," he observes. "It has the reputation of offering outstanding build quality that translates directly into durability and therefore less downtime.
"As a used panel van, Transporter commands high residual values the competition cannot match," he continues. "Although its cost when new might be higher than that of some of its rivals, a combination of reliability that leads to fewer repair bills and sky-high resale prices means that overall running costs are low.
"Every time a Transporter appears in front of the rostrum the hands shoot up," adds another expert. "It represents the gold standard of the used van market."
It also has the advantage of being a highly-practical cargo carrier. With gross payload capacities running from 650kg to 1340kg and load volumes extending from 5.8m3 to 9.3m3, it
boasts an unburstable 2.0-litre diesel with power outputs ranging from 84hp to a potent 180hp from the Bi-turbo diesel engine.
Though best-known as a van, Transporter is also produced as a chassis cab, a chassis double-cab and as a people carrier too. Four-wheel-drive versions are available as well.
It is interesting to note that Transporter is viewed as a more-desirable second-hand buy than the far more widely available Ford Transit: one of our Highly Commended choices.
Its ubiquity brings it a key advantage; because there are so many around, virtually every workshop in the country has worked on one at one time or another, therefore few technicians are scared of it. As a consequence anybody who buys a Transit should have no trouble getting it fixed if it goes wrong.
Admittedly there are some tatty examples around. However, so many Transits are off-loaded onto the used market annually that a little bit of searching should soon result in the example you want.
Our other Highly Commended choice is the mighty Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. One of the few light commercials that can match Transporter for build quality, it too has the advantage of a strong network of dealers, many of whose workshops are open round-the-clock thanks to their heavy truck activities.
As a consequence you can get it serviced overnight ready to go back to work the next morning.