This generation of VW Transporter is the last as we know it. The T6.1 will give way to all-electric versions and Volkswagen UK’s website has already shifted to ‘stock only’ availability on most Transporter models, a situation that will only bolster the Transporter’s already strong used values. Those values are thoroughly deserved as it happens. 

The medium-sized VW has dominated its sector for longer than any of us care to remember. Its original rear-engined layout was actually not that suitable for an LCV, making the load floor higher than any of its contemporaries with front-engine and rear-drive layouts. Once VW finally let go of the Beetle and ushered in the Golf, the Transporter followed the trend and went front-drive, with VW holding onto its old rear-engined traction advantage by adding all-wheel drive – unique in the class. 

Engines too have played a big part in the Transporter’s enviable reputation. While many vans in its class make do with re-tuned (often de-tuned) units from the car line up, VW has always given the Transporter the power it needs. The five-cylinder TDI units were not only strong but covered mega-miles. We personally know of a Caravelle on airport taxi work seeing-off over 300,000 miles with merely routine servicing and consumable parts. The later four-cylinder units seem to be just as long-lived, with better fuel economy into the bargain.

These latest Bi-Turbo diesels are not only some of the best engines in the LCV sector but are as refined as any four-pot car engine of the same size. And you’d generally need a litre and two cylinders more to beat the torque characteristics and refinement that they offer. Volkswagen’s reputation for build quality was at its height here – the ID Buzz Cargo unfortunately feels much cheaper and ergonomically inferior compared to the T6.1 – while driver comfort was a strong point in all versions from T4 onwards – even if the cab was a little basic at times.

In the Transport T6/6.1 is an excellent cab with more space and much improved ergonomics, hosts plenty of tech and kit in the higher trim models – if still lacking a little in base versions. What isn’t lacking is a dedicated LCV dealer network with a fine reputation, most welcome since the level of service and back up can make or break the operating experience for used-van owners.

The Transporter may not have Ford’s fleet presence but it has gained a loyal following in SMEs. This means the Transporter’s service history is more likely to be via the VW dealer network than a fleet’s own workshops, while sole-traders operating them on PCP or lease tend to look after them well. That all means a good choice used, if commanding very strong second-hand prices.

Buyers will need to look to the higher trim levels to get the expected level of kit, while many Transporters left the dealerships with plenty of options added, further strengthening its reputation as a good used buy. Versatility is built-in, however, and options range from twin side-loading doors, van or tailgate rear doors, double-cabs and chassis-cabs with approved conversions. All have one thing in common; quality, and that comes as standard.

Highly Commended: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

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The Sprinter now has almost 30 years behind it on the UK market, and in that time has earned a reputation for reliability and versatility. It offers a mind-boggling array of body lengths, heights, payloads and drivetrain options, including 4wd and off-highway specification. This means Sprinters have found a loyal following across all sectors of the LCV market, from utility companies to parcel couriers, each of whom work their vehicles hard. The engines are tough, shrugging-off high mileages and the smooth automatic transmission betters the willowy manual selector. Backed by a massive dealer network, whose culture and mentality lies in the demanding HGV sector, the Sprinter makes a compelling case for itself as a top used LCV. Used values are high but choice is plentiful, and only a surprising tendency towards rust in earlier examples blots its perfect record as a used van.