Small Businesses Deliver
There are around 28 million small business in the U.S. employing more than 50 percent of the country’s workforce, according to Forbes. The types of small businesses across America are as varied as the people who own them, although one thing is certain: small businesses need to remain agile and adaptable, including the ways in which they interact with customers on a daily basis when delivering goods, hauling tools of the trade, or visiting clients. Although trucks are often considered the go-to solution for these types of tasks, cargo vans — both small and large — have gained popularity with business owners. Let’s look at the best cargo vans in America for small businesses.
Starting MSRP: $20,870
The compact work van is a growing automotive segment, and in 2013 Nissan joined the fray with the all-new NV200. Possessing the lowest starting price of compact cargo vans on the market, the NV200 offers 122.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Loading is made easy with a low 21.1-inch liftover height, and all sorts of cargo can fit within the rear storage space that is 82.8 inches long, 53 inches high and 54.8 inches wide (48 inches between the rear wheelwells). Twenty standard integrated, reinforced cargo-mounting points provide additional flexibility, so owners can install racks and shelves without drilling into the van’s walls. The NV200 also has six available floor-mounted cargo hooks as well as six exterior roof-rack mounting points.
The Nissan NV200 can be equipped with “Mobile Office” functionality, including a center console featuring laptop/hanging file folder storage, a pen/pencil tray, a CD holder and dual cupholders. Recessed storage areas on the upper instrument panel hold folders and documents. In addition, the passenger seat folds down and features a 15×13-inch tray built into the seatback that can fit most laptops. When folded, it also extends the cargo space for hauling longer items such as pipe or lumber. Powering the NV200 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 131 horsepower while delivering 24 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway.
Chevrolet City Express
Starting MSRP: $21,955
Last year Chevrolet entered the compact cargo van market with the all-new City Express. The City Express is based on the Nissan NV200, so it also features the same 122.7 cubic feet of cargo space as well as the 2.0-liter 131-horsepower engine. Like the Nissan, it also has dual rear-sliding doors as well as the 60/40 split rear cargo doors that can open 180 degrees for easy loading. Standard features include vinyl flooring, a 150-amp alternator, a 12-volt power outlet, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and backup sensors.
Chevrolet City Express
“Small business is an important segment of growth for fleet vehicles,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, GM Fleet and Commercial. “The City Express gives these hardworking entrepreneurs one less thing to worry about when it comes to boosting their business.” “The Chevrolet City Express is the perfect representation of our company as it shows our customers that we can do more with less,” said Vital Media Security President and CEO Jerry Judkins. “With great fuel economy and right-sized cargo room, it fits perfectly into our business.”
Ford Transit Connect
Starting MSRP: $22,675
Small cargo vans such as the Ford Transit Connect have been popular in Europe for years, and their value to U.S. small business owners has really shown itself since these vehicles started coming to America. The Transit Connect is currently the best-seller in this segment, available with short or long wheelbase, a choice of engines as well as a number of available convenience features. With the larger model, Transit Connect can handle 128.6 cubic feet of cargo, accommodating items up to 87 inches long, 48 inches wide and 49 inches tall.
Ford Transit Connect
Consumers can choose between a rear liftgate or swing-out rear cargo doors that open 180 degrees. When properly equipped, the Transit Connect can handle up to 1,620 pounds of cargo or tow up to 2,000 pounds. Power comes from either a 2.5-liter Duratec engine producing 169 horsepower, or a 1.6-liter EcoBoost motor offering up 178 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Ford offers a number of advanced safety and convenience features including Ford MyKey, which allows owners and fleet administrators to activate an alarm when a preset speed or audio volume gets exceeded.
Ram ProMaster City
Starting MSRP: $23,445
Like its Ford competition, the ProMaster City is also based on a model from Europe — in this case the very popular Fiat Doblo. Ram’s offering in this growing market can carry 131.7 cubic feet of cargo in a space 60.4 inches wide (48.4 between wheel wells), 87.2 inches long and 51.8 inches high. The ProMaster City can haul up to 1,883 pounds or tow up to 2,000 pounds. Dual sliding doors and 60/40 split rear doors allow for easy access and loading.
Ram ProMaster City
Powering the ProMaster City is a 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder engine generating 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. A class-exclusive 9-speed automatic transmission contributes to impressive fuel economy — the U.S. EPA rates the van at 21 mpg city / 29 mpg highway. This small Ram can be well equipped for business use with features such as Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, a rearview camera and internet connectivity.
Starting MSRP: $26,740
The full-size Nissan NV offers impressive capability with a variety of configurations, including a high-roof version. Available in 1500, 2500 or 3500 trims, the NV can handle large loads with 234 cubic feet of cargo space — 323.1 cubic feet in the high-roof NV. Standard cargo space is 120 inches long by 70.2 inches wide (54.3 inches between wheels) by 55.8 inches high — 76.9 inches of height with the high roof version.
Two engines are available in the NV: a 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 or a 5.6-liter V8 producing 317 horsepower. Both engines are teamed with a 5-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped with the larger engine, the NV can tow an impressive 9,500 pounds. Even though the NV has a high ground clearance of 8.1 inches, the liftover height is surprisingly low at 28.5 inches. The NV can be equipped with NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile Apps, a 5.8-inch color touchscreen display, enhanced voice recognition for navigation and audio, a USB connection port, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a RearView Monitor.
Starting MSRP: $28,950
A relative newcomer to cargo van party in America, the Metris has been sold in Europe since 1996. Although Mercedes has long been associated with luxury and performance cars in the states, this is actually the second cargo van in the M-B lineup, joining the larger Sprinter. The Metris is about the size of a typical minivan but offers a spacious 186 cubic feet of cargo room and an equally impressive 2,502-pound maximum payload. Metris can also tow almost 5,000 pounds.
The Metris gets its power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine putting out 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway. There are plenty of features that help the Metris stand out from the crowd, including 270-degree opening rear doors, available active park assist, Crosswind Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Prevention Assist and Eco Start/Stop. The Metris can also travel up to 15,000 miles between service appointments — a big plus for small business owners.
Starting MSRP: $29,865
The ProMaster is relatively new to the Ram lineup, but this large van has certainly proven itself in Europe, where it’s been sold as the Fiat Ducato for more than 30 years. Unlike most full-size cargo vans, the ProMaster is front-wheel drive. ProMaster is available as a 1500, 2500, or 3500 in standard and high-roof formats as well as three different lengths. Cargo capacity ranges from 259 to 463 cubic feet depending on the configuration. With front-wheel drive Ram claims the ProMaster offers the best-in-class step-in height and lowest load floor.
Two engines are available for the ProMaster: a 3.6-liter V6 producing 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 174 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. ProMaster can handle a payload up to 5,160 pounds or a maximum towing capacity of 5,100 pounds. Twelve tie-down rings with 1,000-pound. ratings fold away to maintain a flat floor, along with five sidewall tie-down rings with 550-pound ratings for easy loading and unloading. ProMaster can be equipped with a front bench seat to accommodate up to three passengers. It also has a console that can be folded down to create a table with storage, a paper holder and a compartment to house a portable computer.
Chevrolet Express / GMC Savana
Starting MSRP: $30,595
The Chevrolet Express and its GMC twin the Savana are among the oldest designs in the cargo van market, but they also offer some of the most impressive capabilities. Available in regular or extended lengths, these big vans are only built as heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 variations. Unlike many of the newer designs, the GM vans have either a sliding or split swing-out door on the right side only. Unique in the industry is an additional 3-person bench seat in the Crew Cargo Van. Also available are XM Satellite Radio, a 220-amp generator, a rear auxiliary heater and six standard D-rings for securing cargo.
Chevrolet Express / GMC Savana
Three powerful engine options are available for Express / Savana: a 4.8-liter 285-horsepower V8, a 6.0-liter 329-horsepower V8 or a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 putting out 260 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. The Express / Savana offer as much as 284 cubic feet of cargo room and can handle up to 4,120 pounds of payload. The big van also impresses with its towing capability; it can pull up to 10,000 pounds.
Starting MSRP: $30,960
According to Ford, there are almost 60 different configurations of its big Transit van including two different wheelbases, three roof heights as well as 150, 250 and 350 variants. Cargo space is quite immense — the largest Transit features a space 172.2 inches long, 70.2 inches wide (54.8 inches between the wheels) and 81.5 inches high for a total of 487.3 cubic feet of space. With the high-roof option, a person 6 feet 5 inches can stand upright. This capability may be the reason the Ford Transit is by far the best-selling commercial van in America.
Transit is available with three different powertrains, including a 310-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 as well as a 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel. For better access, the Transit is available with dual sliding doors as well as rear cargo doors that can open up to 237 degrees. Also available is SYNC3, Ford’s latest entertainment and communication system. In addition, Transit can be equipped with Ford Telematics that let owners not only track the vehicle but also receive maintenance alerts as needed.
Starting MSRP: $32,495
The Sprinter brings a lot to the cargo van market with three body lengths, two roof heights and a number of convenience features not expected in this type of vehicle. Available features include Bluetooth connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded Audio System, Highbeam Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Rear View Camera and a First Aid Kit. Unlike any other cargo van on the market, the Sprinter is also available with 4-wheel drive. Earlier this year Mercedes-Benz added a less-expensive Sprinter Worker Van that delivers more than 23 mpg while boasting the ability to haul 3,500 pounds or tow 5,000 pounds.
All Sprinters are powered by BlueTec clean diesel engines with the choice of a 2.1-liter 4-cylinder with 161 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.0-liter V6 putting out 188 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Sprinter can carry as much as 5,574 pounds or tow up to 7,500 pounds. Cargo volume maxes out at 516.5 cubic feet. The Sprinter can also go up to 20,000 miles before scheduled service — extremely valuable for the commercial van operator.