With an uptick in the national economy comes an uptick in business spending, which could explain robust van sales during the month of July 2015. Obviously, the editors of Truck Trend are advocates of, well, the truck, but for many professionals, a van makes more sense. A van that has hundreds of cubic feet of lockable, weatherproof storage is perfect for expensive tools, electrical equipment, and work supplies. And let’s not lie, there’s a little Chris Farley in all of us that secretly wants to live in a van down by the river.
Ford Transit – 8,025, Up 1,518 Percent
Once again, the Ford Transit is the bestselling van on the market, helping the company’s van offerings post their best July sales in 15 years. It’s been the bestselling van nine months running, thanks in part to its availability as a passenger or cargo van, unlike some of its competition. An available diesel engine also makes its way under the Transit’s pug-nosed bonnet, although the oil-burner’s take rate doesn’t rival that of the standard naturally aspirated V-6 or optional 3.5L EcoBoost.
The traditional body-on-frame van is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but holdouts including the General Motors fullsize vans aren’t going quietly. GM claims that sales of its Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana
vans have seen a slight uptick in sales to certain van customers who prefer a body-on-frame van for its versatility and durability, and the Express/Savana are the only vans available with a heavy-duty diesel V-8.
The first compact van in the American market is also the bestselling. The Ford Transit Connect (available in long- and short-wheelbase and passenger or cargo configurations) provides a decent option for some customers, particularly eco-conscious urban businesses. Also available as a seven-seat minivan, the Transit Connect might be stealing a few oddball sales away from crossovers and sport-utes.
| 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon Promo
Ford E-Series – 3,342, Down 67 Percent
The Ford E-Series, although seriously outgunned by its Ford replacement and domestic competition, is still selling at a reasonable pace, especially considering it’s only available as an E-350 or E-450 cutaway van (full-body E-Series vans have been supplanted by the Transit). Campervan manufacturer Sportsmobile still uses the heavy-duty E-Series for its newest creation, the Classic
| Roush Ford E 450 Cutaway Van Withbox
GMC Savana – 2,577, Down 41 Percent
Like the Chevrolet Express, the GMC Savana has gained some popularity among bus and coach builders since the body-on-frame E-Series full-body van was discontinued. It and the Express are the only vans motivated by a standard V-8 (displacing 4.8 liters), and a 6.0L V-8 and 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V-8 are optional.
| 2016 GMC Savana Rear Three Quarter
The first modern Euro-style van in the American market is selling well enough. With a choice of four- and six-cylinder diesel engines, optional four-wheel drive, and a variety of body styles (ranging from giant to leviathan), the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has become the luxury coach of the era.
| 2015 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 4x4 Front Three Quarter In Motion 03
Nissan NV – 1,526, Up 24.1 Percent
The only Japanese truck-based van is a good choice for those who want something a little different from their work vehicle. With a truck-inspired long front snout, the fullsize Nissan NV has pickup-grade styling and tons of front legroom, and the available 5.6L V-8 sounds very cool, even if it is thirsty.
| 2014 Nissan NV Front View
The Ram ProMaster’s sales are somewhat hobbled in that it’s only available as a cargo van, leaving fleet and shuttle operators to look elsewhere. However, the front-wheel-drive ProMaster has an exceedingly low rear step-in, with tons of vertical space available even in the low-roof version. It’s also available with a light-duty four-cylinder diesel that improves fuel economy and torque over the standard 3.6L Pentastar V-6.
| 2015 Ram ProMaster Front Three Quarter In Motion
The Nissan NV200 is an ultra-compact cargo van that has a city-friendly size and decent fuel economy. Although its negligible aero efficiency and droning CVT transmission conspire against it on the highway, in the city, it has one of the best fuel economy ratings of any compact van, at 24 mpg.
| 2015 Nissan Nv200 Side View Doors Open
The Chevrolet City Express is the Nissan NV200’s mechanical twin, and cosmetically, they’re not that far apart either. Unique grilles and badging set the Chevy apart; otherwise, everything you just read about the NV200 apply here as well.
| 2015 Chevrolet City Express Front View
As production ramps up and word gets out, we’d like to see the Ram ProMaster City’s sales increase. It’s got the most standard horsepower of the compact vans, yet its fuel economy is right in the hunt with the others, at 24 combined mpg. It’s also reasonably fun to drive, if you learn how to finesse the throttle to help it cooperate with the nine-speed automatic transmission.
| 2015 Ram ProMaster City Tradesman Front Three Quarter In Motion