With the all-new Transit, Ford is the latest company to convert its van lineup to the taller, narrower boxes that Europe has been using since, well, ever. Today’s cargo/passenger van options are far removed from what they were in the 1990s and 2000s, with compact delivery vans scurrying around their nearly–cab-over big brothers. We won’t complain, as this new crop of vans is more efficient than and as capable as the suite of vans available 15 years ago.
Ford Transit – 10,154, Up 729 Percent
While many (ourselves included) lament the loss of the Power Stroke V-8 that motivated E-250/Econoline vans, it’s hard to argue with the unibody Transit’s sales and capability. Available with a naturally aspirated 3.5L V-6, an EcoBoost 3.5L V-6, or a Power Stroke 3.2L I-5 diesel, there’s a Transit for almost any use. Three lengths, three roof heights, and cargo/passenger versions create a massive matrix of vehicles available.
Chevrolet Express – 6,666, Up 9 Percent
The last domestic body-on-frame van is doing just fine, thanks. In spite of its sinister sales number in September, overall sales are up. Ford abandoning the body-on-frame van market had an unexpected effect on Express sales, as many body builders still rely on a body-on-frame vehicle rather than reengineering solutions for a unibody.
| 2014 Chevrolet Express Cargo Van Front View
Ford E-series – 3,988, Down 28 Percent
Still available as a cutaway, the Ford E-Series is a common choice for shuttles and motorhomes.
Ford’s not abandoning that market any time soon.
Ford Transit Connect – 3,852, Down 7 Percent
The Transit Connect was one of the first compact cargo vans on the market when it arrived in 2010. As the bestselling vehicle in its segment, the Transit Connect rounds out Ford’s three-vehicle commercial van strategy. Unlike the Chevrolet City Express, Nissan NV200, and Ram ProMaster City, the Transit Connect is available as a seven-seat Wagon, expanding the line’s versatility. For real cargo work, though, avoid the Wagon and stick with the Van.
| 2014 Ford Transit Connect Right Rear
Ram ProMaster – 2,483, Up 76 Percent
Available with either a Pentastar 3.6L V-6 or 3.0L EcoDiesel I-4 the Ram ProMaster is the only fullsize cargo van with front-wheel drive. That layout makes space for an astoundingly wide, low rear cargo bay. Although its homely looks may turn some off, the ProMaster’s versatility should attract many, and last month’s sales bear that out.
| 2016 Ram Promaster Front Three Quarter
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – 2,317 – Up 5 Percent
The originator of the Euro-style van segment in the United States, Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter is one of the most expensive work vehicles available on our shores. However, a standard diesel powertrain (a 2.1L I-4, with a 3.0L V-6 optional) and wind-correcting sway control, the Sprinter may be worth it. It’ll never be a bestseller, but steady, consistent interest keeps it relevant.
| 2015 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 4x4 Euro Spec Front Side View
Nissan NV – 1,437, Up 35 Percent
Aside from the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, the Nissan NV is the last remaining body-on-frame full-body van on the market today. An available 5.6L V-8 makes some sexy noises (although at the expense of efficiency), and the van is massive inside, with a variety of tie-downs and available cargo management accessories.
| 2014 Nissan NV Drivers Side
Nissan NV200 – 1,400, Up 35 Percent
We enjoyed our year with the Nissan NV200, a compact van that pairs a 2.0L I-4 with a CVT for best-in-class 24 mpg in the city. A tight turning circle makes it ideal for city deliveries and work, although the engine and transmission conspire against quiet, quick driving on the highway.
| 2015 Nissan Nv200 Side View Doors Open
Chevrolet City Express – 1,024, All-New
The Chevrolet City Express is the Nissan NV200’s doppelganger, sharing almost everything but the front fascia and horn button with the Japanese van. All of the Nissan’s positives and negatives get rolled over to the Chevy with one exception: we think the City Express looks better. As an all-new model, it’s showing a strong performance.
| 2015 Chevrolet City Express Front Three Quarter
Ram ProMaster City – 861, All-New
The all-new ProMaster City is Ram’s newest entry. Intended to replace the Dodge Grand Caravan-based Cargo Van, the ProMaster City comes standard with a 2.4L I-4 and nine-speed automatic transmission, and with the most standard horsepower in its class and all those gears, the Ram is a spry performer. Expect to see these sales numbers rise as production ramps up and the word gets out.
| 2016 Ram Promaster City Front Three Quarter
GMC Savana – 728, Down 48 Percent
The mechanical twin to the Chevrolet Express, the GMC Savana is one of two cargo vans available with a diesel V-8. With a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds, the Savana and Express are the only ones to get if your plumbing van doubles as a tow pig on the weekend.
| 2014 GMC Savana Three Quarters View 2
Ram C/V – 4, Down 99 Percent
The Dodge Grand Caravan-based Ram Cargo Van is about to leave the building, but don’t trouble yourself too much. The ProMaster City is easier to drive, more efficient, more spacious, and more comfortable, at the expense of some low-end torque.
| 2015 Ram Cargo Van Front Three Quarter