But as the standards of quality and comfort are on the rise in the automotive sector, you may be surprised at what vans have to offer nowadays – from new tech to revolutionary engines.
Practicality is no longer the only thing that vans excel at; they can now offer everything from comprehensive media systems to car-like interiors.
Going into the New Year, we thought it would be useful to look at the best vans on offer for 2014. These are the models that stand out from the increasingly sophisticated crowd thanks to new and advanced features, as well as offering the renowned van practicality.
Ford Transit Connect
A little smaller than its Transit Custom big brother, the new Ford Transit Connect still manages to offer an abundance of practicality.
With two different wheelbases to choose from, the Transit Connect can easily be specified to match your needs.
The L1 wheelbase offers 2.9cu.m (2,900 litres) of storage space whereas the L2 wheelbase offers 3.6cu.m (3,600 litres) of space. Both these models can easily accommodate Euro pallets.
There are also several body styles to go alongside its wheelbase options: Van, Double-Cab-in-Van and Kombi, each offering their own perks.
Even though it is a van, the Transit Connect still manages to offer incredibly impressive economy figures. Powered by the multi-award winning 99bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, the Transit Connect is capable of returning 70.6mpg and keeping CO2 emissions as low as 105g/km.
The Nissan NV200 has been a popular model for a while now – however – the upcoming introduction of an electric version, the e-NV200, will propel it even further into the limelight.
The standard NV200 range houses three different models: Van, Combi and Fridge.
The Van model offers plenty of practicality with up to 4.2m3 (4,200 litres) of interior storage space. Nissan NV200 Combi models, on the other hand, offer up to 3.1m3 (3,100 litres) of storage room.
Nissan NV200 Fridge models are slightly different, as the refrigerated rear offers specialist functionality for businesses who deal with frozen goods.
On top of its practical body styles, the NV200 is also accompanied by a frugal diesel powerplant. The 1.5-litre turbodiesel fitted in the NV200 comes with two different power outputs: 88bhp, 108bhp. This engine can return up to 53mpg and keep CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km.
The overall flexibility of the NV200 – soon to be followed by a zero emissions model in 2014 – has resulted in the NV200 being chosen as New York City’s ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’.
Recently updated, the best selling small van in Britain – the Berlingo – is more appealing than ever.The updates focus more on efficiency and driveability, which comes headlined with a new six-speed Efficient Tronic Gearbox (ETG6). This gearbox brings an array of its own treats as well as all models fitted with it also gain cruise control, Hill Start Assist and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Although there are several engines available on the Berlingo, the e-HDi 90 Airdream ETG6 engine stands out amongst the bunch.
Featuring sophisticated hybrid technology mated with fuel saving start-stop, the e-HDi 90 Airdream ETG6 emits as little as 118g/km and can return a combined fuel economy figure of 62.8mpg.
The Berlingo has even gained some aesthetic enhancements from the outside, with a new chrome grille and revised side skirts.
The Renault Kangoo is yet another model to join the mainstream ranks as it now incorporates the new front-end as the rest of its siblings. This includes a more fluid lighting set up and a larger diamond badge on its nose.
You can be spoilt for choice in the Kangoo range as it offers everything from compact vans to window vans and people carrier-styled crew vans to all-electric models – thanks to the Z.E. line-up.
But on top of its versatile body styles, the Kangoo is one of the most ‘tech-savvy’ vans on the market, which is mainly down to the new R-Link media system fitted inside.
The R-Link media system incorporates a range of useful features – such as Bluetooth, satellite navigation and radio – into one easy to use system. It even has the ability to read out your emails for you while you are behind the wheel.
As well as there being an all-electric Kangoo Z.E. option, there is also a frugal 75bhp dCi diesel unit available. This diesel – which is fitted with stop-start engine technology – is capable of returning a combined fuel consumption of 65.7mpg and emitting as little as 112g/km of CO2.