What a Cargo Van Is

First of all what is a cargo van?

Here are their distinguishing features:

  1. One Piece Vehicle – The cargo area is accessible from the passenger area
  2. Convenient Access to Cargo Area – Sliding door on the side and a door on the rear
  3. No Windows on Cargo Area – Enclosed and secure
  4. Fuel Efficiency – Most are fuel efficient
  5. Customizable – Both inside and out

For many years now, cargo vans have been becoming increasingly popular both as personal vehicles and company vehicles.

As personal vehicles, they are becoming popular as replacements for pick-up trucks, and as company vehicles they are becoming more popular than other types of vans.

In this article I will show you what distinguishes a cargo van from other types of van or truck, and if these distinguishing features are pros or cons for your intended use.

The pros and cons of what a cargo van is

One Piece Vehicle

This means that the cargo area is not separate from the driver’s section, it is all one frame.


Depending on your intended use of the van, having the ability to access the cargo section from the driver’s position can be beneficial.

It can save time in walking around the van to open one of the doors during inclement weather. It can, in certain circumstances, also make it easier to find a suitable parking space, not having to access the rear or side door.


Somevans are more compact and therefore cannot carry as large loads as some of the other types of trucks and vans.


Convenient Access to the Cargo Area

As well as being able to access the cargo area from the driver position a cargo van has a side door and rear door on the cargo section.


This can allow for better organization of the load. Items in the cargo section can be loaded or removed from any of the access points, often making it quicker to take things out for deliveries.


Once again, although organizing a load to allow for easy access may make life easier, it often reduces the amount of cargo that can be carried.


No Windows on Cargo Area

The cargo section is fully enclosed without any windows.


Unlike a pick-up truck, this allows for the privacy of the load.

It also offers security for the cargo. No windows make the cargo van more effective for carrying sensitive loads which may be adversely affected by sunlight, such as perishable or cold cargoes.


The lack of windows reduces the driver’s range of visibility when maneuvering in tight spaces, such as parking.


More Fuel Efficienct

Most cargo vans are more fuel efficient than most other types of van.


Savings in fuel costs is a concern which most people have and so getting a fuel efficient vehicle is one of most people’s and businesses’ priorities.


The fuel efficiency of cargo vans does come at a cost.

The cost in this instance is the lack of power a cargo van has compared to other types of van.

The weight limits for cargo vans are often far lower than with other trucks. The payload limit for a large cargo van will be about 4000lbs, whereas some box trucks can carry as much as 12500lbs, three times as much weight.



There are many customizable options for both the exterior and interior of a cargo van.


A customized exterior of a cargo van can have brackets for holding ladders.

You can add a roof rack to make more cargo space available.

The side panels of a cargo van can be used as mobile advertising for your business.

Customized interiors of cargo vans can be designed to best organize your cargo, affording easy access to anything as and when it is needed.


Although there may not be any disadvantages to the external customizations of a cargo van, other vans can often offer similar customizations.

While having a well-organized, personally customized cargo area can be a big advantage, often it will place even more limits on the overall cargo space available.


What a Cargo Van Is Less Suitable For

Before we go to what cargo vans are most suitable for, let me tell you the types of tasks they are less suitable for.


Removal Van

When someone moves house, they will have a wide variety of furnishings. Although these furnishings may not be particularly heavy, many are large and irregularly shaped.

A large box van or even a pick-up truck would more easily manage the odd shaped furnishings, but a pick-up truck would of course have to make several trips, as would a cargo van.

This task is therefore best suited for a box van.


Bulky and Heavy Deliveries

Due to the weight limits for freight on cargo trucks, box trucks are again more suitable for these types of tasks.


Off Road Deliveries

Cargo vans are not designed for off road driving, and so if you expect to have to make rough road or off road deliveries, a pick-up truck may be more suitable. Pick-up trucks are generally more powerful than a cargo van, and many of them have 4×4 capabilities.

Using a cargo van for these types of deliveries would make the van less cost effective due to placing excess stress and wear on the vehicle.

Regardless of the above, cargo vans are gaining in popularity because they are better suited to some tasks than other types of trucks.


What a Cargo Van Is Great For

The following list is a few examples of where a cargo van is more suitable than other, more powerful vans or pick-ups:


Maintenance Contractors

Regardless if you are called out for electrical or plumbing maintenance, you will want to have the correct tools with you. With a customized cargo van cargo area, you will be able to organize all your different tools in a way that you can easily find them when needed.



As a florist, you have a unique cargo which needs to be delivered in good shape.

This will often mean specialized storage areas which can be maintained at a constant temperature. A cargo van can provide these conditions far more easily and efficiently than most other types of delivery vehicles could.



Caterers also have unique cargo and so can benefit from the internal customizations a cargo van can offer.

Often a caterer is concerned with the quality of the cargo rather than the bulk, and that is perhaps a cargo van’s best quality, providing safe, controlled environment deliveries.



Bands are often on the road travelling from one venue to the next. Using a cargo van will give them the potential to use a single vehicle both for the artists and their equipment. This can be very beneficial as it would only need one driver.

Perhaps the artists could take turns in driving instead of hiring a driver or putting a strain on just one of the band members. A separate vehicle for the equipment would mean an extra driver too.


Many Other Businesses

The list of businesses which can benefit from using a cargo van is almost endless as it includes vets, locksmiths, and painters. It can also include tour guides if seats are fitted into the cargo area and windows inserted into the side panels.



If you are considering buying a new vehicle either for personal use or as an asset for your business, a cargo van is always worth considering.

As a personal vehicle, if you think there will be occasions when you want to move objects, a cargo van will save you the cost of hiring movers. When you have nothing to move, a cargo van will still offer you the comfort you need for any drive.

If you are buying a vehicle for your business, then a cargo van should certainly be on your list of considerations.  With the diversity of uses a cargo van can be customized to makes it far more versatile than most other cargo vehicles.

There are many different brands that make cargo vans, and most of them come in a variety of sizes.

They are however all the same when it comes to their reliability, versatility, and value for money. Often how cost effective they are is dependent on you customizing it correctly, to be the most effective for your personal needs or business.

Buying any vehicle is often a major expense for most of us, and so cost effectiveness is certainly a consideration. This means that a cargo van’s ability to maintain its residual value is one of its better benefits.

Author: Kenneth Graham

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