These are the most reliable cargo vans trusted by professionals:
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter & Metris
- Ford Transit Cargo & Ford Transit Connect
- Nissan NV & NV200 Compact
- Chevrolet Express
- GMC Savana
- RAM ProMaster City & ProMaster
In this detailed guide, I’ll take you through the most reliable cargo vans, what determines their reliability, how to choose the most reliable one, and tips to make your cargo van serve you longer.
Read on, feel free to pause, and check the facts, so you too can make a more informed decision.
Full-Size vs Compact Cargo Vans
In your quest for the most reliable cargo van, remember the size and versatility of a van influences its capabilities. You should choose a van size that fits the type of work you do, the kind of clients you serve, and the sorts of employees in your team.
You’ll, therefore, do great if you consider the brand, cargo space, payload capacity, engine specs, and other factors that fit your everyday needs. We’ll explore these in detail later.
Full-size cargo vans uniquely combine the comfort and agility of an SUV with the monster hauling capabilities of a truck in one package.
That said, they’re the standard backbone for most business operations, working hard to meet the tough back and forth demands of logistics.
Compact cargo vans are essentially a smaller version of the full-size cargo van, offering unbeatable flexibility, efficiency, and movability that suits them for tight city spaces and residential calls.
To crown it all, they retail at lower prices and offer impressive fuel economy, much as they compromise strength in exchange for remarkable lightweight and convenience.
The Most Reliable Full-Size Cargo Vans
|Van||Cargo Volume (cu.ft.)||Payload Capacity (lbs)||Towing Capacity (lbs)||Starting Price (MSRP)||Basic Warranty|
|Mercedes-Benz Sprinter||319||4,156||7,500||$36,355||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Ford Transit||536.4||5,174||6,900||$35,925||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Nissan NV||323||3,720||9,400||$30,640||5 years/100,000 miles|
|RAM ProMaster||463||4,330||6,910||$32,340||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Chevrolet Express||284.4||4,280||10,000||$37,255||3 years/36,000 miles|
|GMC Savana||283.6||3,280||10,000||$33,850||3 years/36,000 miles|
Here are the most reliable full-size cargo vans:
1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van boasts excellent craftsmanship, optional tech, roomy cargo space, multiple configurations, and remarkable offroad capabilities.
It comes in 5 trim levels, with three wheelbases, three engine options, and two different roof heights to choose from.
The most popular one is the 2500 trim with a 144” wheelbase, a standard roof, a 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine, and an RWD drivetrain.
Its cargo bay offers 319 cubic feet, and it has a maximum payload of 4156 lbs.
While it’s exclusively priced, the German brand’s attention to detail is evident in the cabin and comfy ride.
Amazon’s delivery vans are based on this vehicle. They need reliable vans for the huge number of parcels each van has to deliver.
2. Ford Transit Cargo Van
The Ford Transit cargo van comes in four trim levels, two wheelbases, three different body lengths and roof heights, each with a generous cargo area behind the front seating row.
Depending on the trim level you choose, you can have a cargo volume of up to 536.4 cubic feet and a payload capacity ranging from 3148 to 5174 lbs.
One of the popular styles is the regular length T-250 with a 130” medium roof. It’s equipped with a 3.5L V6 PFDI engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission and an RWD drivetrain.
The Ford Transit’s exposed-frame interior makes it flexible for configuration as a delivery van, a mobile office, an RV, or anything else you want.
3. Nissan NV Cargo Van
The Nissan NV easily tackles the workday in a cinch, with two powerful engine options (V6 or V8) that give it a monster towing capacity of 9,400 lbs.
The NV comes in two trim levels and two different roof heights to suit your unique hauling needs, with a maximum cargo volume of 323 cubic feet and a payload capacity of 3,720 lbs.
The most popular style is the NV2500 HD SV with a standard roof, equipped with a 4.0L DOHC V6 engine and RWD drivetrain.
Besides the unbeatable cargo storage capacity, the NV offers several interior upfit options to suit any trade, whether you need racks, cabinets, etc.
4. RAM ProMaster Cargo Van
The RAM ProMaster comes in three different body lengths and two roof height options, and it currently boasts the lowest load floor height.
Still, it has the broadest cargo width than any other van in its class, with a cargo volume of up to 463 cubic feet and a maximum payload of 4330 lbs.
The powertrain includes a 3.6L V6 DOHC engine with 6-speed automatic transmission.
Depending on the wheelbase and roof height option, you can also get a maximum towing capacity of 6910 lbs.
5. Chevrolet Express Cargo Van
Enter the dinosaur. The Chevy Express has maintained its traditional heavy-duty frame and sturdy engine choices for over 25 years.
That said, it may also not boast the latest driver-assist tech and safety features, but it has undeniably earned a following for low maintenance and dependability.
You can choose from two engine options, either the 4.3L V6 gas engine or the 6.6L V8 gas engine.
It’s available in both regular and extended-length wheelbases, and the cargo hold offers up to 284.4 cubic feet, with a maximum payload capacity of 4280 lbs.
The towing capacity of this behemoth is incredible, going up to 10,000 lbs, which beats some commercial pickup trucks hands down.
6. GMC Savana Cargo Van
Think of the GMC Savana as a twin of the Chevy Express, demonstrating the strength and hauling capacity that befits a full-size work van.
Its heavy-duty platform derives first from the ladder frame chassis that you’ll find in most trucks, and it can haul tons of gear and cargo without breaking.
The GMC Savana also has two engine options and two wheelbases, with the cargo space capped at 283.6 cubic feet and a maximum payload capacity of 3280 lbs.
And when it comes to trailering, this beast can also tow a whopping 10,000 pounds.
While it lacks the technology that most of its rivals boast, its interior features durable materials.
The Most Reliable Compact Cargo Vans
|Van||Cargo Volume (cu.ft.)||Payload Capacity||MPG (City/Hwy)||Starting Price (MSRP)||Basic Warranty|
|Ford Transit Connect||123.2||1,510 lbs||24/27||$25,175||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Mercedes-Benz Metris||182.9||2,205 lbs||19/23||$34,900||3 years/60,000 miles|
|Ram ProMaster City||131.7||1,900 lbs||21/28||$25,065||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Nissan NV200||122.7||1,480 lbs||24/26||$23,630||5 years/100,000 miles|
These are the most reliable city cargo vans:
1. Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van
The Ford Transit Connect is a 2-seater cargo van that comes in the XL and XLT trim levels.
It’s powered by a 2.0L GDI I-4 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission, and it can deliver an EPA-estimated 24 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.
Contractors, caterers, electricians, florists, and the like enjoy the convenience of this van as you can easily configure its roomy cargo space.
The SWB model offers a cargo space of 104.8 cubic feet behind the front seats, which goes to 123.2 cubic feet with the passenger seat folded. Its maximum payload capacity is 1510 lbs.
The LWB model has 127.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which can extend to 145.8, with a maximum payload of 1550 lbs.
The Ford Transit Connect fits in most residential garages, even with the two wheelbase options.
Pair that with the user-friendly safety features, smooth ride, and impressive fuel economy, and you’ll figure out why it’s a breeze to drive daily.
2. Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van
The MB Metris cargo van has the 126” and 135” wheelbase options, both of which have a standard roof size.
Both are powered by a sturdy 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine with 9-speed automatic transmission.
With the compact size and refined drivetrain, you can drive the Metris cargo van comfortably and park in tight spaces.
In terms of cargo space, the 135” WB model offers 199.2 cu. ft. cargo volume and has a payload capacity of 2150 lbs. The 126” WB Metris offers 182.9 cu. ft. and can haul a maximum payload of 2205 lbs.
The fuel economy of the Metris cargo van may not be impressive, with an estimated 19 MPG for city driving and 23 MPG when driving on a highway.
3. Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van
The Ram ProMaster City cargo van is also a 2-seater rugged work vehicle that offers benchmarkable cargo space at an affordable price.
It comes in two trim levels – the Tradesman and the Tradesman SLT, with the Tradesman being more popular.
It offers a whopping 131.7 cubic feet of configurable cargo space and can haul a maximum of 1900 lbs.
This little monster derives its power from a 2.4 L DOHC I-4 engine with 9-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (FWD).
The ProMaster City delivers an impressive fuel economy of 21 MPG for city driving and 28 MPG for highway driving.
There are no parking hassles since this van is compact enough to fit in most city parking spaces and residential garages.
4. Nissan NV200 Cargo Van
The Nissan NV200 is really good for many small businesses that do lots of home calls and deliveries in cities.
Both the S and SV trim levels are powered by a 2.0 L 4-cylinder DOHC engine that can deliver 131 HP. They also have the Xtronic CVT transmission (continuously variable transmission) and FWD drivetrain.
While the NV200’s cargo and payload capacities fall shy of most of its rivals, its slim frame offers 122.7 cubic feet of cargo space, and it can haul a payload of 1480 pounds.
The NV200 offers easy access and is user-friendly due to the 180° 40/60 split rear doors and dual sliding side doors. Its squared-off corners and lower floor height also allows easy forklift access.
Once it hits the road, the NV200 delivers an EPA estimate of 24 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway.
What Determines the Reliability of a Cargo Van
While no cargo van is immune to mechanical issues, some makes and models undeniably have a high reputation for being more reliable.
And however challenging it can be to know how long a cargo van will serve you, here are some factors that could determine if a cargo van is reliable:
1. Reputable Brand & Manufacturer
To be fair, every automotive brand has its bad-egg model, and having a glamorous badge on the hood doesn’t clearly mean it’s long-term dependable.
However, renowned automobile manufacturers like Ford and Mercedes-Benz produce very reliable cargo vans irrespective of the model.
According to Consumer Reports, Japanese brands also take pride in manufacturing the most reliable vehicles in recent times.
2. Van Equipment & Technology
While this sounds counterintuitive, I’d like to think the high-tech gadgets and complex equipment that modern vans come with increase the chances of something breaking down.
That’s open for debate, but I’d settle for a model with a moderate amount of newer equipment just to stay on the safer side when it comes to longevity.
3. Use Predicted Reliability Ratings
J.D. Power uses predicted reliability ratings to determine how dependable a vehicle can be, including cargo vans.
The predicted reliability ratings are based on a statistically-derived formula, which uses both short-term (90 days) and long-term (3 years) survey data in the course of owning a given vehicle model.
The ratings highlight chances of the owner running into mechanical issues, meaning they show how happy you’ll be with a cargo van in the long run, and whether you’ll get a good resale value.
How To Choose The Most Reliable Cargo Van
Let’s be blunt – no two cargo vans nor their use cases will ever be the same. An HVAC company may do well with a behemoth like the Nissan NV2500, while a mobile electrician may only need a compact work van like the Ford Transit Connect.
The following key questions will help you narrow down your options to what suits your daily operations:
What will your cargo van be hauling?
Estimate the size and average weights of the cargo and gear you’ll be transporting so you figure out the most practical van for your average daily payloads.
What roof height do you prefer?
If you’ll be using the roof for storage or need to stand up straight inside the van frequently, it’s good to opt for a high roof cargo van. Still, be mindful of how this limits where you can park.
Where will you be driving?
Most full-size cargo vans are sturdy workhorses that can maneuver rugged terrains to a certain degree and with the SUV comfort level.
Compact cargo vans are more convenient for tight urban spaces and residential calls where size and flexibility are key.
How is your workforce organized?
If your employees operate in teams, work out how many of them each van will need to carry and for how long.
You’ll likely figure out the kind of upfit options you need, like extra rows of seats, and the most customizable van.
Which safety features do you consider key?
Most modern cargo vans come equipped with state-of-the-art safety features and driver-assist technology that you may find useful.
Understandably, you should conduct your in-depth research on the most reliable cargo van with the following in mind:
- Cargo space & Roof Height
- Payload Capacity
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
- Fuel Type & Fuel Economy
- Safety Features
Tips To Make Your Cargo Van Serve Longer
Arguably, your cargo van is reliable if it rarely or never breaks down in the course of its operation, for this, you need to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
Here are the four extra tips to beef up your cargo van’s reliability:
1. Use OEM Parts & The Right Fuel
Stick with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts for your cargo van instead of cheaper alternatives that will likely prompt frequent repairs.
Moreover, if your engine is designed to run on premium fuel, it’s the only fuel that’ll max its potential instead of regular gas.
2. Maintain Recommended Fluid Levels
Keep an eye on the following fluids to ensure they stay within the recommended mark:
- Transmission fluid
The levels of these fluids shouldn’t vary between service intervals since such fluctuations could cause damage to other parts.
3. Check Gauges & Warning Lights
Your smartest move is to check the owner’s manual or visit a qualified mechanic once you see the red/amber spanner symbol or other warning lights.
What’s more, check crucial gauges for the engine temperature, RPM, battery charge, etc.
Remember, a savvy driver will literally save the engine by stopping the vehicle if the engine temperature hits the red zone.
4. Keep Tires at Optimum Condition
The condition of your cargo van’s tires plays a key role in its durability, and your biggest bet is to replace them when they’re too worn out.
So, kindly inspect them regularly for uneven wear patterns, excessive wear, and high or low pressure.
The Ford Transit is undeniably the best-selling commercial van in the US because it towers above the competition in almost every respect. Whether you’re looking at the full-size hauler or the more compact Ford Transit Connect, it’s highly adaptable.
However if you are looking for reliability as the main factor, then I would have to recommend the Mercedes Sprinter Van as the first choice.
However, it’s a very close call between it and the Ford Transit which is also very reliable.
The Ford Transit is more popular because of other things it has going for it, such as:
- 536 cubic feet of cargo space, whereas the Mercedes Sprinter only has 319.
- Greater payload capacity of 5,174lbs, compared to the Mercedes 4,156
- Slightly cheaper at $35,925, compared to the Mercedes Sprinter being $36,355
So although I have put the Mercedes Sprinter at number one, the Ford Transit is also a very reliable cargo van that you may well choose instead.
While these vans appear to be the go-to cargo vans, even the most reliable work van can be easily abused due to its ability to carry heavy loads.
It’s therefore important to treat a cargo van reasonably and stick to the recommended maintenance intervals to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.