The Best Courier Vans

Being a budding entrepreneur myself, I understand the allure of being one’s own boss – there’s really no feeling like it. One is the most common and lucrative ways to earn a living working for yourself is as a contractor courier driver. But having a good vehicle is essential. We run through the best five courier vans.

Without doubt, the single most important aspect to consider when starting your own courier business is picking the right vehicle. It goes without saying that the more deliveries you can do in a single day, the more cash you’ll earn, and the more fuel efficient the vehicle, the less you’ll spend on expenses and the more you’ll be able to take for yoruself as profit. And that’s what you want, right?

Before we start, these are the most important qualities you need to look for in a courier vehicle, ranked roughly from most important to least important.

  • Reliability – This is a huge factor. Your vehicle is the pulse of your business. When it’s down, you’re simply not earning. This is not good. You want a vehicle that’s renowned for reliability, cheap servicing and cheap parts.
  • Fuel Economy – Another big one. Self explanatory, but getting a gas-gazzling beast of a car is the fastest route to ensure you are in the red before you even start. You want the most fuel efficient vehicle possible, as you’ll be driving all day, every day.
  • Storage Capacity – Put simply, the more you can carry, the more money you can make. You want a bare minimum of 1 tonne storage capacity, or the equivalent of 2 pallet spaces.
  • Handling – Probably the least important concern as far as profitability goes, but you want your vehicle to handle relatively well, as you’ll be navigating in and around tight spaces like loading bays and very small parking spaces. Make sure the turning circle is acceptable and you feel comfortable maneuvering it in very confined spaces.

Also keep in mind that most of the big courier companies/contractors won’t let you use a vehicle more than 5 years old, and the vehicle must also be comprehensively insured and regularly serviced.

With that in mind, let’s look at what we consider to be the best courier vans on the market today.

No.1 – Toyota Hiace Turbo Diesel

The Toyota Hiace is the perfect combination of affordability with proven reliability and performance. Produced continuously since 1967, the Hiace is Japan’s most trusted and used courier and delivery vehicle, and is the daily commute of millions of delivery drivers around the world.

They’re not the cheapest commercial van on the market, at an average price of around $44,000 (including an LPG kit), which might seem steep for a 1-tonner, but you get what you pay for, and there’s no doubt it’s money well spent. The engine has some significant grunt for a commercial van, and being Japanese-made, will give you peace of mind and assurance of reliability. It’s also extremely fuel efficient if you upgrade with an LPG kit, with an average tank of LPG providing about 400 kilometres or 250 miles.

It also has fantastic maneuverability, making otherwise difficult tasks such as reverse parking relatively easy in the Hiace. The cargo bay is also well equipped with a rubber floor mat and multiple anchor points. The cockpit is both practical and comfortable, although nothing special, but that’s to be expected in a commercial vehicle.

Note that this vehicle is only available in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; people based in the United States will either have to import one or choose one of the other vehicles on our list.

No.2 – Ford Transit

Ford’s Transit series of vehicles are used extensively throughout the transport industry due to their reliability, carry load and performance. Put simply, this van does the important things well.

The engine may have only 92kW of power but the key to the Transit’s performance lies in the torque figures. The engine provides 300Nm of torque, peaking in the 1350-2400rpm range, meaning that acceleration is very swift off the mark, even with a full load – a key performance indicator in the field of courier vans and commercial vehicles.

The Transit’s also a beautiful drive – with responsive and agile steering, rigid and firm suspension and rapid acceleration, at times it doesn’t even feel as though you’re driving a van around.

If you are after something that’s been proven for many years as a reliable and solid performer, that does the simple things well, you should definitely consider a Ford Transit.

No. 3 – Renault Master

The Master is a simply outstanding 1.5 tonne commercial van from French auto manufacturer Renault. There’s a myriad of variants and different options among the Master range, so it’s advisable to read in further detail on the Renault website for the specific model you’re after, but overall the Master has a definite edge over its competitors in a number of ways, providing excellent fuel economy (7.1 litres/100km), a powerful and industrious engine specifically designed to cater to the requirements of courier operators (rapid acceleration off the mark), and some of the lowest servicing costs in the industry.

No.4 – Mercedes-Benz/Dodge Sprinter

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (packaged as the Dodge Sprinter in the US) is one of the most efficient commercial vans on the market today, with Mercedes quoting fuel economy figures of 6.3 L / 100 km, or in the Imperial system, 1.66 gallons / 62 miles. That’s even more fuel efficient than the Toyota Hiace, and probably the best reason to consider this vehicle for your courier needs.

The Sprinter is available in diesel models producing output ranging from 70kW to 140kW, or alternatively there’s a supercharged petrol four-cylinder is also available with 115kW, which can be run on natural gas (LPG) for added fuel efficiency.

It’s also one of the more reliable courier vehicles around, with an abundance of good reviews floating about on the Internet, and a legion of satisfied customers. Another good factor to consider if you’re looking to minimize expenses; the maintenance intervals on the Sprinter are a generous 60,000km (30,000 miles on the Dodge Sprinter), helping ease the burden of maintenance costs for operators.

No.5 – Hyundai Starex/iLoad

Rounding out the list at number 5 is the he Hyundai Starex (known as the iLoad in Australian and UK markets), a relatively new entry into the commercial/courier van market, which stacks up to the competition quite well in most major categories, and is actually one of the best courier vans you can buy today.

First of all, it has a very roomy load area, measuring in at 2375mm long, 1620mm wide, 1350mm high and with 1260mm between the rear wheel arches, which is more than enough room to fit two pallets of goods – not many commercial vans out today can match up to the Starex’s carrying capacity and versatility.

The petrol engine comes in automatic and manual variants, with the manual edition providing 100kW of power and 343Nm of torque, and the auto getting 125kW and 441Nm of torque, providing a definite and much-appreciated punch to your daily load-carrying drive.

photo credit: rodneylibraries via photopin cc

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