Look, we like vans. Sure, trucks are sexy, but the van gets the job done. Why? Well, at Expertec, we think it’s because the van is there to do just one job – work. That $60,000 truck? You take the family out in it, or drive it to go hunting, but your work van? You leave it ready for the job all the time.
Now that the major manufacturers are finally taking the work van seriously, the range of models and options that are available in cargo and work vans is impressive, to say the least. It’s not unusual to find leather seats, great sound systems, and the wireless connectivity packages usually found in luxury vehicles in the cab of a cargo van, and that is great news. After all, most of us work a lot more than 40 hours a week, and if your job means that a work vehicle is your office, then why not be comfortable while you work?
For 2018, there are some really nice platforms ready to work for you in the traditional “work van” sector, so here’s some of the best for next year:
Chevrolet and GMC
Finally, Chevrolet is giving the Express line up a much-needed facelift. In response to the changing face of work, Chevrolet will offer two different platforms – the City Express, largely manufactured by Nissan, and their in-house model, the Express. The City platform will utilize a four-cylinder engine and offers fuel economy that is nearly 30 mpg, depending on the final GVWR, while the standard Express will continue to be offered with a choice of the LS-platform engines in 4.8, 5.3, and even 6.0 liters. As with years past, the full-sized Express will be available in 1500, 2500, and 3500 chassis designations and the design features more headroom and a very potent technology package to keep drivers connected.
The two questions that we haven’t had effectively answered are: will GM offer either of the Duramax engines in these vans and what (or when) will GMC’s Savana platform get a much-needed update. If history holds true, we should expect to see GMC follow suit with Chevrolet, but the diesel question is one that really gets us excited.
Now that the “old” Ford Econoline is officially retired, the Transit is Ford’s van platform, and for 2018, the Transit has a lot going for it. With available one-ton capacity and dual rear wheels, the Transit may really begin to make inroads into what was formerly the exclusive domain of trucks. After all, if you need a Dually, then you have to have a truck, right? Apparently, not anymore.
Like the GM offerings above, Ford has the Transit available in two styles – the Transit Connect for smaller, city and delivery driving and the standard Transit, with larger engines, more towing capacity, and better hauling capabilites. The base engine is a 3.7-liter V-6 making 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque but the real beauty shows in the optional engines – a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 rated 310 hp and 400 lb-ft and a 3.2-liter Powerstroke turbodiesel I-5 making 185 hp and 350 lb-ft.
Ford follows their truck line by only offering the Transit line with automatic transmissions – six speed overdrives with their SelectShift capability.
What makes the Transit line so impressive is the way that the chassis are offered – multiple roof heights, wheelbases, and overall lengths. Buyers can choose from three roof heights – (83 inch, 100 inch, or 109 inch), two wheelbases (130 inch and 148 inch) and load floors ranging from 126 inches to a whooping 172 inches.
There’s a lot to like about the Transit.
Ram (formerly Dodge)
The Ram Promaster is not a Dodge product, but rather a rebadged Fiat Ducato. While 2018 will bring minor styling changes, a full redesign is still several years away, so for 2018, expect Ram to continue soldiering on with a pleasant choice of optional engines, including diesel power (though not the legendary Cummins powerplant from the Ram truck line).
Despite a platform that is over a decade old (the current Fiat design is over 10 years old, though the Promaster has only been sold since 2015), the Ram Promaster offers a tremendous value and plenty of aftermarket support. Given the range of ways the van can be ordered and configured from the factory, it still offers buyers a lot of bang for their buck and, given the age of the platform, it could be a cinch to grab one for substantially less than a newer design.
The Sprinter van built by Mercedes is all-new for 2018 and, despite how close we are to new models appearing in showrooms, it appears that no one wants to discuss what the new design is going to feature.
Aside from a few “spy” shots by car paparazzi, Stuttgart has remained very quiet about the Sprinter’s next iteration.
What we do know is that the current drivetrain options will continue to be available and the current rumors place a hybrid powerplant into the mix. The best news of all, though, is that these will be built at the new facility in South Carolina, theoretically making parts availability and ordering a shorter, less expensive process.
Wheelbases should continue to be the same as before, with a choice of 144 and 170 inches and the popular 4 wheel drive option. That alone gives it a tremendous advantage for many of our customers.
We’ve already touched on the Nissan-built Chevrolet City Express, but the “true” Nissan NV series remains rather unchanged for 2018. Offering two engines – a 4.0 V6 and the 5.6 liter V8, the NV series has plenty of power and up to 323 cubic feet of space internally.
The biggest selling point? Simply put, Nissan durability and an older design, which gives value-conscious buyers a real incentive to do business at the dealership. Nissan proudly points out that their base price is the lowest of any comparable van in the work segment and, for buyers looking for a “bare shell” to upfit, this may very well be the perfect place to start.
No matter what you’re looking for in a van, the models out there today are far and away more appealing than any to ever hit the showroom before. Today’s work van really shows how connected we are globally – traditional North American manufacturers using European and Japanese bases for their own vehicles and adding the twists that we need to do business the way we want to right here.
That’s the appeal of today’s work van and when it comes time to put your new one to work, contact us and let’s see how we can further refine it to make it perfect for your needs.