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Room for All: Large Cargo/Passenger Vans

Autosphere » Fleet » Room for All: Large Cargo/Passenger Vans
2021 Ford Transit cargo van fourgonnette
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van. Photo: Ford

Large vans remain the backbone of the delivery and passenger-carrying business. Here’s a look at what’s currently available in Canada.

Commercial vehicles don’t get completely updated nearly as often as consumer vehicles do, but it’s a competitive market for the automakers who play in it, and they frequently tweak their products, or their offers, to fight for market share.

We’ve rounded up all of the full-size cargo and passenger vans available for 2021, as well as the only midsize on the market. All volume and payload capacities are for cargo vans.

Ford Transit

The Transit comes as a cargo van, crew van, passenger van, cutaway, and chassis cab. For 2021, cargo vans with dual rear wheels have a new maximum of 11,000-lb GVWR. All vans up to 9,500 GVWR now have an electronic parking brake. A new optional centre console puts the shifter on the right side for more legroom, and the overhead shelf is now optional, for a choice of storage or more clearance. A new Parcel Delivery Package adds wide-opening rear doors, full interior lighting, and seats without armrests for better cargo access.

The Transit comes with a normally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 or turbocharged “EcoBoost” 3.5-liter V6, both teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. There are two wheelbase lengths, three roof heights, and rear- or all-wheel drive.

The Specs:

  • 3.5-litre V6: 275 hp, 262 lb-ft of torque
  • 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6: 310 hp, 400 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity: 6,986 litres (Regular length/low roof) – 13,800 litres (Extended length/high roof)
  • Maximum payload: 3,140 lbs – 4,550 lbs
General Motors: Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana

The Express and Savana are twins with different trim. They’re also the only conventional-configured vans still available, rather than tall European-style vehicles (Ford’s E-Series now comes only as a cutaway or stripped chassis). They haven’t been substantially updated in many years, but offer a reasonably-priced alternative to larger vans.

Both brands come in cargo, 12- or 15-passenger, and cutaway configuration. Cargo vans come as 2500 or 3500, both in regular or extended length. Passenger vans are 2500 with a regular wheelbase or 3500 in regular- or extended-wheelbase.

Cargo and passenger vans both come with a choice of four engines: 4.3-litre V6, 6.0-litre V8, that same V8 with CNG/LPG capability, and 2.8-litre four-cylinder Duramax turbodiesel. All use a six-speed automatic transmission. A number of option packages are available, adding such features as a remote starter, cruise control, heavy-duty tow package, and swing-out windows for passengers.

2021 GMC Savanna Passenger Van. Photo: General Motors

The Specs:

  • 4.3-litre V6: 276 hp, 298 lb-ft of torque
  • 6.0-litre V8: 341 hp, 373 lb-ft of torque
  • 2.8-litre I4 diesel: 181 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity range: 6,787 litres (Regular length) – 8,054 litres (Extended length)
  • Maximum payload (Cargo): 1,367 lbs – 1,869 lbs
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Sprinter was the first European-style van offered in Canada and will add an all-electric version in the near future.

It comes as a cargo van with three lengths and two roof heights; as a crew van in two lengths with high-roof; and a 12- or 15-passenger van in two lengths with high-roof. It also comes as a cab chassis. A four-wheel-drive configuration is available for all three vans, except that the 4×4 passenger version comes in only one length.

Passenger vans come in 2500, while cargo and crew vans come in 2500, 3500, 3500XD (higher-payload), and 4500 configuration.

Depending on the configuration, engine choices are a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with a nine-speed automatic, or a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine with a seven-speed automatic. Standard features include trailer hitch pre-wiring, auxiliary heater, above-windshield shelf, keyless entry, and Crosswind Assist, which uses the electronic stability program to help keep the vehicle straight when hit with gusts of wind on the highway.

2021 Mercedes-Benz_Sprinter Cargo Van. Photo: Daimler AG

The Specs:

  • 2.0-litre I4: 188 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque
  • 3.0-litre V6 diesel: 188 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity range: 9,034 litres (Regular) – 15,083 litres (Extended)
  • Maximum payload: 3,318 lbs – 4,488 lbs
Mercedes-Benz Metris

While not in the same segment as others mentioned here, Metris is Canada’s only midsize commercial van, slotting between full-size and compact vans. It’s a popular choice as a smaller, more upscale shuttle, or for jobs where a full-size van won’t fit, such as in underground garages, but with more cargo capacity than a compact van.

It comes as a cargo van, in regular or long-wheelbase; and as a passenger van with regular wheelbase. Its seven-passenger seating can be optioned to eight. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

2021 Mercedes-Benz Metris. Photo: Daimler

The Specs:

  • 2.0-litre I4: 208 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity: 5,179 litres (Regular) – 5,614 litres (Extended)
  • Maximum payload: 2,271 lbs – 2,701 lbs
Nissan NV

Nissan is getting out of the commercial market. Its full-size NV cargo and passenger vans end production in the summer of 2021 and will remain on sale until the supply runs out.

The NV is body-on-frame, based on the Titan pickup’s chassis. Cargo vans come in 1500, 2500, and 3500 configurations, with standard or high roof, while the passenger van seats 12 and is a 3500 with a standard roof. Depending on the model, engine choices are a 4.0-litre V6 with a five-speed automatic transmission or a 5.6-litre V8 with a seven-speed automatic.

2021 Nissan NV. Photo: Nissan

The Specs:

  • 4.0-litre V6: 261 hp, 281 lb-ft of torque
  • 5.6-litre V8: 375 hp, 387 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity: 6,626 litres (Regular roof) – 9,147 litres (High roof)
  • Maximum payload: 2,620 lbs – 3,550 lbs
Ram ProMaster

For 2021, the Ram ProMaster adds standard Crosswind Assist, which helps keep it straight in wind gusts. New available features include blind-spot monitoring, emergency front braking, and a segment-first digital rearview mirror.

The only front-wheel-drive van in the full-size segment, which gives it lower step-in, the ProMaster comes as the 1500 cargo van; 2500 or 3500 cargo or window van; and 3500 chassis cab or cutaway. Availability includes low or high roof and three wheelbase lengths, the longest also offered with an extended body.

All are powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard or available features include window rear doors, passenger swivel seat, side-wall panelling, media hub, and tire pressure monitoring display.

2021 Ram ProMaster. Photo: FCA

The Specs:

  • 3.6-litre V6: 280 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque
  • Maximum capacity: 7,334 litres (Short wheelbase/low roof) – 13,112 litres (Extended wheelbase/high roof)
  • Maximum payload: 4,000 lbs – 4,680 lbs
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