With a host of different van bodystyles available, we wanted to provide potential customers with a guide to understanding each type of commercial vehicle (CV).

Commercial vehicles are great for those needing a suitable method of transport for work purposes, so it helps to know which type of van is right for you.

Panel van


Panel vans are the most common commercial vehicle bodystyle on roads in the UK, with many favouring their ability to carry a substantial load while also being easy to drive.

The dimensions of a panel van make it easy to navigate city streets, while the power available makes long-distance or high-speed driving a breeze.

Such is the popularity of this particular van bodystyle, every major European vehicle manufacturer has a panel van in their model line-up.

Panel vans are distinguished by their box-shaped rear end and large square loading space. Models also do not have windows on the side or rear.

Those driving a panel van should attach larger side mirrors to their model, in order to compensate for the lack of side and rear windows.

Some popular examples of panel vans in the current UK CV market include the Ford Transit, Vauxhall Vivaro and Volkswagen Caddy.



A double-cab-in-van is recognised by an extra fixed row of seats at the back, as well as the two or three seats in the front row. A fitted glazed bulkhead is then fitted to separate the second row of seats from the van’s loadspace.

Thanks to the addition of the separating window, a double-cab-in-van offers more visibility than a standard panel van.

The downside with a double-cab-in-van is the reduced loadspace, as the extra seats take up some of the loading bay’s room.

However, for those who want to carry more than one or two passengers in addition to their load, a double-cab-in-van is ideal.

One popular iteration of such a commercial vehicle bodystyle is the Ford Transit Double-Cab-in-Van, which is available with a range of wheelbases and roof heights.



As with a double-cab-in-van, a Combi features an extra row of seats behind the front. The main difference, however, is that Combi vans have more flexible seating arrangements and also feature windows at the side.

By including windows on either side of the rear row of seats, Combi vans have clearer visibility all around.

In comparison with a popular panel van, the loading area is much smaller in a Combi. For this reason, a Combi van is more suited to those needed a versatile passenger vehicle, as it focuses more on flexible seating arrangements than loadspace.

Those looking for a flexible Combi van can receive a free quote on popular, stylish models such as the Fiat Fiorino Combi and the Nissan NV200 Combi.



A minibus is designed to carry a large number of passengers and, as such, is available with a longer wheelbase and more seats.

Typically, minibuses come equipped with eight or more seats – for example, the Ford Transit Minibus is available with either 9, 14 or 17 seats.

As such models transport numerous passengers over long distances, manufacturers are increasingly trying to fit their models with more fuel-efficient engines.

Popular commercial vehicles-turned-minibuses include the ever-popular Ford Transit, the Vauxhall Movano and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Transfer.

Dropside van


Those who need to transport large and/or heavy items should consider a dropside van. The large, open load area makes carrying long items easier than with a panel van, for example.

A dropside van is perfect for carrying long items such as pipes and planks of wood, along with heavy items such as barrels.

Such models feature folding side panels surrounding the load area, which makes unloading and loading large items easier.

The loading height of dropside vans has also been designed to be convenient for moving items into and out of the loading bay.

An example of a dropside van is the Renault Master Dropside van and the Volkswagen Crafter dropside.

Tipper van


A tipper van is similar in design to the aforementioned dropside van, with the main difference being a hydraulic ram that can raise the load area.

Tipper vans are more expensive than a dropside model due to the additional technology needed for the hydraulic ram.

As with the dropside van, tipper vans feature a wide open-top load area that is perfect for transport large and heavy items.

When load items need to be removed, customers can either drop the side of the load area, as with a dropside van, or raise the area with the hydraulic ram before removing the load. This makes removing load such as rubbish or gravel easier.

Most manufacturers that offer dropside vans also include a tipper van in their commercial vehicle range. Such examples include the Volkswagen Crafter, Vauxhall Movano, Ford Transit, Renault Master and Citroën Relay.

Chassis cab


Chassis cabs are commonly found on larger van models on sale in the UK today and the basic bodystyle allows customers flexibility when it comes to converting their van.

A chassis cab can provide a solid yet flexible foundation for a business, with this type of commercial vehicle able to be converted into anything from a tipper to an ambulance to a motor home.

Such van models are available as either a single or double chassis cab – the latter offering an extra row of seats in the back, at the expense of a shorter load area.

A basic cab is offered to customers with just the chassis rails behind, rather than a pre-assembled container or load area. This allows customers to easily install equipment for other purposes in addition to transporting goods.

Ford’s popular Transit van is available as a chassis cab, along with the Renault Master, Volkswagen Crafter, Fiat Ducato and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Pick-up truck


Popular in America, the pick-up truck is a light commercial vehicle with enough room for passengers within and a sizeable, open loading area in the back.

Numerous van bodystyles are produced by modifying existing CVs, while pick-up trucks are factory-built with a specific design and load area in mind.

Pick-up trucks offer 4x2 and 4x4 drivelines and a range of seat configurations. For example, Ford’s award-winning Ranger model is available with the following seating configurations: 2, 2+2 and 5.

Examples of pick-up trucks available in the UK include the aforementioned Ford Ranger, the Toyota Hilux, the Nissan Navara and the Mitsubishi L200.