Vans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and just like people they can be hard to understand. Here is a simple glossary of terms used in the van industry to describe various types of vans.
Beavertail: A versatile van with a folding rear flap that doubles as a ramp, making it ideal for transporting small vehicles and garden machinery. It gets its name from its appearance as the folded down ramps can look like a beaver's tail.
Box van: A van with a large square load space, ideal for carrying bulky items. Box vans are usually completely square or rectangular and have huge carrying capacities. A box van body is also used to describe a solid walled trailer pulled by an HGV.
Car-derived van: A small van based on a car platform, with a low carrying capacity. These vans are ideal for small businesses that only need to carry a few items. A typical example of a car-derived van is the Toyota Corolla Commercial which looks like a car, but car platforms can be used and adopted to be more usable commercial vehicles like the Ford Transit Courier.
City van: The general term used for most small vans, typically under 2.5 tonnes and can carry around 700kg. Examples include the Ford Transit Connect, Volkswagen Caddy, and Vauxhall Combo. They get their name because, you guessed it, they are often found in cities.
Converted van: Any van that has been modified by a bodybuilder, ranging from refrigerated vans to Luton vans. One of the most popular conversions is for motorhomes, with the Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer being the most common choices.
Crew van or double cab: A van with an additional row of seats, usually consisting of a fixed bench in the second row with a solid bulkhead behind them. Most crew vans seat five to six people. They have a modest payload allowance because additional seats and occupants eat into the carrying capacity.
Curtainside van: These vans look like small trucks. They have a solid roof but use canvas or plastic-coated curtains along the side to protect the load they carry. The curtains can be pulled back to reveal the length of the loadspace which also allows forklift trucks to side load the vehicle.
Chassis cab: This is the name for a van without a body on the back of it. There is a cab mounted to the chassis. The chassis rails extened out of the back and this is where a range of different bodies can be added to the rear. Typical bodies include tipper, Luton and motorhomes.
Dropside: A van with hinged gates on the side, allowing for extremely easy access to the load bed. These vans are often used by gardeners and the building trade because of their easy access from all sides.
Electric van: A van powered by an electric motor that takes its energy from a battery. Electric vans, also known as EVs, emit zero emissions from their tail-pipe and are therefore generally thought to be less polluting. One of the first mass-market electric vans was the Renault Kangoo E-Tech popular electric models are now made by Maxus and Ford.
Flatbed: A simple flat load deck area without sides, regularly used in the construction industry and often with a crane mounted behind the cab or at the rear of the load deck. Flat bed vans will have tie-down points or lashing bars to ensure that sheets and straps can be used to secure the items being carried.
Four-wheel-drive van (4x4): Vans with four-wheel drive provide off-road access into fields, gravel roads and forested areas. These vans can be dedicated permanent 4x4s or versions that have selectable four-wheel drive. They are regularly used by utility companies that which to access sites like electrical substations or sewage treatment works. These provide an alternative to pick-up trucks with a contained and larger cargo area.
Hybrid vans: Hybrid technology is occasionally found in vans and usually use a small petrol engine to recharge a small battery. Most are capable of operating for a short distance as purely electric vehicles.
Luton van: A box van with an additional usable storage area above the cabin of the van, commonly used by removal companies, offering even more storage capacity and for long international travel a self-contained sleeping pod.
Microvan: These small vans are not as common as they used to be but are still popular in Asia where parking and space in urban areas is limited. Popular examples are limited but include the DFSK Loadhopper, DFSK EC35 and past models like the Toyota Hiace.
Minibus: Converted vans with seating options for usually 9 to 17 people, similar to the ones used in schools. These are generally based on large vans or medium vans, but have more seats than regular passenger carrying vans.
Panel van: The general term used to describe a generic van. The sort of van that has solid metal sides and doors that open at the rear and side. As a general rule, all of our van reviews are of panel vans.
Pick-up: A commercial vehicle with a cabin, seperate load area and usually a four-wheel-drive drivetrain. Many variants can have single cabs, double cabs, or XL cabs that get a small amount of rear storage inside the cabin where the rear seats would normally be. Often there are options for hard tops and roller covers to make the load space secure and watertight.
Quadricycle: These are not technically vans or cars. A quadricycle is a small vehicle that is speed limited to less that 28mph. It doesn't have to conform to the same crash test regulations as a car of van. The electric Citroen Ami Cargo is an example of a quadricycle van.
Temperature controlled van (aka fridge van): Refrigerated vans can come in all shapes and sizes and are used to move anything from online food shopping to important medical supplies. These vans can have frozen, chilled, or ambient sections and operate at a range of temperatures.
Tipper: Vans used most often used in the construction trade. They have a hydraulic ram under their load bed to allow them to eject materials. There is often a hinged tailgate or side gate. Materials are usually ejected out of the rear of the body, but depending on the position of the hydraulic tipping equipment, it is also possible to eject sideways.
Transporter: A van used to transport cars. Van-based car transporters are often only capable of moving one car at a time. Transporters can be flat beds with tail ramps, or have slide decks that lower a platform to the ground to allow the car to be driven or winched onto it. The entire platform is then loaded onto the transporter. This type of transporter enables really low profile cars, like supercars, to be recovered without the need to drive them up steep ramps.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, a Luton van is not one that is built in Luton. But this guide to Luton vans will tell you all you need to know about these large and versatile vans include Luton van dimensions, Luton van weights and types of Luton van.
You’ll most likely come across a Luton van when moving house but a Luton is actually designed for any sort of dry freight. A Luton van is also known as a Luton box van and tend to have a massive load volume.
Usually based on a 3.5-tonne large van, they are about a big as a van gets and are characterised by they peaked front. That’s why they can also be called a Luton Peak van.
The peak front is an additional area that can be used for increasing storage. Or, it has been known for really long distance travel for Luton box vans to have the front section converted to a sleeping area – but you’re more likely to find that in a truck with a Luton body.
It’s not uncommon to find that most Luton vans have a tail lift fitted. Usually the sort of items being loaded into a Luton are large, unwieldy and heavy. Imagine trying to get a sideboard into a van – you’ve got a pretty high step to get it up to. A tail lift helps with loading and most rental Luton vans will have them fitted as standard.
A tail lift can come in all manner of weight lifting capacities. Be sure to read what yours is capable of, but generally they are more than capable of lifting most household items. Just be careful. Working at height is dangerous. Falling off a tail lift is no joke.
Luton vans come in a wide range of dimensions. But the dimensions of a Luton van will depend on the donor vehicle. Amongst the most popular Luton vans are Ford Transit Luton, Iveco Daily Luton and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Luton vans.
To see the size of a particular van you can look at the van dimensions page for panel vans. Or for the most popular vans there are dedicated pages so that you can find out the Ford Transit dimensions or the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter dimensions.
This is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. The problem is that when it comes to large Luton vans - those that are either built on oversized van chassis, or more commonly on truck chassis - there really are no limits. In fact, these are usually Luton trucks or Luton lorries, as they are built on HGV chassis.
Of course, there are limits, nothing is ever limitless in life. Here you are likely limited by the weight. But the body size of these sorts of vans can come in a variety of sizes. Generally speaking, though, a 7.5-tonne Luton will have an interior size of least 6m in length. The height can be well over 2.5m, and overall you can expect a load volume of around 32m3. That's around twice the volume of the largest panel van.
Common platforms for large Luton vans include the DAF LF and Iveco Eurocargo - both of which are trucks. The most common large Luton van won't be 7.5-tonnes, but the Iveco Daily is often used and comes close at 7.2-tonnes.
The main benefit of a large 7.5-tonne Luton van is that there is greater payload. The bodies tend to be made of lightweight plastics and when compared to a 3.5-tonne chassis you are getting around double the payload.
A typical Luton van with a 7.5-tonne GVW can carry around 3200kg, however, many have tail lifts which will reduce the payload to under 3-tonnes.
A Luton truck or van that is a 7.5 tonner will take enough for a two bedroom house. That means it's around 40 to 50 moving boxes, two or three sofas, a couple of beds, dinning room table and chairs and a few other bits.
The size of a 3.5 tonne Luton van is similar to that of a 7.5-tonne van. The key difference is that it can carry less weight.
The body size of a large Luton is surprisingly big. Typically the largest panel vans are 17m3 to as much as 20m3. But as a Luton van, which is built on a chassis cab, with a box body made from lightweight panels, you'll get 25-28m3. That's a big amount of space, and similar to a Luton truck, but the difference is weight. The payload allowance for a 3.5-tonne Luton is considerably lower - probably around 1200kg.
That makes Luton vans as 3.5 tonners more suited to moving the bulky but light items. Think of them as wardrobe movers.
A 3.5-tonne Luton van's dimensions allow it to move all manner of items, but you're probably talking about getting much of the content from a flat in there, rather than a house.
Expect the load area to be about 5m long, and around 2.2m high. There may or may not be a tail lift. Luton vans with tail lifts are more practical, but they will be able to carry even less weight.
As you'll have gathered, a Luton van's size can vary massively. On the whole they are pretty large. You'll find that most Luton vans are 20 cubic metres or more in size. They have a reasonable payload and they will be tall and wide to fit in the most awkward sizes of items.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has launched a new Engineered To Go conversion for the Crafter Luton van, featuring the Palfinger V500LQ tail lift, which is now available as a model in its own right.
The new off-the-shelf model of the Crafter Luton van from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles includes the Palfinger V500LQ tail lift, which has a 500kg lifting capacity on an aluminium load platform and is operated via dual controls on both the interior and exterior.
The off-the-shelf model means that customers no longer need to option the tail lift, with the standard-fit typically increasing residual values from £600 to £1,000. The Crafter Luton tail lift conversion is built on Volkswagen's chassis cab, which allows the van to be easily and safely adapted into multiple variations, including Dropside, Tipper, and Luton. The Palfinger V500LQ tail lift provides a 500kg lifting capacity on an aluminium load platform and is operated via dual controls on both the interior and exterior.
The Volkswagen Crafter chassis cab from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles can seat up to three people in its standard configuration, or up to seven people with the double cab option, both equipped with three-point seat belts and adjustable head restraints. The chassis cab comes in Startline trim, which includes features like Bluetooth, a full-size spare wheel, a 75-litre fuel tank, and driver assistance systems like Driver Alert and Front Assist with City Emergency Braking to enhance safety.
Customers can also choose to add the optional Business Pack, which includes air conditioning and an anti-theft alarm with interior monitoring, backup horn, and towing protection, among other features, starting from £1,380 (excluding VAT).
Additionally, the Crafter Dropside, Tipper, and Luton have been completed by Volkswagen's Premium Recognised Partner, Ingimex, and are available as off-the-shelf products through the Engineered To Go programme. This programme ensures the highest build quality, a three-year warranty, and certification to the latest standards.
The new off-the-shelf model, which starts from £45,690 excluding VAT.