When your family grows to a certain size, practicality becomes everything. This is especially true if you’ve got an active brood who are happiest when they’re spending the weekend outdoors. 

It’s at this point of your life that you might decide a car - even a large one like an estate or SUV - simply isn’t big enough. It’s time to get a family van. 

Previously considered the preserve of tradespeople like builders or plumbers, vans are becoming increasingly popular with families, especially for those that love activities such as camping or mountain biking (or both) and… of course surfers, all of which need lots of equipment. In fact, in some circles, vans have become quite trendy.

Their increased popularity has been helped by the addition of comforts you’d expect in a car, such as air-conditioning and automatic gearboxes. 

In fact, switch to a van and you’ll probably soon wonder how you ever coped without it. Here are some of the advantages of choosing a van rather than a car.

One of the key benefits is the additional seating behind the front seats, this is increasingly popular and is known as a crew van. So, we’ve included some of the most popular crew vans available below. 

Plenty of space

Just think of all that space. No more stressing about having enough room for your kids, shopping, camping equipment or whatever else you might need. Instead, you have the perfect vehicle for family trips and adventures. 

Also, as vans tend to have nice wide boot openings and lower floors, loading yours up with heavy items should be a cinch too.

Versatility and customisation

Part of the appeal of a family van is the versatility they can offer. Depending on the model, you may be able to change how many seats are in certain rows or fold the seats back if you need more storage, and some seats can even swivel.

You could go a step further and convert your van to suit your exact needs, even if it’s just to add in shelves or bicycle mounts. If you wanted to take things a step further, camper van conversions are particularly popular.

Plus, a van could be much easier to modify than a car should you need to make it wheelchair accessible. 

Suitable for work and play

Even if you consider your vehicle a family motor, that’s not to say it couldn’t double up as work vehicle too. Perhaps now is the time to start that florist or delivery business you always dreamed of?

Bear in mind that if you use your van for a purpose other than the one you stated on your insurance policy, your cover may be invalidated. Make sure you have the right van insurance to suit your needs.

Choosing a family van

Make sure you cover off your basic needs when deciding which van to get. How many passengers do you need space for? What sort of journeys will you be going on? These are the sorts of questions you should ask yourself before buying a family van. 

One popular option with families is a ‘crew‘ van, as these offer an extra row of seating behind the front seats. 

Here are some of the most popular models available. 

Ford Transit Custom

The Ford Transit Custom has consistently been the UK's best-selling van. In fact, it was the best-selling vehicle in the UK in the first half of 2021, beating all new cars[1].

Auto Express says it’s their favourite medium-sized panel van and is a great all-rounder[2].

Volkswagen Transporter Kombi

The Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 Kombi is another popular van with families. 

Parkers says it has an ‘appealing combination of image, practicality and choice’[3]

Heycar notes that the Kombi holds its value better than many of its rivals[4].

Renault Trafic Crew Van

Vanarama notes that through clever design, Renault have equipped the Renault Trafic with adequate room for both passengers and load space[5].

What Car? says it is a good all-rounder with play points including generous equipment levels, innovative features and an efficient engine[6].

Vauxhall Combo Life

Is it a van or is it a car? It’s hard to tell with the Vauxhall Combo Life – call it a van-derived people-carrier.

Either way, What Car? says it offers families masses of space and a huge boot for a relatively modest price[7], while dealership Evans Halshaw notes it’s as economical to run as it is to buy[8].

Peugeot Partner

The Peugeot Partner was the joint winner of the Parkers Small Van of the Year Award in 2021 and 2020. It wins praise for its good value, driving experience, technology and high payload ratings[9].

The vehicle is available in two sizes, standard and long, or can also be specified as a crew cab that can transport up to four passengers[10].

Could your next family vehicle be a van?

Read more about choosing the best vehicle for you and your family at Solved.


[1] https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/2021-h1-ford-transit-custom-outsell-cars/

[2] https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/ford/transit-custom

[3] https://www.parkers.co.uk/vans-pickups/volkswagen/transporter/2015-review/

[4] https://heycar.co.uk/guides/best-crew-cab-vans

[5] https://www.vanarama.com/van-reviews/renault-trafic-review.html

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRhIzXz1-WM

[7] https://www.whatcar.com/vauxhall/combo-life/mpv/review/n17869

[8] https://www.evanshalshaw.com/blog/best-vans-with-5-seats/

[9] https://www.parkers.co.uk/vans-pickups/peugeot/partner/2019-review/

[10] https://www.whatcar.com/peugeot/partner/van/review/n20209