The pickup truck has long been seen as the prototypical work vehicle in the United States. Nothing says ‘rugged individualism’ like a truck. But the traditional truck seems to be outpaced now by an unconventional yet smart choice: cargo vans.
Even a few years ago, there weren’t many options for cargo vans and they weren’t in their best shape and design. The domestics were built on top of a heavy pickup-truck chassis with old engine technology that guzzled gas, and their interiors were noted for their cramped cockpits and narrow cargo bays. For employees trying to find parts, make deliveries and keep cargo organized, these old cargo vans were painful compromises. Meanwhile, manufacturers poured money and research into the engines, cabs, and capabilities of full-size pickup trucks—and sold them to millions of businesses.
But the cargo van has several benefits over the pickup truck. Today there are dozens of cargo van options, if you count all the possible configurations among Nissan’s NV, Ford’s Transit and Mercedes’ revamped Sprinter, plus two Ram ProMasters. One of the most important benefits offered by a cargo van is that it is enclosed. Thus, it offers more theft protection so you don’t have to carry your tools inside at every job-site or keep a close watch on your vehicle when you’re stopping for lunch. Also, a van’s enclosed cargo area keeps its load safe from bad weather, which is a big deal for drivers in some professions, who carry a lot of items that shouldn’t get wet.
A cargo van also allows you to be a lot more organized than you would be in a pickup. While you’ll probably resort to just throwing tools in your pickup bed until you can get home and unload them, cargo vans usually offer interior organizational features such as shelves or drawers that can help you stay organized as they are easily customizable.
Even though a cargo van might not be the first or obvious choice for your business, if your line of work requires or values cargo security and all-weather protection, mobile workshop capability, or the ability to carry large or bulky payloads, a cargo van could prove to be a more practical choice than a pickup.