10 Different Types of Vans

Different Types of Vans

The different types of vans available are a fascinating segment of the automotive world.

They offer a wide range of shapes, sizes, and styles. Found in various parts of the world, these vehicles serve different purposes and exhibit unique designs, making them both intriguing and practical.

Whether you’re familiar with MPVs, minivans, microvans, or panel vans, each type of van has its intended function and visual appeal.

Vans have become integral to many societies, from transporting people to carrying cargo, and industries have developed around these versatile vehicles.

Join me as we explore the different types of vans and their fascinating features.

1. Full-size Van

Full-size Van

A full-size van is a large, square-shaped vehicle that can serve as a cargo van or a people carrier.

It is wider and longer than a VW Kombi bus, and its boxy shape provides ample interior space.

Full-size vans are commonly used by tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, and carpenters due to their significant carrying capacity for tools and supplies. 

They often have a double-wheel axle in the rear to accommodate heavier loads.

The cargo area is typically accessible from the cab through sliding doors or double-opening rear doors.

Additionally, full-size vans can be converted into camping vehicles, offering seating for 8 to 15 people.

They have become popular among adventurers seeking a versatile and spacious travel option.

2. Step Van

Step Van
by Ezra.Wolfe is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A step van is a unique type of van that is commonly found in the USA.

It is one of the different vans primarily used for local deliveries by postal services and courier companies like FedEx.

Its walk-in design sets a step van apart, with no separate doors for the cab. Instead, a side door behind the cab leads into the vehicle’s interior.

This feature allows the driver to walk into the van, hence the name “step van.”

Step vans are designed for efficient package delivery. They usually have a spacious cargo area accessible through the side door or rear double doors.

Some models also have rear double doors for loading larger packages.

While step vans are not commonly used as people carriers, they are popular for their practicality in transporting goods and small packages.

Step vans are rarely seen outside the USA and have become an iconic part of the local delivery landscape.

Their distinctive design and functionality make them well-suited for urban environments, where maneuverability and easy access to the cargo area are essential.

3. Box Van

Box Van
by Curtis Gregory Perry is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A box van is a type of van that features a separate cab from the cargo area. It is often considered a crossover between a panel van and a small truck.

Box vans are typically built on the chassis of panel vans and can resemble small cargo trucks.

They are designed with a box-like cargo area that provides ample space for transporting goods.

Box vans often incorporate the Luton body design, where the enclosed cargo area extends over the cab’s roof.

This design allows for increased cargo capacity. The cargo bay of a box van usually has two access points, with a single side door or double doors at the rear of the cargo area.

Due to their smaller size compared to larger trucks, box vans are well-suited for navigating city traffic and narrow streets.

They are commonly used as small moving vans when people relocate their household goods or for commercial purposes where efficient cargo transportation is required.

Some popular examples of box vans include the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter panel van and the Ford Transit panel van chassis, the foundation for many box van models.

Overall, box vans provide a practical transportation solution while maintaining maneuverability in urban areas.

4. Panel Van

Panel Van
by sv1ambo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A panel van is a type of van that is fully enclosed and primarily designed for carrying cargo.

It was originally developed to navigate narrow city streets while offering a spacious cargo area.

Panel vans have evolved over time, with vehicle manufacturers designing them specifically for cargo transportation. 

They often feature sliding side doors and double-opening rear doors to facilitate loading and unloading.

Many courier companies prefer panel vans for delivering small packages to customers. 

In recent years, panel vans have also gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts looking to know the different types of vans to convert them into camping vehicles by customizing the cargo area to include sleeping areas and storage for camping gear.

The Ford Transit panel van is a well-known model frequently used for conversions due to its ample cargo space.

5. Microvan

by SqueakyMarmot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A microvan is a small version of a minibus van characterized by its compact size and capacity to transport a limited number of people.

These adorable vehicles, sometimes called “little puppy” versions of minibus vans, have gained popularity in certain regions like China. 

They typically have two standard front doors and sliding doors on each side for passengers to board or disembark.

Microvans were designed to navigate narrow city streets while accommodating more passengers than a standard cars.

However, due to their compact design, they haven’t been widely exported to other parts of the world.

6. Minibus Van

Minibus Van
by andreboeni is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A minibus van is one of the different types of vans that has been adapted into a configuration of a small bus.

It is designed primarily as a people carrier and can transport many passengers, often up to 16 people.

The concept of the minibus van originated from the iconic VW Kombi, which was Volkswagen’s original van and sparked the development of this vehicle category.

Minibus vans are commonly used as taxis in many countries throughout Africa and Asia, where they are referred to as minibus taxis.

They are also popular as company staff buses or vehicles for collecting guests from the airport.

In the tourism industry, minibus vans are frequently utilized as touring vehicles due to their large windows, which provide ample viewing opportunities for tourists.

Manufacturers such as Toyota, Isuzu, and Nissan have produced models with the minibus van configuration to cater to the minibus market.

The Toyota HiAce and Quantum series and the Nissan E-series vehicles are popular models in this category.

It’s worth noting that minibus vans are less common in Europe or the USA than other types of vans. However, some of these vehicles have found their way to these regions.

The minibus van serves as a versatile and practical option. Option for transporting a larger number of people comfortably and efficiently.

7. Minivan

by MSVG is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A minivan type of van falls within the MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) class. It is commonly used as a people carrier rather than a cargo transporter.

In the United States, the term “minivan” is often used to refer to the larger people carrier vehicles in the MPV class.

However, it can also describe the entire range of MPV classes, with size specifiers such as compact minivans or small minivans.

Minivans, one of the different types of vans, are designed to provide ample seating capacity and comfortable transportation for families or groups.

They typically have a spacious interior with multiple seats and are equipped with sliding side doors for easy access.

Some minivans also offer features like rear-seat entertainment systems, flexible seating configurations, and advanced safety technologies.

These vehicles are often associated with the term “soccer mom” in the United States, as they are popular choices for parents who need a reliable and versatile vehicle to transport their children to various activities and events.

Minivans are known for their practicality, convenience, and relatively fuel-efficient performance.

Popular minivan models include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica, and Kia Sedona.

These vehicles cater to the needs of larger families or individuals who prioritize passenger comfort and cargo space.

8. Mini MPV

Mini MPV
by Toyota UK is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A mini MPV is a smaller van class among the different types of vans primarily used as a people carrier rather than for cargo transportation.

These vehicles are often called “tall hatchbacks” because they resemble larger versions of hatchback cars. 

They come in configurations with either two- or three-seat rows, accommodating a limited number of passengers.

Some mini MPVs feature sliding doors for easy passenger access, while others have standard car doors.

Mini MPVs still provide practical transportation options for individuals or small families.

9. Compact MPV

Compact MPV
by harry_nl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A compact MPV is a type of van that falls within the MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) vehicle class.

It is smaller than other MPVs and is more commonly found in European countries. The Ford C-Max is an example of a compact MPV.

Compact MPVs are designed primarily as people carriers rather than cargo transporters.

They typically have a seating configuration that can accommodate around six passengers.

The front row has two passenger seats alongside the driver seat, and the back row can seat three people.

Some compact MPVs may have a third row of seats, but the space is limited and usually suitable for small children.

These different types of vans are known for their practicality and versatility, balancing the compact size and passenger capacity.

They generally provide a comfortable and spacious interior for passengers.

They are well-suited for urban driving due to their smaller dimensions, making them easier to maneuver in congested city streets.

It’s worth noting that the popularity and availability of compact MPVs may vary depending on the region, with European countries often having a wider selection of models in this category compared to the USA.

10. Multi-Purpose Vehicle or MPV

Multi-Purpose Vehicle
by MSVG is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Multi-Purpose Vehicle or MPV is among the different types of vans that encompass various roles.

MPVs come in different sizes, ranging from small trucks to smaller than standard cars, highlighting the diversity in design and purpose.

In the USA, MPV refers to a people carrier, typically the largest class in the MPV category.

Compact MPV and mini MPV are other sizes within this class. For example, the Chrysler Pacifica is a luxury MPV available as a gasoline-powered or hybrid model.

MPVs are crucial in transporting people and goods, making them an integral part of our cities.


The world of vans offers various options, each with a unique design, purpose, and appeal.

From multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) that cater to various roles to microvans, which are adorable in their compactness, there is something for everyone. 

Vans have left an indelible mark on industries worldwide, revolutionizing sectors like the taxi industry in Africa.

Whether it’s the luxurious comforts of a high-end MPV or the practicality of a cargo van, these different types of vans continue to enrich our automotive landscape.

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