The Most Efficient Full-Size Cargo Van

So, you want to know which van is the most efficient cargo van. Whether you are buying work vans for a fleet or hitting the road in a van life conversion, efficiency is one of the most important boxes to tick. Full-size-cargo van efficiency doesn’t just stop at gas mileage. Comparing commercial van cargo capability and pairing the best of the best in terms of efficient space with good gas mileage is key.

white Mercedes sprinter van driving down a forested road
Mercedes Sprinter | Mercedes-Benz

Out of popular choices such as the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Nissan NV, or Ram ProMaster it’s important to research the overall efficiency before making the choice to buy. As these full-size vans are so popular among business owners and travelers alike, they are designed for high mileage driving. They are also intended to haul hefty loads. Which cargo van is the most efficient?

Which big cargo van hauls the most?

The full-size commercial cargo van segment offers four mainstream options. The Ford Transit is the most popular in terms of sales, according to Good Car Bad Car. The second most sold full-size cargo van is the Ram ProMaster. Followed by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Nissan NV.

Of these four commercial vans, the 2020 Ford Transit offers the most cargo space with 542.2 cubic feet–– according to CarBuzz. Then the 2020 Sprinter with a maximum cargo capacity of 532.6 cubic feet. The 2020 ProMaster in its largest configuration has a maximum cargo of 462.9 cubic feet. In last place, the Nissan NV in its largest model can handle 323.1 cubit feet of cargo space.

a white ford transit commercial van towing a trailer
2020 Ford Transit | Ford Media

Commercial van towing specs

Each of these full-size vans can tow a decent load. That plus roomy cargo make a solid argument in terms of efficiency. The Nissan NV commercial van is the king of the towing mountain. CarBuzz reports a 9,400 pound maximum towing capacity. However, for some that doesn’t make up for its accommodating the smallest amount of cargo.

white high roof Nissan Cargo van
Nissan NV | Nissan Media

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter tows up to 7,500 pounds and the Ram ProMaster can pull up to 6,910 pounds. CarBuzz also notes that the every level of the ProMaster van comes equipped with a tow hitch. The Ford Transit can tow up to 6,900 pounds.

Which van has the heaviest payload?

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van has the best payload rating, according to CarBuzz. The Ram ProMaster and the Ford Transit come in as the middle-of-the-pack contenders with payloads of 4,680 pounds and 4,530 pounds respectively. Then the Nissan NV holds up the rear again with a modest max payload of 3,850 pounds.

the bulbous face of a white parked ProMaster
Ram ProMaster | Ram Trucks

Fuel economy

These four full-size cargo vans are large commercial vehicles and don’t have an official EPA rating. However, CarBuzz reports that the entire segment has similar real world gas mileage. The best will obviously come from the Mercedes Sprinter’s diesel engine and the Ford Transit’s EcoBoost. These get 14-17 mpg and 16-20 mpg respectively. The 2020 Ford Transit’s EcoBoost now employs a stop-start mechanism to improve city driving efficiency.

The Ram ProMaster’s V6 will get about 16.5 combined mpg and the Nissan NV comes in last place with 13-14 mpg. The Nissan’s mpg is lower with the V8. Overall, the Ford Transit is probably the most efficient in terms of fuel economy. The Sprinter offers a slightly higher average with the diesel, but the Ford Transit now has an extended fuel tank option which can be a game changer for long work days or overland adventures.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van | Mercedes

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Which van is the most efficient?

While the 2020 Ford Transit is a class leader in terms of cargo space and fuel economy, the Mercedes Sprinter has a more complete package. A high towing capacity plus spacious cargo paired with great diesel fuel mileage and a class-leading maximum payload. The Nissan NV is only more efficient if you need something that can tow larger loads, but its efficiency stops there.

The Ram ProMaster is the middle man with specs similar to the Ford Transit. Slightly lower fuel economy cause the ProMaster to lag a bit behind, though. Overall the diesel engine Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is the most efficient full-size cargo van.