Using vans as family cars

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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447
Lancashire
We recently got an mpv for the extra space needed for family camps, cycling gear, bike trailers, etc. Whilst it worked out a slightly bigger volume than my old astra estate it didn't end up carrying much more gear. This has led us to thinking a crew cab van might be a good alternative. We did look at Kangoo types of cars based on vans but now we think a swb transit type van with double row of seats and side windows could be better. Does anyone use such a van day to day as the main or only family transport?
Now we've seen some such crew cab vans in everything from swb low roof to lwb high roof. However the one we saw was a swb crew cab that seemed like it was bigger than the Ford connect small van but looked a bit smaller than a full transit. Anyone know what it could be? To describe it better, it is small enough to be manageable parking in supermarkets but looks like more room for kit. Reckon full camping kit with bike trailer and even two adult bikes I think.

Anyway, what is your view of vans for family use? Family is two adults and one toddler (hence second row of seats for child seat without need to turn off airbags).
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
P.S. one day we intend to buy a full transit to modify as a campervan. That is later on and really a pipedream right now. Just line out with wood, perhaps false floor for storage and platform to make as a bed at night. Not a full campervan with permanent bed, shower, toilet,etc. Just a simple conversion that we can sleep in really that is the future and not with this can.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Bongos look good but out of our price range right now. Also we really need the van since it is actually.camping we like. We have a decent tent which we love and our little one absolutely loves. He has plenty of playing and running room if the weather is bad. Can't have that in a van like the bongo. Plus the other kit would never fit in it. We have bikes, child bike trailer, child bike seat, two bikes, largish tent with all the necessary and plenty of unnecessary camping kit. All needs to fit inside the van. We have the rear rack for bikes and the whole car is full inside apart from where the three of us sit. We've managed to leave the roof box behind with the switch to this MPV but we would like to put everything inside the vehicle without the need to stack kit around the child in his child seat.

To give you an idea, we even considered a double cab pickup but ruled it out because everything is outside and easy to nick. I know you can get a box for them but I reckon the bikes wouldn't fit in one.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I have a VW caddy maxi which I use as my daily car, no issues with car parks or anything.
Is that Ford transit sized or the smaller connect sized? I really need to compare to Ford vans. Years ago I used to define car size against the Ford equivalent. Because I don't know much about vans I revert to the Ford test for sizing purposes.

Could you get bikes in it too?
 

moocher

Full Member
Mar 26, 2006
402
16
45
Dorset
I had a p reg 2.4 d caravelle t4 lwb twin sliding doors,large boot 9 seats,and loved it,we had it for about 7 years,last year noticed it was looking tired ,so sold it,we had a hdi 806 and that was nice smaller easier to park,good on fuel,it devolped a problem and we sold it to wifes friend who was scrapping hers,looked for another and all the tidy ones was overpriced,and the sensible priced ones were rough. So we have made do with 2 berlingos,but we want a bigger vehicle,and wife is struggling with a manual,so been thinking of a auto Previa/lucida.?
 
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Badger74

Full Member
Jun 10, 2008
1,424
0
Ex Leeds, now Killala
We have a Citreon Grand Picasso. Its spacious for 5, like driving in an armchair and the 1.6 engine is economical; and packed to the Max, plus roof box, it still had a bit of pull and not sluggish.
 

nurvware

Tenderfoot
Aug 13, 2013
67
1
Wirral
I drive a vivaro daily. Got it when I thought of being a plasterer but that never happened and I went back to IT work. Most times its empty but I often use it to its potential when I carry kids, dog and four bikes. Also fill it the roof with pallets for wood burner. It doesn't have rear windows but I fitted extra seats out of a minibus so can carry 5 passengers, all I had to do was tell insurance it seats 6.

I have a daily dream of making it a stealth camper but not quite figured out the configuration. With rear seats fitted there is enough room for me to lie down( 6ft 1) but I would prefer a higher roof then I could build double bunks in the back for 4 of us.

If your a good driver and get a sense of the van size its easy to drive and park

Negatives from my point of veiw are: You have to have van (business) insurance (more expensive) even if you only drive social domestic.
Higher rates road tax compared to many cars.
You have to have a permit for the tip that limits you to 12 trips per year and you can only dispose of 2 bin bags or somthing daft, so I'm always looking out for local skips to dump my rubbish.
Can't always use multi storey carparks.

Other than that I love my van. If I won the lottery, I'd still drive a van, a fully loaded merc sprinter long wheelbase.
 
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Dogoak

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 24, 2009
2,040
93
Cairngorms
I had a Tranisit combi van about 20 years ago, before and since then, 4x4's. Just got a Hiace combi with windows all round, a few years old but only 48K on the clock. 2 seats up front and two in the back, normal roof height as I need to load my canoe, and it's green:cool:
The insurance was just over £200 fully comp. it's on a commercial policy but for social and domestic use only. I did have to justify why I need a van, similar situation the OP, no problems. Tax just over £200 a year.
No problem parking in a supermarket bay as it's a swb. Drives great and still gives me the higher seating position as I've been used to with the 4x4's. Plenty of space in the rear for the dogs and gear. I might swap the rears out for a rock n roll bed at some point in the future.
 
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janso

Full Member
Dec 31, 2012
609
5
Penwith, Cornwall
I've started looking at Transits myself funnily enough; moved my truck on as it wasn't needed and just burning fuel from road miles. I started looking at the Expert/ dispatch/ scudo size as some have three seats up front and thought a transit swb isn't that much bigger! It'll cover my work needs and room enough for stealth camping!! Still looking at the myriad of models but definitely a swb for me, 280 or smaller mgw.


Sent from my hidey hole using Tapatalk... sssh!
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
10,595
344
47
Wiltshire
My Father has a Vauxhall Zafira he uses as a van, (We go to S wales a lot and he didnt want to pay commerical rate on the bridge.)


It works well for him but I suspect you need something bigger!


Make sure they have a big enough engine, some Zafiras have weenie ones for small cars and are gutless.
 

Gumbob

Tenderfoot
Sep 22, 2005
82
3
52
Ayrshire
Just be aware that when changing from car insurance to van insurance (even if its useed as a car) some insurers wont transfer your no claims bonus. I Have a Nissan Almera Tino with rear seats removed and its big enough for everything I need, Including travel boxes for my birds of prey.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,015
447
Lancashire
We considered a citreon grand Picasso before we got our SEAT MPV. Auto with the gizmos but it really failed to impress. The car we got now actually has similar space. We're looking to put camping kit and two bikes. At the moment we fit all our kit into the car, including cycle trailer for 2 kids, with 2 bikes plus child seat on one bike mounted on a rear cycle carrier. The van is about getting it all inside the vehicle. By doing that we'd be quicker packing and away for quicker weekends away. Cars would not solve the bike carrying issue. We've looked at berlingo MPV/ vans but larger van is only realistic option.
One thing about Zafiras is how they seem to cost a lot more than their equivalents from other brands. It's the same way Ford focus estates used to cost 1k more than Astra estates for 4/5 year old models. You get cars close in spec and performance to the Zafira for less IME.

So far it looks like vans tend to be £225 typically for VED and you can get about 49mpg combined too. Seen 2.2 turbo diesels with 115 PS but also 1.6 TDs with 140PS and similar VED and mpg figures. It is very confusing van shopping. We've decided to keep the car and look again at vans when the usual buying cycle of 5 to 7 years of use. Probably look at a trailer. Think you can fit cycle racks to go on trailers. Without a trailer then towing hitch rack looks good option as access to boot is possible. For us the van idea is about ease of packing for trips away. For us the bike rack is annoying. Everything else needs careful packing. Would be great to just throw it all together and off we go.
 

dewi

Full Member
May 26, 2015
2,643
2
Cheshire
Halfway between the Connect and the Transit is the Transit Custom. Ugly looking thing and it really shouldn't have Transit anywhere near its name imho.

A good compromise between family car and van is an import, Mitsubishi Delica. 4x4, 2.8l diesel engine, 8 seats, but the seats can be folded away to fit a lot of stuff in it. They're fantastic as a towing vehicle, excellent green laners and solid as a rock in the winter months. Only downside is fuel consumption.