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Cargo Van Styling Goes Euro

Originally published: 06.01.13 by HVACR Business Staff


Taller, boxier cargo vans will offer smaller engines and alternative fuel options


First it was the Sprinter in 2004. Then came Nissan’s NV Cargo van in 2010. Now, both Ford and Ram will introduce “Euro-style” cargo vans to the U.S. market for model year 2014. Meanwhile, GM will continue to offer its traditional full-size work vans: the GMC Savana and the Chevy Express.

The so-called “Euro-style” vans are lighter, taller and boxier, offering more cargo space, smaller engines and greater fuel-efficiency. One feature of “Euro-style” cargo vans is higher interior roof heights. Traditional full-sized van ceiling heights average about 53”. Sprinter’s standard interior ceiling height is a full foot higher at 65”, and its high-roof option is nearly a foot higher than that at 76”. Standard ceiling height for Nissan’s NV Cargo is about 56” and its high-roof option is nearly 77”. The new Ram ProMasters will match Sprinter ceiling heights, while the Transit will offer three roof options: 56”, 72” and 81.5”.

Other trends for work vans include smaller engines and alternative fuel options. V8 engines are being replaced with fuel-efficient V6 models, and automakers are beginning to offer conversion options that allow vehicles to be powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane gas (LPG).

Here’s a run-down of “Eurovans” contracting business owners and fleet
managers can choose from when purchasing new vehicles later this year and next year.


NEW: 2014 Ford Transit
Ford’s 2014 full-size Transit van, which will eventually replace its 53-year-old E-series vans, provides tradesmen with fuel economy, new configurations and versatility. Gone is the V8 engine, replaced with smaller, more efficient V6 engines that are CNG/LPG convertible. Options include a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine and a 3.2-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel five-cylinder engine.

Contractor-Friendly Features:

  • The high-roof version will provide 80 percent more cargo volume than the E-Series
  • The rear doors swing open a full 270° for easier loading of cargo
  • Cargo versions are designed for easy fitting of shelves and racks
  • High-roof version available for walk-in accessibility
  • Folding and sliding door options
  • MyFord Touch and navigation displayed on 6.5-inch touch screen

NEW: 2014 Ram ProMaster
With unibody construction and front-wheel drive, the 2014 Ram ProMaster will be available in 13 different configurations and boasts best-in-class fuel economy, cargo capacity, ceiling height, step-in height and low load floor. Standard engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, while a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel four-cylinder engine with 174 HP is optional.

Contractor-Friendly Features:

  • Each of the three available openings into the cargo area is wide enough to allow a forklift to load and unload pallets easily
  • The hinged rear clamshell doors open up 26
  • 17 tie down rings built into the floor of the cargo area
  • Cargo volume of up to 530 cubic feet
  • High-roof version available for walk-in accessibility

REDESIGNED: 2013 Nissan NV Cargo
Launched in model year 2011, Nissan’s NV Cargo van is designed to function as a mobile office and workshop, with a variety of storage pockets, spaces and compartments for work gloves, tools, legal binders, paperwork and other items.  The standard 4.0-liter V6 engine offers 261 horsepower, while a 5.6-liter V8 option will give 317 horsepower.

Contractor-Friendly Features:

  • Tall roof version allows someone well over six foot to walk around upright in the back of the van
  • Cargo doors easily swing open around to the sides of the van
  • Convenient step-up for easy entry into cargo area 
  • Pre-drilled holes allow easily installation of racks and shelving
  • Out-front engine design allows for roomier cab
  • High-roof version available for walk-in accessibility

NEW: 2013 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo
Sacrificing cargo space and engine size to offer better fuel efficiency, the NV200 Compact is a smaller version of its big brother, the NV Cargo, and is new for the 2013 model year.


  • 2.0-liter  4-cylinder engine 
  • Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT®)
  • 122.7 cubic feet of cargo space
  • Mobile Office Style center console with storage
  • 20 interior integrated reinforced cargo-mounting points
  • Six exterior roof rack-mounting points
  • 180° maximum opening range for rear cargo doors

REDESIGNED: 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Perhaps in response to Ford’s Transit and Ram’s ProMaster, Mercedes-Benz has revamped its Sprinter, the pioneer of Euro-styled work vans in North America, for 2014. A new 2.1-liter 4-cylinder BlueTEC diesel engine, paired with a 7-speed transmission producing 161 horsepower, is now standard, while the optional 3.0-liter V6 BlueTEC is paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission for 188 horsepower.

Contractor-Friendly Features:

  • 6’ x 4’ 3” side-door entry and rear doors that open 270° for easier and faster loading
  • Up to 547 cu. ft. of cargo space
  • Interior standing height up to 6’ 6”
  • Upfitter friendly for easy conversion with shelving and racks
  • High-roof version available for walk-in accessibility
  • Optional Safety Assistance package with blind-spot monitoring and a collision-warning system
  • Navigation system and iPod integration

View Cargo Vans Comparison Chart