Vans are some of the most versatile vehicles on the road today. Millions of drivers from across the United States use vans for day-to-day transportation, for work-related activities and for the occasional holiday with the family. It should be clear that vans are much more than utility vehicles alone. Thanks to the addition of creature comforts including bucket seats, couches and even flat-screen televisions, riding or driving a van has never been more of an enjoyable experience. Let's take a closer look at vans in order to appreciate just how flexible these units can be.

Features and Advantages

The most obvious benefit of a van is the volume of the internal space that it offers to the driver and passengers. Vans can hold up to ten people in some cases and should a work van be purchased, volumes of goods and materials can be safely stored for transport. A robust chassis enables vans to handle a number of road conditions and many units can be equipped with four-wheel drive when required. Other unique features that are present on many models include:

  • Sliding side panel doors
  • Extra-wide swinging rear doors
  • Wide side-view mirrors
  • Excellent fuel efficiency

So, what choices will you have before deciding upon a specific make and model?

The Types of Vans

Vans can be classified by the number of people they can transport. For instance, the Ford Clubwagon 12-seater is obviously meant for larger parties while the Ford Galaxy 7-seater is slightly more compact. Besides this rather apparent observation, there are other variants on the market.

Conversion vans are arguably one of the most common types. These are heavily used within specialised trades such as construction and electrical work. As the name hints, these vans have been “converted” to accommodate additional equipment. Even the common ice cream truck can be considered a conversion van.

Medium wheel base vans are of an average size. They tend to be able to transport between five and eight people while vans with longer wheel bases (also known as extended vans) are more likely to be used when transporting between 10 and 12 passengers at a given time.

The Average Price Range

The price of the van will depend its size, the amenities that it contains and whether it is new or used. For the sake of this article, we will be looking at new models. For example, the price of a conversion van can range from anywhere between $28,000 and $80,000 dollars (depending upon how it was converted). As of 2016, the average price for a minivan is approximately $35,000 dollars (based upon the averages of high- and low-priced models). Extended vans can start as low as $31,000 dollars while luxury models can tip the financial scales at more than $47,000 dollars.

What Type of Driving License?

For regularly sized vans or minivans, the driver will not be required to obtain any type of specialized license. However, there can be times when a commercial driver's license (CDL) may be required. This can be the case if a van weighs more than 26,000 pounds or will be regularly towing in excess of 10,000 pounds. Most heavy-duty vans will fall into this category and if the unit is being used to transport hazardous materials, a CDL is almost always required by law.

Renting a Van

Due to the sheer variety of this type of vehicle, renting a van can be a very popular option. Assuming that you have a valid driving license and you are over 18 years of age, all states offer this service. Naturally, you can choose the make and model that suites your unique needs. Vans will often be rented when taking a long trip or when relocating to a new home. U-Haul is a perfect example of this service. Still, be sure to examine the van carefully and to read the paperwork before entering into any tyep of written contract with the lender.