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Market overview: affordable vans with combustion engines

The once broad field of family vans has almost been buried by SUVs. We went in search of the rest and found what we were looking for.

It's the year 1999. The readers of auto motor und sport choose the VW Sharan as the best car of the year, Bayern Munich wins the German soccer championship as usual and at Opel they put a milestone in the brand's history in the limelight , the brand new Zafira. And with its clever seating system, it goes straight into the hearts of small and large families.

The van wave has died down

Today, 23 years later, there is no longer any trace of the van enthusiasm of the 1990s. Opel belongs to Stellantis, today's Zafira is a full-fledged panel van and only available with an electric motor. Elsewhere, the little Cleverlys were discontinued altogether. The van wave was buried by the much more violent SUV wave, which continues to this day. 20 years ago, vans still had a market share of over ten percent and the off-road segment just six percent of the total German market. Today the ratio is 39 percent for SUVs and only three percent for practical space vehicles.

Price-breaker space vehicle in the video: The new Dacia Jogger

The fact that this happened is due to both the manufacturers (more profit margin) and the buyers (cooler image) of the SUVs. And the fact that a significant proportion of SUVs are in fact just vans in disguise: high seating position and easy entry, spacious passenger compartment, variable seat design - precisely the properties that made small and large vans once so popular. A few glued-on bump strips in an off-road look do not change this fact.

The downside of this development: If you are primarily looking for a practical and affordable transport container, your cards are getting worse and worse because the SUVs are consistently positioned higher in price. Especially since many manufacturers have started to electrify their vans - see Citroën Berlingo, Opel Zafira or Kia Soul, of course it doesn't get any cheaper.

Nevertheless, some models are (still) stubbornly staying in the range, although other vans are threatened with extinction here too. VW has now eliminated all diesels from the Sharan and only offers the former car of the year as a 150 hp petrol engine.

Nevertheless, we still counted 28 small and large vans with combustion engines, which we present to you in the picture gallery with the most important technical data and prices. Sometimes it helps to look in the commercial vehicle corner.Because there you can still find numerous glazed station wagons in a wide variety of sizes, which do not attract with luxury gimmicks, but with robust equipment and family-friendly tariffs. For example, you save around 30,000 euros when you go for the VW T6 as a combi-transporter instead of the T6 Multivan - that's one word.

Many SUVs are actually vans

By the way: With all the lamentation about the end of vans, a look at SUVs can definitely be worthwhile. When viewed soberly, numerous models have as much to do with off-road as a Toyota Prius with a racetrack; in fact, they are actually vans with camouflage paintwork. Examples of this are three models, the Citroën C3 Aircross , the Hyundai Bayon and the Peugeot 5008 .


Compact and large vans were once considered all-purpose vehicles for families - robust, versatile and budget-friendly. But the triumph of the SUV has fundamentally turned the market inside out. Anyone looking for a van model with an affordable combustion engine today still has quite a selection to choose from, as our list of almost 30 different models from all price and size classes shows.


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