The Toyota Proace is a great value compact van that's stylish, economical to run and very practical. It's the sister vehicle of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, and together the trio won What Van?’s medium van of the year award last year. Easy and enjoyable to drive, the Proace is also protected by Toyota's five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
The Proace comes in three lengths, and will carry a payload of up to 6.6 cubic metres or 1,400kg – that's three euro pallets – in a load bay up to 2.9m long. It will also tow up to 2,500kg.Twin sliding side doors, wide enough for a euro pallet on medium and long versions, are standard and combine with a low load sill to make getting cargo in and out easy. A light in the cargo area and a full steel bulkhead (which means the cabin warms up quickly on cold mornings)are also standard on panel vans.
The cabin is modern and comfortable, with a high driver's seat, two passenger seats in all models, a driver's armrest for comfort on long journeys and plenty of storage. A DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity is standard, which means you can work online from the cab. The Proace is also available as a six-seater crew cab, nine-seater combi or platform cab for conversions, or as the nine-seater Proace Verso people carrier. Compact Proace City and Proace City Verso versions also went on sale this year.
Like its siblings, the Proace is based on the Peugeot 308 platform, and as a result it drives like a family car, with good handling, responsive steering, and low road and engine noise. It's refined and quiet on the motorway, with supportive seats and a comfortable ride even when unladen. It's also great around town, where its small size and good all-round visibility make it extremely nimble and easy to manoeuvre – the smallest version has a turning circle of just 11.3m.At no more than 1.95m tall, you should be able to take it into a multi-storey car park too. There's a choice of two four-cylinder engines in the panel van, either a 1.6-litre or a 2.0-litre diesel, delivering up to 121bhp and 251lb ft of torque, and up to 54.3mpg.
Standard safety kit includes hill start assist, which prevents the van from rolling backwards, electronic stability control, front and side airbags and tyre pressure monitoring. Electric front windows, electric mirrors, a 12-volt socket and remote central locking are all also standard.