The Basics Of AWD Commercial Vans

There are only a few vehicle manufacturers that make all-wheel-drive (AWD) vans. They come in many different configurations of engines, wheel-bases, interior features, and technological options. AWD vans are frequently used in commercial settings because they offer a variety of options and advantages for certain types of businesses.

What Are AWD Commercial Vans Like?

AWD Vans share some of the same characteristics of other vans, and can also have additional features that most personal-use vans do not have. Most of the time, they are configured for the commercial tasks they will be performing.


The engines, transmissions, and other mechanical parts of many commercial vans are exactly the same as heavy duty trucks, so using a van doesn’t usually mean having less power. Payload weight capacity and bumper towing capacity is usually the same as their truck counterparts. The main difference between thr truck and the van is the body style.


Commercial vans can be either standard length or extended length for larger interior capacity. The difference in lengths is usually that a standard length is long enough for three rows of seating including the front captain’s chairs, plus a little bit of extra space behind the back seat for cargo. An extended van usually has capacity for 5 rows of seating, or 15 passengers. The wheel-base options are the same regardless of whether or not the van will be used to transport passengers or cargo.

All-Wheel Drive

Not all commercial vans have AWD capabilities. However, having all-wheel-drive can make all the difference in certain types of terrain, weather, or climate conditions. AWD commercial vans are designed for business that frequently encounter low-friction driving surfaces such as slippery or unstable surfaces.

Physical Features

Depending on the type of business it is used for, a commercial van may be equipped with ample seating, or have shelving or brackets for stabilizing portable equipment. Some models also have the option of an elevated roof that makes it possible for an adult to fully stand up inside the vehicle


Commercial vans can be packed with many technological options that aren’t usually found in personal-use vehicles. These options make a world of difference in regards to safety and efficiency. They can ultimately save time and money for your business by reducing the frequency of collisions and lock-out services, and by providing tools and conveniences that simplify and quicken tasks . Technology options available in some commercial van models are:

  • Rear-mounted camera that enables a clear view of what is behind the vehicle
  • Back-up alert or beeping that warns people that you are backing up
  • Back-up sensor that alerts the driver when the vehicle comes in close proximity to an object when driving in reverse
  • Wireless networking, printing, and internet capabilities
  • Keyless entry via keypad
  • Low voltage standard electrical outlet
  • Custom interior lighting
  • Built-in navigation system
  • Lift system for wheelchairs or cargo
  • Blue tooth wireless technology for certain phone types

What Types Of Businesses Use AWD Commercial Vans?

Vans have become a popular choice among many service businesses, and have replaced other types of vehicles. This is true for passenger-transporting services as well as many other types of businesses. A van gives more comfort for passengers and depending on the number of passengers, is more economical than a bus. For businesses involving specialized equipment a van can give more interior space to protect sensitive and expensive equipment and supplies than pick-up trucks and some other types of vehicles. Some examples of types of businesses that use commercial vans are

  • Subcontracting services such as plumbing, and electrical subcontracting
  • Package delivery and courier services
  • Utility companies, internet providers, and cable TV companies
  • Shuttles nursing homes and assisted living developments, non-emergency medical transportation services
  • Schools and colleges
  • Catering businesses
  • Sports teams, youth organizations, churches, and community organizations

What Are Some of the Most Popular AWD Commercial Vans?

Relatively speaking, there are not a lot of commercial vans with the option of all-wheel-drive. Some of the more popular AWD models are the Chevrolet Express, the GMC Savana, and the Ford Transit.

Chevrolet Express

The design of the Chevy Express has stayed the same for more than three decades, with only one major redesign during this period of time. The reason for the same design year after year: it works. Only slight adjustments are needed to keep pace with the changing market. The Express offers a powerful engine, oodles of space, and plenty of seating. It also handles comfortably and easily when driving.

The Express is available in a

  • 1500 rear-wheel drive 310 horsepower 4-speed transmission version
  • 2500 rear-wheel drive 280 or 323 horsepower 6-speed transmission versions
  • 3500 260 horsepower 6-speed transmission version.

The 3500 version has an extended wheel-base option that allows seating for 15 passengers. The trim comes in either LS or LT levels. The LS is a basic trim model that is often chosen for fleets. The LT package includes amenities like rear air conditioning, more comfortable seats, and cruise control, and is better suited for passenger needs. For more detailed information about the Chevy Express, visit .

GMC Savanna

The GMC Savanna is another top selling all-wheel drive commercial van model. The Savanna offers 310 hp, an automatic 4-speed transmission with overdrive. With a wheel base just over 11 feet, (135 inches), it gives the driver 239 cubic feet of cargo space or seating for 8 passengers. The 2013 model offers optional CD and MP3 compatibility, AM/FM navigation radio, and rear vision camera. It is available in LS or LT trims and can be customized to fit the comfort or cargo needs of your business.

Ford Transit

The Ford Transit is a relatively new model on the market, but has gained a reasonable share of the market in a short time. The Transit’s AWD system automatically senses loss of traction and provides seamless power flow to the front wheels when necessary on low-traction surfaces without affecting road performance. Once traction is optimal again, the AWD disengages automatically. The Transit is available in short, medium, and long wheel-bases. It is also available with a high roof option.  It is suited to meet the needs of utility companies, forestry services, agriculture, search and rescue, law enforcement, and other situations where off-road or low traction situations are common.  For more information see

Why All-Wheel-Drive?

AWD commercial vans can give your employees added safety, and get them out of situations that may otherwise require expensive and time consuming towing services. This can give an employer greater peace of mind. A van with AWD is definitely worth acquiring for your company.