Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A popular 2021 commercial vehicle, a white Silverado Chassis Cab, is parked in front of a concrete building at a jobsite.

What to Look for in a Commercial Vehicle

First things first: I can’t tell you exactly which commercial truck or van is right for your business. Similarly, I can’t tell you what you need in a commercial vehicle since that’s going to depend on many different factors all specific to your particular business. Now that we’ve established that, let me say what I can tell you: I can tell you what to look for when considering your different options regarding 2021 commercial vehicles. I wouldn’t call this a “buyer’s guide,” necessarily, but I’m going to do my best to point you in the right direction.

To be honest, you’ll need to do some homework of your own to figure out which commercial vehicle is right for you. That means figuring out your business’s specific needs, some of that I’ll help you with today, but some of it you’ll need to do on your own. But, all of this work will pay off when you get just the right truck or van to take your business to the next level and really help you succeed. So let’s get to it.

Design That Makes Your Job Easier

You have a lot of options available to you when looking at 2021 commercial vehicles: a wide range of vans and trucks from just about every major manufacturer, with all sorts of different designs to them. Cutting through all of these options to find just the right one can be made easier if you look for a model that has a design that will make your job easier. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what a commercial vehicle should really do.

Now, as I said, I can’t tell you which model will do that, it really depends on your business and your needs. If you’re in a trade like a carpenter or an electrician, then a truck is probably the first thing you’ll look at. Trucks are typically the go-to option for people in trades but don’t ignore the possibilities that a good panel van can provide for storage and organizing your tools and supplies. Similarly, if you’re looking for a delivery vehicle, consider what will be easiest to load and unload, keep your cargo secure, and offer any additional features you need.

A white 2021 Chevy Express Cutaway is parked at a jobsite in front a concrete building.

The Right Amount of Power

The right commercial vehicle for you won’t only make your job easier; it will actually help you get your job done in the first place. That often means having a vehicle with enough power that it can get you to a job site or haul whatever cargo you need across town. Once again, this will really depend on what your business needs, so you’ll have to figure out the numbers yourself.

Consider both cargo and towing – if there’s any chance you might need to pull a trailer, camper, or another vehicle behind your commercial truck or van, then you should factor that into the amount of power you need. Just as not all consumer vehicles are equal in terms of power, so too are commercial vehicles very different. So take the time to figure out what you really need and make sure the truck or van you choose can get the job done.

Ease of Upgrading or Customizing

This is something that’s easy to overlook right now, but then you find yourself six months or a couple years later realizing a different commercial vehicle would’ve been a better choice. Think long-term when looking at your options and look for a model that you can easily upgrade or customize for your future needs. This can be as simple as picking a van with enough interior space that you can install shelves and compartments that you need.

It can also be much more complicated and involve looking at different chassis cab trucks to see which platform will make upfitting as simple and straightforward as possible. This can really take some planning and thinking ahead, but all of that work is absolutely worth it. If your commercial vehicle is going to help your business grow, then it should be able to grow right alongside your company.

Long-Term Support From Manufacturer/Dealer

It would be nice if you could buy a commercial vehicle today and have it run perfectly for the next decade without a care in the world. We both know that’s not realistic, however, and your vehicle is going to need, at minimum, service, and maintenance on a routine basis to keep it in great shape. So look for a manufacturer that makes that kind of maintenance easy and as affordable for you as possible.

That means looking at warranty information for the vehicle. It will probably have a comprehensive limited warranty that covers the whole thing and a separate powertrain warranty that’s specifically for the engine and drivetrain. Make sure you get the best warranty protection possible and pay attention to what’s covered and what’s not. You might also consider the offers from different dealerships: some will add more warranty coverage or offer discounted scheduled maintenance if you come back to them.

Anything that makes your life easier in the future is a plus.

A white Chevy Low Cab Forward flatbed is filled with trees at a garden center.

Technology that Helps You Get Your Job Done

It’s easy to think of tech features as just something flashy for consumer cars and SUVs, but in reality, there are a lot of pieces of technology that will help you and your business. For example, that infotainment display in the center console might seem like it’s just for playing music, but a good system will provide information about navigation, your vehicle’s condition, and can incorporate tools that make it easier to attach and tow a trailer behind you. All of these things can help your business succeed.

Look for technology that you can incorporate into what you already use for your business. Some commercial vehicles might be able to interface with other equipment you use or have Bluetooth support that makes it easier to safely stay in contact with your drivers on the road. Similarly, some technology can make a huge difference and really be vital for your business. If you need a van for delivering flowers, cakes, or other items that need to remain cold, then a refrigerated model is really essential.

Great Safety Features

Again, safety features might seem like something that only consumers are interested in, but they can really make a huge difference for your business. Systems like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, and lane-keep assist can all make it easier for your driver to stay safe on the road. This means they might avoid a collision that would otherwise occur, helping you avoid insurance claims, expensive repairs, or full replacements for the vehicle.

Avoiding collisions or minimizing damage is also great for your employees, as it keeps them healthy and safe. Purely from a pragmatic view, this is a good thing as it helps you avoid workers’ compensation claims, loss of an employee due to injury, and can improve morale when your employees see you care about their wellbeing. These kinds of things don’t necessarily show up on a bottom line––you can’t exactly account for expenses that didn’t happen––but when you think about them, you can see the value they offer.

This should give you a good sense of what to look for in a 2021 commercial vehicle. Now figure out the specific needs of your business and find the perfect model to help you succeed.