A step van is a commercial truck designed primarily for deliveries of packages or other light cargo. In addition to being widely used by companies like FedEx and UPS, they are also common for mobile businesses like food trucks and mobile mechanics.
The term “step van” comes from the bus-like steps used for entrance, making them easy to enter and exit numerous times per day on a delivery route, and the bed of the truck is generally lower to the ground than a box truck.
Unlike most other vehicles, human comfort and highway performance are not prioritized in step van design due to their primary purpose as a delivery vehicle. Step vans do not significantly muffle road noise and door rattling inside, may have uncomfortable seating (and often no passenger seat), and are typically geared for street speeds rather than highway speeds. Many have manual transmissions. Mechanically speaking, step vans are usually relatively simple and low tech, with easy access to the engine from the front and inside the cab.
The cab of the truck may be separated from the cargo area by a “bulkhead” (wall) with a door, or it may be completely open. If there is a bulkhead, a folding passenger jump seat is often attached to it for seating over the entrance steps. All step vans have access between the cab and cargo area.
The cargo box is often fully aluminum, which reduces weight and eliminates rust concerns. Most used step vans will come with some sort of installed shelving.
The rear door is most commonly roll-up, but may be conventional double doors. Some trucks have lift gates installed.
Cargo area sizes vary significantly, with box lengths ranging from 10 to 22 feet (overall vehicle length: 20 to 32 feet), and typically just under 8 feet wide, for a 90 to 170 square foot total area1) with ceiling heights around 7 feet. All step vans have wheel wells inside which must be built around.