Review: Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014)
Good quality and comfortable medium sized van, makes a very useful nine seater minibus, now has Renault 2.0 chain cam diesel, robotised manual option.
Only two stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, fuel injectors can fail due to water ingress, common gear linkage problems.
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Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 88% of the official MPG figure
The Trafic is the sister van to the Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan Primastar but it's the Renault version which has proved the most popular. Despite being on sale since 2001 it still sells well and there have been various improvements and facelifts in its lifetime so that now there are more than 100 versions.
In 2010 the third version of this Trafic went on sale with three basic bodystyles - panel can, crew van and a minibus variant. There is also a long wheelbase platform cab for customised coachbuilding, together with a specialist refrigerated van and an off-the-shelf ‘double deck’ dropside model.
The popular panel van is available with short or long wheelbase and low or high roof heights, giving load volumes up to 8m3. The double Cab Crew Vans seat up to six, while retaining a generous cargo space in both short and long wheelbase forms. A folding rear bench seat allows longer loads to be carried when fewer passengers are on board.
The engine range includes the strong 2.0-litre dCi unit with either 90PS or 115PS, which were revised for 2010 to deliver improved fuel economy. Also available is a development of the 2.5-litre dCi engine with 150PS. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all engines, with the option of Renault’s robotised Quickshift6 semi-automatic transmission.
While it may be a classic of our times, Renault has not stood still with the Trafic and the cab has been developed to make it ever more comfortable and practical. There are also plenty of body configurations with the Trafic, so it keeps itself bang up to date.
Used Buying Guide - Renault Trafic 2001-2014
The Trafic still has plenty of life left in it as a used purchase. Seek out a well-looked after example and keep on top of the servicing and it should be relatively hassle-free as an ownership proposition.
What does a Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014) cost?
Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
If there is one area where the Renault Trafic is beginning to feel a little old next to its younger rivals is in the cabin. There is just a little too much grey plastic covering every surface for it to look and feel thoroughly modern, though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ergonomics of the Trafic’s dash and driving position. Far from it.
The Trafic remains a very comfortable van to sit in for the driver, with a height adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel that moves for both reach and angle. This lets the driver tailor the driving position to perfection and shows many more modern vans a thing or two about getting it right and looking after the driver.
A revision to the Trafic in 2006 introduced a foot plate to help the driver enter and exit the cabin with less effort and is typical of the way the Trafic has been developed over its lifetime to remain one of the key players in the market. While the dash may not look the most modern, it still places all of the instruments and controls where they need to be for ease of use.
The plastics, while drab, are tough and more than a decade of experience of the Trafic tells us it will last well when subjected to the sort of treatment the average van experiences in its lifetime. A dash-mounted gear lever frees up space for the passenger’s feet and the two-seat bench offers decent comfort and space.
There is also a whole load of storage inside the Trafic’s cabin that means you are never short of somewhere to keep paperwork, water bottles and phone chargers while large door bins also offer excellent storage. The view out from the Trafic’s cabin is good in all directions thanks to the large door glass and a short overhang at the front that lets the driver easily judge where the bumper is when parking. Rear parking sensors are an option on most Trafic models to help in those tighter spaces.
There are three trim levels to choose from with the Trafic, starting with the Debut that comes with a CD stereo, Bluetooth connection and driver’s airbag. Passenger and curtain airbags are available as an option across the Trafic range. The Core Edition then adds to the spec of the Debut with deadlocks for added security, electric front windows, Renault Anti Intruder Device, remote central locking and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors.
The top spec Sport model has 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with TomTom satellite navigation, cruise control, electric windows, air conditioning, trip computer, front fog lights and metallic paint.
All Renault Trafic panel van models come with twin side hinged rear doors that open to 180-degrees. These doors can be glazed at additional cost, as can the sliding side doors. Floor-mounted lashing hooks are included and you can specify side anchorage points as an option. With a choice of two body lengths, two roof heights and two gross vehicle weights, the Renault Trafic remains one of the most versatile and practical vans on the market.
What's the Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014) like to drive?
Renault has revised the Trafic engine range down to a choice of two versions of the same 2.0-litre dCi turbodiesel engine. You can pick between 90PS and 115PS versions of the engine and both are very refined in everyday use with little noise or rowdiness, even when worked hard.
However, the 90PS unit is better suited to town driving and delivering to suburban areas as motorways can find it wanting in the performance stakes. This is amplified when the Trafic is fully loaded with kit and will have you wishing for the added oomph of the 115PS motor.
As an all-round choice, the 115PS turbodiesel is very good and it pulls strongly on the motorway and for overtaking slower vehicles. It’s a smooth performer in every respect and, like the 90PS unit, it has light controls so you won’t find your leg muscles take a pounding in stop-start jams.
Both versions of the engine are offered with six-speed manual gearboxes as standard or you can opt for the Quickshift six-speed semi-automatic gearbox. The Quickshift transmission makes a lot of sense if you spend your time in the city, but it does add to the cost of buying the Trafic.
In town or out on the open road, we have no complaints about the way the Renault Trafic deals with lumps, bumps and every other sort of interruption the UK’s poorly maintained roads can throw at it. The suspension strikes just the right balance between control, comfort and capability whether you’re driving solo with nothing in the load bay or with two passengers and a cargo area packed with equipment.
Steering with decent feel, even when compared to the latest offerings such as the new Ford Transit Custom and the Mercedes Sprinter, means the Trafic is good to drive. It also makes light work of those awkward parking spaces that always seem to be the one required for that essential delivery. Couple this to responsive brakes that pull the Trafic up good and sharp as and when required and it’s a very good van to drive.
There’s only one ‘but’ in this otherwise fulsome praise of the Trafic and that is wind noise at anything above urban speeds. It is generated from around the windscreen and is the only real clue to the Trafic’s ageing design as it whistles and screeches. More than the irritation of this noise, it’s the fatigue it can bring on over a longer journey that irks us about this wind chatter. It’s also disappointing Renault has not got to grips with this problem when it seems to have kept the Trafic up to date in every other respect.
Real MPG average for a Renault Trafic (2001 – 2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
- 5 star 33%
- 4 star
- 3 star
- 2 star 67%
- 1 star