Review: Renault Trafic (2014)
Refined and comfortable, L1 capable of carrying three Euro pallets, new 2.0 dCi from 2019 is quiet and punchy, 2022 update improves safety.
Can't match its key rivals for outright payload, technically not an all-new van rather a thorough revamp of the previous model, base model has no air-con even in 2022.
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Renault Trafic (2014): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure
The latest generation Renault Trafic has been around since 2014, but rather than rest on its laurels Renault has given it a series of updates not once, but twice. It's not common for any vehicle to have two facelifts throughout its life, but as the Trafic is still a competitive model, why throw out the recipe?
In 2019, the Ford Transit Custom rival gained some new 2.0-litre dCi diesel engines replacing the old 1.6-litre units, plus an overhauled interior. In 2022 the engines were tweaked again, while the exterior look was sharpened up and the cabin further updated to keep it modern.
The most important revision from Renault's perspective is the availability of new active safety kit. This is is because, in 2021, Euro NCAP heavily criticised the Trafic and said it is not recommend for its "general lack of safety systems". In response, the 2022 Trafic can be specced with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition.
The Renault Trafic is still is offered in numerous configurations, which include panel van, platform cab and nine-seat minibus. Renault also offers a ‘Ready to Work’ range of optional racking systems which are fitted before delivery, meaning owners who need specific kit for work can pick up their new van from the dealer and get right to business.
The Trafic is available in two lengths and two heights and can carry items of up to 3.75 metres (L1 version) or 4.15 metres (L2) in length. Carrying capacity ranges from 5.2 to 8.6 cubic metres, while the load area has a simple-to use through-hatch that allows the loading of planks or pipes.
It can be ordered with an optional interior overhead rack that can carry pipes or a ladder. The van also has 20 anchor points and half sized panel protection as standard. Even the smallest L1 model is capable of carrying three Euro pallets, while the maximum permitted payload weight ranges from 1079kg to 1281kg, depending on size and engine choice.
Under the bonnet, the Trafic was launched with a range of 1.6 turbodiesels with 90PS or 115PS, while fuel economy for both peaked at an official 43mpg. The best engine, however, is the twin-turbo 1.6 with 120PS or 140PS and economy of up to 47mpg. For heavy work the twin-turbo engines are best, with most of their torque available from just 1250rpm.
The 1.6 dCi diesels were phased out in 2019 and replaced with 2.0 dCi engines as part of an extensive midlife update - these are more efficient and quieter, while the larger engine means even better low-down torque. These engines became 'Blue dCi' units in 2022, with four outputs options ranging from 110PS to 170PS.
The interior was extensively improved in 2019 with a new dashboard and much more supportive seats. That changed again in 2022 with Renault bringing in a new infotainment screen and rotary dials like you get in the latest Clio. These changes make the Trafic a much stronger rival to the likes of the Transit Custom.
The cabin is reminiscent of the current Renault car range, with decent quality materials and a comfortable, MPV-style driving position. Renault has also given significant emphasis to the ‘mobile office’ theme, with a dash mounted cradle for a mobile phone or tablet PC. The centre seat can also be transformed into a laptop holder and there is a built in, removable clip board that can be directed at the driver or passenger.
Driven: 2019 Renault Trafic dCi 145
Renault's medium size van gets an important midlife update, with new engines, improve refinement and better tech. Will the new and more comfortable Renault Trafic be good enough to rival the best in class, Ford Transit Custom?
What does a Renault Trafic (2014) cost?
Renault Trafic (2014): What's It Like Inside?
The load area in the Trafic is much the same as its predecessor, which is by no means a bad thing – it means racking systems and other accessories that were designed for the previous model will fit into the new one with no modification. There have been some important tweaks, though, including a slightly longer load area that can now accommodate three Euro pallets even in the shortest L1 version.
As before there are a number of configurations on offer, with the choice of the panel van in two lengths and two heights, all with a full metal bulkhead.
There’s also a nine-seat minibus, should you want it. Admittedly, it isn’t particularly plush or luxurious compared to something like a Mercedes-Benz Vito, but it offers plenty of space in both passenger rows along with a sizeable load area. We think it would make an ideal airport taxi.
For the vans, load volumes vary between 5.2 - 8.6 cubic metres. L1 and L2 crew cab versions are offered too, with respective load volumes of 3.2 and 4.0 cubic metres. The Trafic lacks the heavy duty payload capacity of its rivals, like the Transit Custom and Vivaro, however, with weight peaking at 1240kg, depending on size and engine choice. In comparison the Ford and Vauxhall will carry up to 1400kg.
In the load area there’s a simple-to use through-hatch that lets you load longer items either under the passenger seat or right to the very front of the cab. It allows the loading of planks or pipes up to 3.75m in the shorter L1 variant, with 40cm of extra load length in the longer L2. The hatch is very easy to operate intuitively, although it's heavily sprung and might trap fingers for the first few weeks.
Another clever touch is a system that allows you drive with one of the rear doors partially open. The system ensures you stay legal, with visible tail lights and a number plate, but improves the van’s flexibility to carry oversized items from time to time. There’s also an internal roof mounted rack system on offer that allows you to carry a ladder or piping away from the van floor, freeing up space.
Renault has made the cabin very work-friendly. On versions with three front seats there is a laptop storage area in the middle seat back, along with a built-in removable clip board, plus mounting points for smartphones or iPads. There are two different touchscreen infotainment systems on offer, both of which are easy to use. Renault is also offering an optional app for mobile phones and tablets, which links to the van's computer and lets the driver analyse fuel consumption and trip data.
There are numerous cubby holes for odds and ends including a pair of covered glove boxes, several drinks holders, plus hangers for coats or work clothes. The cabin itself is very comfortable and car-like, with excellent levels of refinement and adjustment for the seats. Indeed it’s so quiet and comfortable it’s easy to forget that you’re even driving a van a lot of the time.
There are problems, though. The pleasant dash covering feels solid except for in the area where the passenger airbag is mounted. Here the plastic covering is alarmingly thin - putting feet up or messing around with a heavy item would likely damage it. Furthermore, passenger seating is tight in variants with three front seats, while the phone bracket provided is a tight fit for larger smartphones. The door pockets are also narrow.
In 2019, Renault launched the revised Trafic which addresses many of these issues. The quality of the interior is much improved and there are details like chrome inserts on the air vents, to give it a more upmarket feel and a nicer to use gear lever.
Although that doesn't apply to the base Business edition, with its dull black plastics and lack of standard air-con. The latter is still commonplace on entry-level trim levels, but it feels a bit mean in 2022. You want at least Business+ spec unless you're really on a budget.
Sadly we've not yet tried the updated 2022 infotainment, but a similar system is available on entry level versions of Renault's Clio and Captur family car and it's a much more responsive unit than the old system. Renault sent us a base model Trafic with a simple DAB radio setup and a monochrome screen, although it's easy to use and comes with Bluetooth connectivity.
The 2019-on Trafic is far quieter on the move thanks in part to the new engines plus a new windscreen designed to minimise wind noise and vibrations. The biggest change is one you won't immediately spot - the seats. They've been redesigned and are now firmer with more support, which driver's who spend all day behind the wheel will certainly appreciate. We spent a good few hours at the wheel and there were no comfort issues.
What's the Renault Trafic (2014) like to drive?
The Renault Trafic is offered with a comprehensive range of engines. Initially, from launch, the Trafic was offered with a 1.6-litre diesel, with outputs ranging from 90PS to 140PS. However, Renault expanded the line-up with Euro 6 diesels in 2016. These then morphed into the 2.0-litre dCi and Blue dCi units in 2019 and 2022 respectively.
For older vans, the twin-turbo versions of the 1.6 dCi are by far the best. Not only do they pull strongly from low revs, but they make driving easier thanks to their broad torque output. Less impressive, however, are the sluggish 1.6 dCi engine that uses a single turbocharger and produces 90PS/95PS and 260Nm of torque.
The torque delivery makes the twin-turbo engines very tractable and easy to drive. Unlike other engines, you do not have to change down through the gears as often, which makes it a lot easier to haul heavy loads. The twin-turbo engines are also ideal for motorway work and long distance, not only because of the power delivery but because of the refinement levels, which are quiet and on par with a passenger car.
The 2016 updates also saw Renault introduce the Energy dCi 95PS engine for the first time. Depending on bodystyle, the four-cylinder powertrain will return up to an official 46mpg and 260Nm of torque from 1500rpm. However, truth be told, the 95PS version seldom feels up to the task of heavy duty load moving or towing, struggling to get up to speed.
The Trafic van was comprehensively updated in 2019, with the 1.6 dCi being phased out in favour of Renault's 2.0 dCi. The 2.0-litre diesel uses a variable geometry turbocharging to develop more power and (more significantly) better low-gear pull under heavy loads. There was a choice of 120PS, 145PS or 170PS, with the entry-level 95PS Trafic being axed from the line-up.
The Blue dCi units of 2022 are largely the same mechanically, with AdBlue injection to reduce emissions. The power outputs were changed giving four options: 110PS, 130PS, 150PS or 170PS.
The benefits of the 2.0-litre engine are immediately obviously from behind the wheel, with smoother power delivery at urban speeds and lower levels of engine noise on the motorway. Buyers also get the choice of a six-speed manual or dual-clutch six-speed auto.
For the 2022 model we drove the entry-level 110PS unit mated to the six-speed manual. We reckon it'll just about suffice most people's needs, with acceptable pulling power, refined cruising and a nice spread of torque. Those regularly carrying heavy loads will want to upgrade to the higher-powered units such as the 130PS engine, however, particularly as it has the same quoted economy figure. The manual shift is decent enough, but not outstanding.
Regardless of which engine you choose, the Trafic is always easy to drive. The driving position is much like that of a family MPV, with good forward visibility and plenty of adjustment. The mirrors are large and offer a clear view back, plus there is a wide-angle mirror built in the passenger sun visor to help with visibility at oblique junctions. It’s a clever, simple solution to a problem many van drivers face regularly.
The steering is nicely weighted, too, meaning you have confidence that it'll go where you point it. Ride quality is good, regardless of the amount of weight being carried, although the wheels do thud over larger road imperfections. Like many bigger vans you'll find some steering correction needed at motorway speeds as the van is attacked by crosswinds, but it's not too bad.
There’s a good amount of technology to assist the driver, including an electronic differential to improve traction on loose surfaces like you might find on a muddy building site. There’s also a hill start assistance system that saves using the hand brake, plus a trailer stability control programme to reduce trailer sway.
In 2022, Renault finally embraced active safety kit with a suite of systems available. Sadly all of these, even including automatic emergency braking, are optional equipment. But at least you now have the choice, and none of the systems are particularly intrusive from our experience.
Real MPG average for a Renault Trafic (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 17%
- 1 star 50%