The 2018 model year for the VW Caddy sees equipment levels boosted across every trim and the van is also the safest in its class. In a bid to boost sales, the petrol engine Caddys have had their prices reduced but overall Volkswagen has played it safe with its small van offering. However, for those potential van owners who are attracted by its safety features, the new caddy has autonomous emergency braking now fitted as standard and there’s also driver alert across the range as well.

As a way to transport people in comfortable surroundings, the nine seat Renault Trafic SpaceClass offers a high end shuttle vehicle to impress. While it’s based on the Trafic, the SpaceClass is an all-new creation aimed at those customers wanting a best in class driving experience. The vehicle definitely offers a limo like experience for passengers and it shares its underpinnings with the Vauxhall Vivaro Combi so that’s worth considering too. For businesses that need a nine seat people mover, there’s a lot to recommend this vehicle.

The new Renault Kangoo Z.E. is a decent offering for those who are looking for an all-electric van with the latest model having its range boosted by 50%; it should, according to Renault, provide 170 miles on a single charge. There’s also a good range of body styles to help maintain the van’s popularity which is the bestselling electric van in Europe.

It’s something of a late entrant into the pickup market, but the Renault Alaskan offers an all-round and impressive offering. Mind you, it is based on the excellent Nissan Navara and this is the first 1 tonne pickup made by the French firm. It’s on sale from 2018 and the Alaskan has lots of equipment and offers a sound alternative for those wanting comfort and off-road abilities. Renault also says this is a ‘completely fresh approach’ to the pickup segment but that’s stretching things somewhat since it’s near identical to the Navarra’s cabin. It is however a good-looking vehicle and comfortable to drive.

There’s a lot to like about the Peugeot Partner Electric which is the plug-in battery version of the firm’s popular van. While potential owners may be looking forward to zero tailpipe emissions, there are some caveats to owning what should be a great van. The first issue is that the weight capacity has been reduced to cater for the heavy batteries, which are hidden under the load bed. It’s also lacking in equipment and the Partner Electric is essentially based on a van that was launched in 2008 which means having a dated interior and the sometimes sluggish handling reflect this.

It could be said that Mercedes is another carmaker late to the pickup party and with sales rocketing around the world, now is as good a time as any to create an impressive offering. The Mercedes X Class is that vehicle and the carmaker has created an interior to match their premium offering. There’s also a long list of options to help tailor the pickup to the buyer’s needs. However, it’s not really a pickup made by Mercedes – scratch the surface and this is the impressive Nissan Navara though Mercedes has made many changes to the exterior styling and obviously in the cabin. So, while the market for lifestyle pickups is growing and buyers opt for these rather than an SUV (mainly down to the tax advantages) there is no doubt that lots of businesses will go down this particular route just to have the Mercedes three pointed star on the front of their vehicle.

The new generation of the Isuzu D-Max offers an update on a popular vehicle; everything that’s great about the pickup it replaces, gets a polish here. There’s also a new 1.9 litre turbocharged diesel engine and a choice of automatic or manual gearboxes, both six speed. It helps that the starting price of £15,749 for the utility single cab will attract attention – but not every buyer in this segment is swayed by a low price tag. The D-Max comes with a choice of single, extended and double cab variants. Essentially, the 2017 model of the Isuzu D-Max delivers a more rounded vehicle than the pickup it replaces and while the list of standard equipment has been improved and the refinement levels have risen, there’s a lot to like about this vehicle but it’s fighting in a competitive segment with pickups offering plusher cabins, more equipment and better handling. Perhaps it’s for this reason that the Isuzu D-Max is aimed squarely at utilitarian users such as farmers rather than those ‘lifestyle’ buyers who like the chunky good looks.

The popular Ford Transit Custom is being revamped for 2018 with a range of impressive improvements and news that a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) will be introduced in 2019. There are some styling tweaks and an improved cabin, particularly for connectivity. There’s also a new engine, it’s a version of the British-built EcoBlue 2.0 litre diesel unit developing 105 HP and returning fuel economy of around 50 mpg. It’s also going to be a sound choice for those owners who want car-like handling, a comfortable cabin with lots of stowage and a stylish exterior design – fleet operators will love the intelligent speed limiter to ensure their drivers stay within the law. In a competitive segment the new Ford Transit Custom is going to be heard to beat.

In an increasingly competitive segment, the new Ford Tourneo Custom offers those wanting nine seats and a premium interior a sound business proposition. The Tourneo Custom delivers a spacious cabin with rear seating consisting of six individual seats that can be rearranged into a conference format. Ford says this is a unique feature for the segment. There’s also an impressive 10 speaker audio system and six USB ports for those sat in the rear. The people mover was revamped for the 2018 model year with new technology and improved handling with self-levelling rear air suspension being introduced. For the money, the Tourneo Custom is a great offering and certainly takes the upmarket people carrier game to the premium offerings from Mercedes and VW.

Slowly but surely all-electric vans are taking off in the UK and while the Citroen Berlingo Electric is a great example – it’s not quite good enough. Most of the issue is down to its claimed range of 106 miles which is probably much less in real world circumstances. However, there’s no doubting that the running costs of less than £2 per 40 miles will be hugely attractive to some firms. That’s the average van’s running costs DIVIDED BY FIVE! The Berlingo Electric also has low maintenance costs so there’s a lot to recommend it – and it’s a great van to drive around town – but only those who can live with a vehicle with a short range will get to enjoy the benefits.

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