Vauxhall has just brought out Vivaro, effectively a rebadged Renault Trafic which it helped co-develop and which, incidentally, is also going to be sold as a Nissan. Citroën has recently introduced a new aftersales support package called Peace of Mind which is said to live up to its name. Picking the top models is harder than ever and potential van purchasers should pick up a copy of the only consumer magazine tailored for van buyers. What Van? lists and tests every van on sale in the UK and is essential reading for those in the market for a new vehicle. First let's look at car derived vans. While they are usually deemed too small for most delivery companies, the current crop of vans is starting to reverse the trend. Best buys in this sector are the Citroen Berlingo and its identical brother the Peugeot Partner. These vans feature some very large bodies for their size and their versatility is further enhanced by the option of side doors into the cargo areas. With prices starting from just over £8,000, they look good value for money, plus they drive extremely well too so long as power steering is fitted. However, Fiat's new Doblo Cargo is arguably an even better and cheaper bet. With a 3.2m3 cargo facility and twin sliding side doors, it's a very stylish yet practical van. If it has one weak area it concerns the rather meek 1.2 litre petrol engine, which will force many into the lustier but rougher and noisier 1.9 diesel option. Other vans worth looking at include the Renault Kangoo (which also features a side door facility and now a punchier 1.9-litre diesel power plant), the robust VW Caddy, its identical Spanish stablemate Seat Inca and the evergreen Ford Escort and Courier. They are Fords and that means easy servicing and repairs. When it comes to panel vans, this market has seen some significant changes over the past 12 months but none are more major than the new Ford Transit range. The UK's bestseller for over three decades, the latest version is the most thoughtful design yet and features an unusual choice of both front or rear-wheel drive formats. The Transit is now the best driver in its class and typically Ford ­ a doddle to drive and own. From a practicality standpoint, the most impressive feature of the Transit isn't just the cargo load areas quoted, but the squareness of it, meaning every millimetre can be exploited. Ownership worries are taken care of by a high level of security against theft, an excellent safety specification and 15,000 mile service intervals twinned with a three year warranty. The best of the rest includes the magnificent Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the near identical Volkswagen LT, the Iveco Daily and the Renault Master. This batch, along with the Vauxhall Movano (a rebadged Master) can offer lorry-like workloads with passenger car-type civility and are tailored for refrigeration conversions. Both the Master and the Movano now benefit from a new higher-powered 2.2-litre diesel option, incidentally. Too big? Then have a look at the VW Transporter. So good is the design that it is hard to credit that this van is now a decade old, and no rival in its class feels so well made. If you're after value for money, then the trio of Citroën's Relay, Fiat's Ducato and the Peugeot Boxer (the same van bar the badges and detail changes) are in a class of their own, while the latest diesel engines, including a new lusty 2.8-litre, all pull like a train, even when fully loaded. All are popular buys, but they are starting to feel old now and losing ground to their newer rivals, although good deals can always be found on them. A replacement is scheduled next year, which will mean even more attractive deals. A rival to the above for ability and price has just been completely transformed. The new Renault Trafic is also being sold as the Vauxhall Vivario and this joint venture brings style and value to a competitive market. A combination of two wheelbases and body styles, with up to a 1,200kg payload is offered, while engine choices span from a brace of diesels, depending upon the vehicle chosen. A more comprehensive model line up is promised for next year. Vauxhall has particularly priced its line-up keenly, starting from £12,925. This is just slightly above the arch rival Transit, but the Vauxhall does come with longer servicing intervals. For outfits after a 1,000kg van, the choice is rather limited, but one van stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that's the Mercedes Vito. Not cheap at prices starting from £12,450 ­ almost £2,000 above a rival Citroen, Peugeot or Fiat rivals ­ but it's on a far higher plane. Like the above rivals, Vito is actually a people carrier that's been stripped for commercial use, but this does ensure a refined, comfortable workhorse. Originally, the Vito suffered from underpowered engines, but the new CDi designs fitted (they are also found in many Mercedes passenger cars) more than rectify the problem. One firm old-time favourite just keeps on going, and that's the LDV range. Now called Pilot and Convoy, in truth the designs actually date back to the 1970s. Not that this matters for many of their owners, who simply want a well made, no nonsense worker. Continual improvements keep these vans competitive and it's rumoured that the ranges will receive the latest Ford Transit and Peugeot engines in the near future. LDV has also launched a new temperature-controlled Convoy van aimed at supermarket and home delivery operations and even runs on eco-friendly LPG fuel (gas). Using a Klege Europ body with a Carrier Transicold Xarios fridge, this complete package even comes with a rear camera to make reversing a simple job. Not cheap at around £26,000, but it will certainly do the job. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}