Photo by Paul Clinton.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Ram ProMaster City compact cargo van drives like a mini-truck, considering the Ram Truck DNA. It's a forceful small van with a rugged platform and the capability you'd expect from this nameplate.
Ram achieved this in in part by raising the ride height by 0.4 inches from the Fiat Doblo that serves as the vehicle's Euro platform. Yet, the unibody ProMaster City — offered in Tradesman and SLT trim levels — also benefits from its car-like features. It's powered by Chrysler's 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder providing 178 hp and 174 lb.-ft. of torque that's mated to the same 9-speed transmission used in the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan.
Of course, when you're tuning the transmission for a commercial vehicle that can handle 1,883 pounds of payload, you set the shift points at a higher RPM range, especially in the lower gears, to deliver more torque for the job at hand.
The van also benefits from a car-like ride that's enabled by a bi-link coil suspension. Ram has moved away from the leaf springs usually used in pickup trucks to give the van greater agility and better handling. Steering is a bit stiffer than you'd expect, and that's a welcome feature.
We drove the van at a press event in Austin, Texas, in mid-December that provided a good opportunity for the van to show us its strengths. The event began with a city drive and ended with an obstacle course and trailering exercise. We drove loaded and unloaded versions of the cargo van on an obstacle course that involved hard braking, cornering, and a brief downpour to test the windshield wipers. The van met all these tests.
Photo by Paul Clinton.
Lastly, we pulled a trailer and zero turn mower that weighed more than 1,300 pounds over a 12-minute loop of mostly paved streets on the outskirts of town. I felt very little sway on this stable platform, and at times had to nudge myself to re-focus on the load in the rear.
Ram claims the ProMaster City's 131.7 cubic feet of cargo volume is unsurpassed, and we won't argue. The six D-rings to secure cargo should suffice.
The ProMaster City's black-themed interior with gray accents strikes a workmanlike impression for this mobile office, and this approach should help keep surfaces looking cleaner. The fabrics feel durable, yet not uncomfortable.
Our model was equipped with an optional 5-inch touchscreen with the Uconnect infotainment system. The hard buttons for HVAC control and safety features are easy to reach.
Fleets can order security panels, rear windows, or rear and side windows depending on their needs. The ProMaster City Tradesman cargo van retails for $24,125.