2015 Ram ProMaster City Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
May 16, 2015

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City takes cost of ownership seriously, offering cargo space and versatility that rivals some full-size vans of the past, paired with small-car handling, maneuverability, and running costs.

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City gears up in all the right ways—not for families, but for urban fleets and small business owners. Painters, florists, or plumbers, for instance, might need a delivery or cargo van but not sheer size and heft.

Like the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200, and Chevrolet City Express, the ProMaster City offers a smarter, more dollar-stingy alternative to full-size vans—with far better fuel efficiency, and far lower total operating costs.

Appearing as a boxy smaller van, mated with the front end of a small crossover—or simply a minivan with a larger snout—the ProMaster City is all business, but finished with some nice details. At the front, the ProMaster City's bulbous front end, with a crosshair grille and big headlamp units, while inside it gets a nicer interior and instrument panel—one that was completely redesigned, to provide a smooth match with other vehicles in the Ram (and Dodge) lineups.

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The ProMaster City is essentially a reworked, redesigned version of the Fiat Doblo, a model that sells in Europe and in other world markets (then it’s ‘upfitted’ in Baltimore, Maryland). And it packs some familiar U.S.-market motivation under the hood; power is provided by the familiar Chrysler 'Tigershark' 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, making 178 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It comes matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive. Ram says that these vans, unladen, can reach 60 mph in as little as 9.8 seconds, and tow ratings will range up to 2,000 pounds. Fuel economy ratings are an impressive 21 mpg city, 29 highway, and ride and handling are far better than that of traditional cargo vans, as it uses a rear independent bi-link suspension setup.

How does it drive? The ProMaster City can feel nearly as responsive as a small car, crossed with some of the confident handling and great seating-position and sightlines that minivans used to sport. And looking at it from another angle, the ProMaster City is far more nimble than the old full-size body-on-frame vans that it partly replaces.

In cargo models, there are six tie-down rings, with a combined 1,000-pound rating, to help hold goods in a stable position, while a 48.4-inch length between the wheel wells allows loading a full-size pallet. The cargo width is a best-in-class 60.4 inches, and total cargo volume is nearly 132 cubic feet. Wagon models offer seating for three across a 60/40-split bench in back, and each section can tumble forward. With the rear seats folded, there's almost six feet of length in the cargo floor.

The ProMaster City will be offered in Tradesman and SLT (cargo) and Wagon (passenger) body styles, with the cargo models essentially panel vans (with available windows) and the Wagon offering back seats and rear side windows. In both versions, the rearmost 'window' area remains covered by metal, so we're curious to see how this works out for visibility in passenger duty. Although the Ford Transit Connect offers a choice between side-opening doors and a more conventional hatchback, the ProMaster City's setup brings 60/40-split rear doors; the doors can open to 180 degrees, and the smaller one opens to the curb side.

With electronic stability control, front-seat side and side-curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, as well as an available ParkView backup camera system and ParkSense parking aid, there's no shortage of safety items here, and shoppers should likely expect around the same amount of security and occupant protection as with a smaller crossover model.

All models offer a five-inch Uconnect infotainment touch-screen system, as well as available satellite radio and on-board navigation. Mopar options allow special roof-rack systems, graphics packages, and towing accessories.

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