2019 Ram ProMaster City Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
December 11, 2018

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City is a useful tool for small businesses or contractors looking for a no-frills appliance.

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City doesn’t have time for our clever analysis—there’s work to do.

Normally, it’s a small cargo van (sometimes a small passenger van) destined for a rough-and-tumble life wherever it goes.

With seats up front and a box in back, it wasn’t built to shine on our scale that prefers passenger cars. Its 3.2 overall rating on our scale reflects that. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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This year, the Ram ProMaster City dresses up its front fascia with mixed results. It presents a more cohesive look on Ram lots, but it’s still plainly a slab-sided van.

Under the plain sheet metal, the Ram ProMaster City is powered by 178-horsepower inline-4 that carries up to 1,885 pounds payload and is rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds when equipped. A 9-speed automatic is the only transmission available, and it’s hesitant at low speeds around town.

The good news is that the Ram ProMaster City is easy to maneuver and steers well.

Two seats come in every van, although passenger versions can add a split-folding rear bench for shuttle detail. Without the rear row, cargo vans offer more than 130 cubic feet of space between the walls and relatively flat panels for interior fixtures. A wide span between the wheel wells means pallets can lay flat.

The small van has few features from the factory. Most versions will head straight for an upfitter’s garage for basics like a new recruit.

A rearview camera, 5.0-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth connectivity, power windows, and air conditioning are standard on all vans.

Fully loaded passenger versions feature upgraded cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and six-speaker audio.

The EPA rates the ProMaster City at 24 mpg combined but no official crash data exists.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Styling

Who buys a commercial van like the 2019 Ram ProMaster City for how it looks?

The Ram ProMaster City is an American name on an Italian van and we’ll duck the Ferragamos flying at our faces now.

Italy has penned better shapes, but even with a new face the 2019 ProMaster City isn’t pretty. It gets a 2 on our style scale for a lackluster interior and a worse exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, like the bigger ProMaster, the smaller ProMaster City gets a grille more in line with the rest of the Ram brand. A “RAM” badge is emblazoned across the small van’s face instead of the Dodge-esque crosshair grille.

The swept back headlights aren’t helping much, although they do perch better atop the new grille. From the side, the ProMaster’s window line sweeps up for no good reason—unnecessary complexity in a commercial van.

Inside, it’s a little more tempered and calm. The Ram ProMaster City’s interior is forgettable, too, which is probably the point for a commercial van.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Performance

With one engine and transmission package available on the 2019 Ram ProMaster City, you can spend more time thinking about what goes inside.

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City commercial van may be infinitely customizable inside and out, but its powertrain isn’t.

That’s fine. Available with just an inline-4, front-wheel drive, and a 9-speed automatic, the 2019 ProMaster City does some of the thinking for you on that.

We have good things to say about its ride and its steering, but not its transmission and its noise. It earns a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ProMaster City uses a 2.4-liter inline-4 that’s rated at 178 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. When properly equipped, it’s rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds or carry up to 1,885 pounds of payload.

That engine is teamed with an indecisive 9-speed automatic that dribbles out clumsy shifts at the worst time: low speed, around town. We’ve had issues with the same engine-transmission combo in other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products before, so no surprise there. The engine has reasonable pep around town and on the highway, but it hesitates to downshift and seems even more confused at highway speeds.

The good news is that the van is easy to maneuver and place. The independent front and rear suspension soak up bumps and road imperfections well, although quite a bit of noise filters through the floor into the thinly insulated cargo and passenger compartments. Passenger models add more sound deadening, but no ProMaster City vans are quiet to drive.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Comfort & Quality

Cargo, not comfort, is the 2019 Ram ProMaster City’s first priority.

Comfort takes a back seat in the 2019 Ram ProMaster City—even if there isn’t one.

That’s not a dig, it’s the reality for commercial vans: they’re built to work hard, every day, without fuss. Most vans will leave the factory as cargo haulers with two perches ahead of the box of stuff that’s more important. The seats are comfortable, but not palatial—the cargo capacity is more remarkable. Adding one for its capacious rear and taking two back for being a bare-metal box without much convenience, we land at a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ProMaster City comes in one wheelbase configuration, with or without rear windows and seats. Most vans will leave the factory ready for upfitters or ready for shuttle duty. Without rear seats, the back holds up to 132 cubic feet of cargo.

Passenger models have good room for three across with enough room behind the second row for luggage and other cargo. The second row folds in a 60/40 split for additional utility.

The front seats have a good view out front and are clad with cloth or vinyl upholstery.

Inside, there are plenty of storage bins and cubbies, useful for paperwork, tools, beverages, and other accumulated items, but the low-buck plastic isn’t confidence inspiring.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Safety

Official crash data for the Ram ProMaster City doesn’t exist.

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City van hasn’t been crashed by federal or independent testers, which means we don’t rate it here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The small commercial van is equipped with seven airbags, traction and stability control systems, and a rearview camera.

Outward forward vision from the driver’s seat is very good, typical of tall-riding vans. Rearward vision depends entirely on the van’s configuration and cargo.

Fleet telematics are new for 2019 and can give large-scale operations confidence to know that the vans are being driven safely.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Features

Good news: The 2019 Ram ProMaster City is a blank canvas. Bad news: The 2019 Ram ProMaster City is a blank canvas.

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City commercial van is a blank slate for useful features, but not many of them come from the factory. That’s just fine for many van buyers—DIY is A-OK.

Ram equips the base ProMaster City Tradesman cargo van with a 5.0-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, power windows, front seats, and air conditioning. A few options from the factory can transform the cargo van to a family taxi or an actual taxi, but not much else. It earns a 2 out of 10 on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Passenger vans add some conveniences such as rear windows and rear seats. A full-tilt SLT version of the passenger van adds front heated seats, upgraded cloth upholstery, power rear windows, and six-speaker audio (four speakers are standard on the other versions).

Although it’s spartan, the Ram ProMaster City is designed for fleet use, where conveniences are heavily weighed against the cost to maintain them.

Ram says the ProMaster City can travel up to 10,000 miles before an oil change, and fleet telematics can be added to every van.

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2019 Ram ProMaster City

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Ram ProMaster City keeps pace with commercial van competitors.

With just a single, small powertrain on offer, the 2019 Ram ProMaster City is relatively fuel efficient among commercial vehicles.

The EPA rates the ProMaster City at 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined. That nets a 4 on our scoreboard. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Among small commercial vans, the ProMaster City is competitive. The Nissan NV200 and Ford Transit Connect are both rated around 25 mpg combined. A diesel-powered Transit Connect is coming, although EPA estimates haven’t yet been released.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$24,195
MSRP based on Tradesman Van
 
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3.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 2
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 2
Fuel Economy 4
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