2015 Ram ProMaster CityPosted on April 8th, 2015
Pint-sized cargo van for urbanites on the go
By Nina Russin
Today I’m a Sherpa. The test car this week is the Ram ProMaster City: the North American version of the popular Fiat Doblo cargo van. I intend to keep the ProMaster busy doing what it was designed for: hauling soup-to-nuts.
The ProMaster City is a downsized version of the ProMaster , based on the Fiat Ducato and introduced to North America for the 2014 model year. The wheelbase is 14-inches shorter than the standard ProMaster light-duty truck and the roof and ride height lower.
Power comes from a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. A diesel version with a manual gearbox is available in Europe, but Ram has no plans at this point to bring it stateside.
Base price for the two-seat window van is $23,130 excluding the destination charge. The test car comes with a rear backup camera, upgraded wheels, roof rack and Ram’s Uconnect infotainment system, bringing the final MSRP to $26,105.
Designed to move what moves you
The ProMaster City could be the ultimate active lifestyle vehicle, with the space to hold multiple bicycles, canoes, kayaks, skis, snowboards and camping equipment. There’s enough room behind the front seats to spread out a couple of sleeping bags for those who want to get to the trailhead the night before the race.
To experience the ProMaster’s load-in capability and see how the car’s ride and handling varies loaded and unloaded, I’ve engaged the help of Lance Muzslay and Karen Seymour: co-owners of Sole Sports: three specialty running shops in Tempe, Scottsdale and Glendale, Arizona. The Tempe store serves as the drop-off point for deliveries to all three stores and employees transfer merchandise between the stores from there.
On this day, Lance and Karen are distributing cartons of Hoka Ones: the gold standard for the new generation of super-cushioned running shoes. The soles on a pair of Hokas are about twice as thick as traditional running shoes, so the shoeboxes are big and the cartons, even bigger. All of this is a piece of cake for the ProMaster, which can hold enough Hokas for an army of sore feet. There’s room left over so we throw a couple of large display racks and a piece of furniture in the back as well.
My destination is the Glendale store: about 40 miles away. Since the route is almost all freeway, I can see if my fuel economy is as good as the EPA 29 mpg estimate.
Its low lift-over height and asymmetrical rear door design make the ProMaster a snap to load. One of the back doors is significantly wider than the other, making it easier to load from the back when the van is parked on the street. The side doors also open wide enough to put pallets inside.
Tie-down loops on the floor enable owners to use ropes and bungee cords to secure large items. Since the cargo floor is a slick surface, anything unsecured is going to crash into the front seats when the driver hits the brakes: something I discovered the hard way. Some rubber floor mats and interior racks would fix the problem.
The windows make a significant difference in visibility around the perimeter, as does the optional rearview camera. Side mirrors have convex inserts that make it easier for the driver to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is surprisingly peppy. I had no problems accelerating off the line or merging into high-speed traffic on highway entrance ramps. Engineers have tuned the engine to run super-lean, resulting in some vibration through the steering wheel. Occupants will also notice more engine, road and wind noise than is typical for a passenger car, since the ProMaster is a commercial vehicle.
The nine-speed automatic transmission has large overdrive gears to extend the van’s fuel economy. My test drive of approximately 150 miles used up about five gallons of gas: slightly better than the EPA highway estimate.
Response from the power rack-and-pinion steering system is quite good. I had no problems backing into a typical perpendicular parking spot, and was able to perform U-turns on wider surface roads. On-center response on the highway was more than acceptable for this type of vehicle.
A four-wheel independent suspension keeps the ride comfortable as well. While occupants will feel more of the road surface than they would in a passenger car or crossover, there is no reason the ProMaster couldn’t be used for the occasional road trip.
Brakes for the front-wheel drive van consist of front discs and rear drums. I didn’t get the chance to test the brakes in wet weather, but since most of the braking on a transaxle car takes place up front, the rear drums shouldn’t pose a problem.
Twenty-first century amenities
Features such as satellite radio, keyless entry and the optional TomTom navigation system make the ProMaster City a much more appealing vehicle. The screen for the optional Uconnect system and rearview camera is small but functional.
Designers equipped the interior with large bottle holders in the front doors, two 12-volt power points between the front seats and a USB port. I found the manual seat adjustments easy to use. I had plenty of lower lumbar support on the driver’s side for my test drive of about two hours.
The Ram ProMaster City comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, hill start assist, trailer sway control and tire pressure monitoring.
The all-new Ram ProMaster City is rolling into dealerships nationwide.
Like: An affordable cargo van with good fuel economy and a capacious cargo area.
Dislike: Engine vibration. The van has more engine, road and wind noise than sport-utility vehicles and crossovers designed specifically for the passenger car market.
Model: ProMaster City
Base price: $23,130
As tested: $26,105
Horsepower: 178 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 174 lbs.-ft. @ 3800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: A DOT highway emergency kit is available as an option.
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 21/29 mpg city/highway2015, Best Value 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, Ram, standard safety
26 responses to “2015 Ram ProMaster City”
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