The new Ram ProMaster City is not Chrysler’s first rodeo. In 1918, Chrysler introduced a series of panel delivery trucks. These panel trucks were forbearers to the modern van.
Chrysler believes the van market is going to expand rapidly in the next five years. Today there are about 175,000 Class 1 cargo vans in the U.S. (mostly in fleets). Chrysler feels that overall Class 1-4 van volume will increase to nearly 400,000 a year in just a few years. Small vans will amount to about 25 percent of the segment.
Pent-up demand to replace aging commercial vans, plus efficiency and variety of capability would position the ProMaster City for a major share.
What makes this van so special? Let me mention just six best-in-class features:
- 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque
- Payload of 1,883 pounds
- Cargo volume of 131.7 cu. ft.
- Cargo width and length of 60.4 inches and 87.2 inches
- Distance between wheel wells is 48.4 inches
- Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 5,385 lbs.
The steel unibody design is the foundation for the van. This helps minimize curb weight, which helps with the impressive payload.
The wheelbase of 122.4 inches also helps guarantee an impressive ride and handling. Plus it creates space needed for a large cargo area.
The ProMaster uses a proven durable yet compact MacPherson strut for the front suspension that easily accommodates urban and rural rough roads. The independent coil-sprung bi-link configuration for the rear suspension increases driving comfort, enhances stability, and ensures vehicle safety regardless of load situation.
Unlike other vans, each side of the ProMaster City is fitted with a sliding door with a 26-inch opening to access the cargo compartment. Load rails or roof racks are available through Mopar and they are easy to mount on the prepped roof, providing a weight capacity of 154 pounds.
In the rear, the ProMaster City is fitted with 60/40 split doors. The large door swings outward toward the driver (traffic) side of the van. This makes it easy to load cargo items and not block the path the curbside of the van.
The rear doors swing open 90 degrees for display, but can swing 180 degrees by simply pressing a button on the door latch. It reengages when the door closes.
The passenger version of the ProMaster City allows for a three-passenger second-row seating. That second row is split 60/40 but still offers nearly 4 feet of cargo length with the seats in place and nearly 6 feet when folded.
The ProMaster City is powered by the 2.4-liter aluminum head Tigershark MultiAir2 I4 engine that delivers 178 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 174 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. The fuel economy rating is 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway or 24 mpg combined.
The ProMaster City features a 9-speed automatic transmission. Because of the advanced technology going into the transmission, competitors will find it difficult to measure up.
Electronic stability control and available ParkView backup camera and ParkSense with audible warning are just three of the 34 active and passive safety and security features in this Chrysler van.
Hands-free driving is made convenient via proven Bluetooth technology. A full-color five-inch touchscreen is available with GPS navigation. My feeling is that this screen is too small for quality viewing. Uconnect Web, powered by Autonet Mobile, is available to U.S. customers.
Austin, Texas, was the designated city for the ProMaster City drive. This van was great when it came to motoring down alleys and entering small parking lots. It had great turn radius for delivery to small stores or restaurants with small delivery docks or no docks at all. The driver has good visibility of side and rear areas when backing or turning into or away from compressed parking areas.
Whether slicing through Austin’s fast-paced traffic on Interstate 35, or traveling to smaller cities beyond the suburbs on narrow two-lane highways or farm-to-market roads, the ProMaster City never once lost its poise or composure on narrow curves or single land bridges. Cargo never shifted and driver fatigue never ascended.
ProMaster City is not some clunker-laden, breadbox-looking van like the one Uncle Jack uses to haul his riding lawn mower around town. It has distinctive good looks, great power, handles well, and maintains a size and ability to do whatever the task demands. Yes, you could loan Uncle Jack your ProMaster City. But not likely!
Tradesman cargo van: MSRP $23,100
Tradesman SLT cargo van: MSRP $24,655
Wagon: MSRP $24,130
Wagon SLT: MSRP $25,655
Plus a $995 destination charge for all vans
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or firstname.lastname@example.org.