2016 ProMaster City New Car Test Drive
The 2015 Ram ProMaster City is a new compact van. It comes as a ProMaster City Tradesman cargo van with or without cargo partition, or a five-seat ProMaster City Wagon with lots of space behind the seats. If you want a three-row van or a leather interior and other luxuries, your Ram dealer should direct you to Chrysler's Town & Country.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides motivation, aided by a nine-speed automatic that makes ProMaster feel quick from the get-go yet yields reasonable highway fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 21/29 mpg. We found the combination provides adequate power and smooth operation.
The driving position is similar to that of a sedan, the controls simple to understand and operate, and interior storage options well varied. Visibility is what you'd expect, with huge front windows and fairly good aft windows on Wagons. If you won't have shelves and racks covering them, get the side and rear windows on the Cargo van for better visibility.
ProMaster City drives surprisingly well, aided by steering with good feel, independent rear suspension that deals with rough roads better than competitors, and a relatively refined nature for a cargo van little more than a large empty metal can. It's not silent, but we could converse with rear-seat passengers at speed, and it doesn't turn very tight, requiring 42 feet of roadway for a U-turn.
ProMaster City is rated to cart around 5,900 pounds of van, people, cargo and trailer, and the four-cylinder does that as well as six-cylinder pickups dealing with 10,000 pounds. Driving fully loaded will ding fuel economy, but not as much as with cargo piled up in an open pickup bed where aerodynamic drag and weight are key factors.
By volume, a Tradesman cargo van carries more than 130 cubic feet and by weight up to 1883 pounds of personnel and materiel; top tow rating is 2,000 pounds. A solid partition to separate occupants and cargo is available, with or without a window. The passenger Wagon version carries approximately 200 pounds less because of greater standard insulation, added rear seat and more glass. That ability to carry weight compares favorably with many mid-size and some full-size sport utilities.
The ProMaster City Wagon offers room for five adults, with good legroom and headroom only one luxury SUV approaches. The rear seats is divided equally in thirds, and sliding side doors on all versions make access easy even if something is parked next to you, loading toddlers into car seats for example.
Wagon cargo space also mirrors many large SUVs, with a nearly four-foot square flat floor area that extends upward more than four feet because the sides and rear doors don't taper inward. It's also a good place to roll in wheeled vehicles or have dogs jump in because the load deck is less than two feet off the ground.
With its working background ProMaster City will not replace a luxury cute-ute. However, they all come with comfortable cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a few clearly labeled personal electronic inputs, power door locks and front windows and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Noteworthy upgrades include navigation, rear park sensors and camera, UConnect Web access, heated front seats and power, heated folding mirrors.
ProMaster City is functional more than stylish, less expensive rather than feature-laden. Its principal challengers are the Nissan NV200 and Chevrolet City Express that are less powerful and smaller but less expensive, and the Ford Transit Connect which offers more variety is size, an alternate engine choice in the cargo van, and three-row seating with leather in the top trim, but that base price is above ProMaster City's optioned tariff.
The ProMaster City comes in two-seat Tradesman Cargo Van and five-seat Wagon models, each in ST or SLT trim levels. All ProMaster City come with a 2.4-liter engine, 9-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
Tradesman ($23,130) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power door locks and front windows, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch steel wheels, manual low-back seats, 60/40 rear door and AM/FM UConnect media hub with USB and auxiliary input. Options include most of the SLT upgrades below, a cargo area partition without ($305) or with ($305) a window, rear door glass, sliding door vented glass and all option groups except fog lights/alloy wheels and Popular Equipment with heated front seats, power second-row windows, six-speaker audio. Adding the UConnect 5.0 touchscreen also brings a leather wrapped steering wheel.
The Wagon ($24,130) version adds a 60/40 split fold/tumble seat, rear and sliding door deep-tint glass, additional insulation and two-row side curtain airbags.
Tradesman SLT ($24,655) and Wagon SLT ($25,655) add body-color bumpers, upgraded cloth upholstery, driver lumbar adjustment, power heated folding outside mirrors, full wheel covers, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel and UConnect 5.0 touchscreen with Bluetooth. Options include UConnect 5.0 navigation ($860), fog lights and alloy wheels ($495), rear wipe/wash/defrost ($250), popular equipment group ($495), trailer tow pack ($435), roof rails and cross bars ($455), rearview camera and park sensors ($495), Mopar vehicle tracking ($540) and UConnect Web ($635).
Safety equipment includes front, front-side, driver-knee and side-curtain airbags for all seats, tire-pressure monitors, electronic stability with trailer sway control, antilock brakes with brake assist and hill-start assist. The primary safety option is the rear camera/park sensors package.