Commercial vehicle offerings are experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately. First, the full-size van segment has reinvented itself with the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV making big news lately, and now the compact van segment is exploding. In the last several years, we've seen new versions of the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200, Chevrolet Express City and now Ram's ProMaster City.
Based off the well-established Fiat Doblo from the Fiat Commercial side of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the ProMaster City is a front-wheel-drive, unibody-constructed small van that Ram says has best-in-class payload, cargo volume, powertrain efficiency and more.
Ram is hoping to benefit from the shift away from bulky body-on-frame vans with V-8s in favor of smaller, nimbler platforms like the new ProMaster City. The little van uses a 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder that FCA calls the Tigershark. It has a unique valve actuation setup that allows for precise control of engine intake and exhaust events. Called MultiAir2 technology, the result is a base engine in the small van segment with best-in-class horsepower and torque: 178 hp at 6,250 rpm and 174 pounds-feet at 3,900 rpm. The engine is mated to a segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission (948TE) using a 3.73:1 axle ratio.
The maximum payload of the 122.4-inch-wheelbase van is listed as 1,883 pounds, which leads all competitors in the class. Like its sibling, the Ram Cargo Van, the ProMaster City uses a front independent suspension and rear coil springs for better ride quality (versus traditional leaf springs) when empty and loaded.
Exterior styling is not much to brag about, especially if you think European designs odd looking. There's not much Ram can do about that since the shape and platform come from an existing vehicle. Inside, the dash and instrument layout is actually quite nice looking, with a large windshield and dashboard that is typical of other players in this segment. Whether passenger or Tradesman model, there are plenty of small and large storage cubbies for the driver and passengers to use.
Cargo room is impressive, with more than 130 cubic feet of capacity behind the front seats. Six chassis-connected tie-down rings in the floor have a combined rating of 1,000 pounds with more than 48 inches of space between the fenderwells and 60 inches of width between the walls.
Whether the driving experience is similar to other vehicles of the segment, where there can often be significant "booming" due to the Spartan insulation and cavernous volume, we'll have to wait for our first drive opportunity that will happen later this year.
This new Class 1 van offers almost 35 passive and active safety features, including a backup camera and park assist.
The ProMaster City offers three base Tradesman trims (a cargo van without windows, a van with rear windows and a van with rear and side windows), three Tradesman SLTs (a cargo van without windows, a van with rear windows and a van with rear and side windows) and the passenger Wagon and Wagon SLT (both standard with rear and side windows).
Pricing will be announced later this fall, and all ProMaster City vans are built in Bursa, Turkey. Awarded the World Class Manufacturing Gold Medal, this 3.6-million-square-foot (83.7 acres) state-of-the-art plant also assembles the Fiat Doblo. The optional cargo van configuration is upfitted at the Chrysler Group Transformation Center in Baltimore.
To read the ProMaster City press release, click here.
To see the most up-to-date specifications for the ProMaster City, click here.