Pros: Well-priced; good size for city driving; powerful V6 engine

Cons: Outdated compared to most rivals; not for heavy-duty loads

What's New: The RAM C/V is unchanged for the 2014 model year.

Sometimes called the RAM Cargo or the RAM Cargo Van, the 2014 RAM C/V Tradesman is -- as its name implies -- a commercial-grade cargo van. Essentially a Dodge Grand Caravan without rear seats, the RAM C/V is larger than a Ford Transit Connect but smaller than full-size cargo vans such as the Chevrolet Express and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

The RAM C/V is offered in just one trim: a stripped-down base model called the Tradesman. It's aimed at shoppers who want a new cargo van without spending a fortune. That explains the price tag of just over $22,000 with shipping, which is far less than rivals such as the Chevrolet Express (which starts at $28,500) and even the smaller Ford Transit Connect (which starts around $23,500).

Under the hood, the RAM C/V boasts a powerful engine: Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. It produces a whopping 283 horsepower and uses a 6-speed automatic, which means its power comes on quickly -- especially with no rear seats to add weight. Fuel economy is strong, with Environmental Protection Agency ratings for the C/V falling at 18 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway -- just shy of the 4-cylinder Transit Connect's 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy fuel rating.

Like most cargo vans, the RAM C/V doesn't include a lot of standard features. For instance, an alarm and rear glass are reserved for the van's options list. But the C/V does include keyless entry, power windows, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel audio controls and Chrysler's Uconnect audio system with an auxiliary jack for music. A Uconnect infotainment package, which includes voice control and satellite radio, is optional.

Despite the C/V's Grand Caravan roots, the van offers a little more capacity than a usual minivan. Its payload capacity, for instance, is 3,600 pounds, while the C/V can tow up to 1,800 pounds. Still, other cargo vans offer more capabilities -- and most include dual hinged rear doors, rather than a rear lift gate, for easier cargo access.

Nonetheless, the 2014 RAM C/V Tradesman has enough merit to justify consideration if you're looking for a new cargo van on a budget.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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