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2015 Ram ProMaster City: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2015

The compact cargo van segment is heating up, and the 2015 Ram ProMaster City is the latest model to enter the fray. Based on a European-market FIAT van called the Doblo, the ProMaster City actually offers cargo and passenger configurations -- though the vast majority of sales will be to shoppers interested in a small cargo van with city-friendly capabilities.

And indeed, city-friendly capabilities are what the ProMaster City is all about. The small van offers smaller sizing than its full-size ProMaster van stablemate, along with improved gas mileage numbers and dimensions that are more suited to city life. Unfortunately, the ProMaster City's smaller size also means a smaller interior and less space for stuff -- so shoppers interested in the biggest and best will want to skip the ProMaster City and instead check out the larger ProMaster.

But those who aren't looking for a full-sized van will find the ProMaster City to be a nice addition to the compact van game, as we've covered in our review below.

What's New for 2015?

The ProMaster City is all new for 2015, joining the larger ProMaster van in Ram's lineup.

What We Like

Highly useful; surprisingly pleasant driving dynamics; excellent fuel economy (for a van)

What We Don't

Passenger model is not advisable; few luxuries; feels like the utilitarian commercial vehicle that it is

How Much?

$24,000-$26,600

Fuel Economy

The ProMaster City offers only one engine: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. It's only offered with front-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The ProMaster City is offered in two versions. The cargo van, dubbed the ProMaster City Tradesman, features only two front seats and no rear side windows, while the passenger model, dubbed the ProMaster City Wagon, offers a second-row bench seat and second-row rear side windows. The ProMaster City Wagon is exactly $1,000 more expensive than its Tradesman counterpart. Both the Wagon and the Tradesman offer two trim levels -- the base model and the upscale SLT trim -- that share roughly the same equipment.

Base-level ProMaster models ($24,000 for the Tradesman; $25,000 for the Wagon) include only the basics: keyless entry, power windows, a 4-speaker stereo with USB and iPod connectivity, and air conditioning, among a few other frills.

Drivers who step up to the ProMaster SLT ($25,600 for the Tradesman; $26,600 for the Wagon) get a few more features, such as body-color mirrors and bumpers, power mirrors, heated mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth and Chrysler's Uconnect system with a 5-inch touchscreen.

Options aren't plentiful. The van offers three major packages: the popular equipment group (an improved stereo, power rear windows and heated front seats), the rear backup camera group (rear parking sensors and a backup camera) and the lights and wheels group, which adds 16-in alloy wheels and fog lights. Other options include a remote starter, a rear wiper, satellite radio and partitions that separate the front seats from the cargo area.

Safety

Because the 2015 Ram ProMaster City is so new, it has not yet been crash-tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But the van boasts a surprising amount of standard safety features, including front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, with a backup camera and rear parking sensors available on the options list.

Behind the Wheel

The ProMaster City is just like a typical compact American pickup truck, except it has an enclosed box instead of a bed -- and what a useful box it is. When outfitted as a cargo van, the box is 87.2 inches long, 61.8 inches wide and 51.8 inches tall, making it a total of 131.7 cu ft. of cargo space. That's 9 cu ft. more cargo space than the NV200 (and its Chevrolet City Express doppelganger) and 3.1 cu ft. more than the long-wheelbase version of the Ford Transit Connect.

On the road, the ProMaster City is more agile and far easier than most trucks to drive and park in the city, where buyers are likely to use it to make pickups or deliveries. Better yet, the overall feel isn't like that of a typical van. It's more akin to a small crossover: It's smooth and controlled. We also like the ProMaster City's engine, which feels stronger than the powerplants in rival models. But it's still not very muscular, as it reaches 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in a mediocre 10 seconds.

That's the good news. The bad news is the ProMaster City is a commercial vehicle that's built to a price. It lacks sound-deadening material, so it tends to creak and rattle on the road -- though the same can be said for most small vans. It also lacks amenities, and the quality of materials is cut-rate. The dash is almost entirely made of hard plastic, and it's hard to find anything close to a soft-touch surface.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Transit Connect -- The Transit Connect is the ProMaster City's chief rival. It offers similar pricing, fuel economy, engine power and sizing. You'll want to drive the Ford before you sign the papers on a RAM.

2015 Nissan NV200 -- Also sold as the Chevrolet City Express, the NV200 is another major competitor to the ProMaster City. Pricing is lower, but the NV200 is also smaller than the Transit Connect.

Used RAM C/V Tradesman -- If you need something a little bigger than the ProMaster City, consider a used C/V Tradesman, a larger cargo van based on the Dodge Grand Caravan. It has more power and more room than the ProMaster City, though it lacks certain cargo van basics, such as side-hinged rear doors.

Used Chevrolet Express -- If you want something larger, consider the Chevrolet Express and twin GMC Savana, which offer V8 power and dimensions that just stretch the boundaries of the term "city-friendly." You'll want to consider a used model, though, as new prices are several thousand dollars more than the ProMaster City's base MSRP.

AutoTrader's Advice

This one is easy: We'd go with an SLT model, and opt for the Tradesman version. We'd skip the Wagon because virtually every other van is better if you want to carry passengers, and we'd skip the base model because it lacks some of today's most basic automotive necessities, such as power mirrors, cruise control and Bluetooth.

Find a Ram ProMaster City for sale

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Used 2015 RAM ProMaster City SLT Wagon
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ram ProMaster City: New Car Review - Autotrader