New Car Review

2016 Ram ProMaster City: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

The compact cargo van segment is heating up and the 2016 Ram ProMaster City is the latest model to enter the fray. Based on a European market FIAT van called the Doblo and released last year, 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.

Indeed, "city friendly capabilities" are what the Ram 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, for those who aren't looking for a full-sized van will find the ProMaster City to be a nice addition to the compact van category.

What's New for 2016?

After making its debut last year, the ProMaster City's sole change for 2016 is the addition of standard Bluetooth.

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?

$24,100-$27,100

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: a cargo van, dubbed the ProMaster City Tradesman, features only two front seats and no rear side windows, while a 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 -- a base model and an upscale SLT trim -- which share roughly the same equipment.

Base-level ProMaster City models ($24,100 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, air conditioning and new-for-2016 Bluetooth, among few other frills.

Drivers who step up to the ProMaster City SLT ($25,400 for the Tradesman; $27,100 for the Wagon) get a few more features such as body-color mirrors and bumpers, power mirrors, heated mirrors, cruise control and Chrysler's Uconnect system with a 5-inch touchscreen.

The van only offers three major packages: the popular equipment group (an improved stereo, power rear windows, and heated front seats), the rear back-up 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

The 2016 Ram ProMaster City 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

Here's how we think of the ProMaster City: It's just like a typical compact American pickup truck, except with 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 in wide and 51.8 in 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, though 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 that 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

2016 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.

2016 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, like side-hinged rear doors.

Used Chevrolet Express -- If you want something larger still, consider the Chevrolet Express and twin GMC Savana, which offer V8 power and dimensions that only 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 we'd get 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 and cruise control.

Find a Ram Promaster City for sale

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.
2016 Ram ProMaster City: New Car Review - Autotrader