The 2018 Ram ProMaster City is a van designed for, well, the city. It’s the sort of last-mile vehicle that supports delivery services once long-haul trucks have brought the merchandise to a local warehouse. It is ideal for tradesmen who carry a lot of tools, but not necessarily materials like sheets of plywood or drywall. Well-suited to crowded urban streets, these smaller Ram vans are easier to park and maneuver than their full-size cousins. They also provide better mileage. These are all reasons that demand for smaller vans has increased, and the ProMaster City has some competition.
Basically an Americanized treatment of the FIAT Doblo sold in other markets, the ProMaster City is available in cargo and passenger configurations. Its pleasing driving dynamics, utility and solid fuel economy are all the street creds it needs to qualify as an inner-city warrior.
What’s New for 2018?
Uconnect 3 with a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera are now standard.
What We Like
More compact and maneuverable than full-size vans; more cargo space than other compact vans; 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
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, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.
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. The passenger model, named the ProMaster City Wagon, offers a second-row bench seat and second-row rear side windows. The ProMaster City Wagon is about $1,300 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 ($25,540 for the Tradesman; $26,840 for the Wagon) include only basic convenience features — keyless entry, power windows, air conditioning, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth, a backup camera and Chrysler’s Uconnect 3 with a 5-in touchscreen, 4-speaker stereo, USB and iPod connectivity among a few other frills.
Drivers who step up to the ProMaster City SLT ($27,190 for the Tradesman; $28,490 for the Wagon) get a few more features, such as body-color bumpers and power/heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and Uconnect with navigation.
The SLT offers two major packages: The Popular Equipment Group (power rear windows and heated front seats) and the Lights and Wheels Group, which adds 16-in alloy wheels and fog lights. Available on all trims: Rear parking sensors, remote start, satellite radio capability, Wi-Fi hotspot and a full-size spare tire. Other options include a rear wiper, various roof rack and rail configurations and partitions that separate the front seats from the cargo area.
The 2017 Ram ProMaster City comes standard with front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, backup camera and anti-lock brakes. Rear parking sensors are available on the options list. There are no accident-avoidance tech features available.
The ProMaster City has not been crash tested by a third party.
Behind the Wheel
Here’s what 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 inches wide and 51.8 inches tall, adding up to a total of 131.7 cu ft. of cargo space. That’s 9 cu ft. more cargo space than the Nissan 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 bigger cargo vans 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. That’s relative, though, as it still reaches 60 miles per hour from standstill 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 sufficient sound-deadening materials, 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
2018 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.
2018 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.
Although we like the cargo van a lot, we’d steer clear of the passenger wagon. There are many other better passenger-van choices out there. For the extra $1,300, we’d opt for the 2018 Ram ProMaster City SLT with its power mirrors, cruise control and available option packages. Yes, it’s a work van, but there’s nothing wrong with a creature comfort or two.