While this may be the third road test of the Ram ProMaster City cargo van on CarBuzzard.com (see John’s review here, and Nick’s review here), this is the only one that actually used the cargo space to its maximum capability.
Team Killeen is on the move to a new location, and we had two choices: pay ridiculous prices charged by big moving companies, or turn the move into a road test of vans. Being cheap, we chose the latter. From experience, we have learned that, to make the most of the space in a garage, put things in neatly stackable storage boxes. This not only makes it more organized (especially for Christmas decorations), but also incredibly easy when it comes time to move. No wasting money on disposable cardboard moving boxes.
Keeping items uniform in size makes it much easier to pack into a van. The ProMaster City offers, according to Ram, best-in-class cargo width between the wheelwells, best-in-class GVWR of 5,395 pounds, best-in-class payload at 1,883 pounds, and best-in-class cargo capacity. We were going to put all of that to the test in one load.
As far as actual dimensions this is how the PMC stacks up:
|Cargo length, in.||87.2|
|Cargo width, in.||60.4|
|Cargo height at roof, in.||51.8|
|Max cargo volume, cu ft.||131.7|
|Cargo width at wheelwell, in.||48.4|
|Load floor height, in.||21.5|
|Side door opening, w x h, in.||26 x 46|
|Rear door openings w x h, in.||48 x 49|
|Rear door swing, degrees||90/180|
|Rear door split, driver/passenger||60/40|
|Rear step-in height, in.||21.5|
|Side step in height, in.||18.8|
Dimensions are important to know if you’re moving odd-shaped items, but in this case, everything was in 20-gallon tubs. Being smart packers, we kept the heavier items in front of the rear axle, and did our best to distribute the load. All totaled, the tubs came to a maximum weight of about 1,300 pounds, so if we’d had more room, we could have carried another 500 pounds of cargo. Impressive.
One of the nicest features was the solid partition ($305) separating the passenger cabin from the cargo area. While it renders the rearview mirror useless, the sideview mirrors with bottom, wide-angle mirrors gave a great overview on both sides, so the rearview mirror wasn’t necessary. Plus the rear back-up camera package for $495 that included ParkSense rear park assist system provided total confidence. We liked the partition because we could put more cargo in the back without worrying about an obstructed rear view, plus we felt safer driver since none of the cargo could fly forward and become a road hazard or endanger the occupants.
Even with the vehicle loaded to max cargo volume, the suspension didn’t bottom out, and there was plenty of room for wheel travel while driving. The SLT ProMaster City really is intended as a short-trip vehicle, so the lack of rear disc brakes shouldn’t be that big a concern, since the fronts are disc, but we’d prefer discs all around and larger tires (16 inch standard) if we were to drive for many more miles at a time.
Because this van is basically a rebadged Fiat Doblo from Europe, all the features we love in FCA vehicles aren’t necessarily available for this ride yet. If the interest and sales stay high, we might just get more “Americanized” goodies. This includes the Uconnect screen and features, which were functional but not as good as the big-daddy setup in the likes of the Dodge Challenger or Chrysler 300, for example.
Our new home is less than 300 miles away, which gave us plenty of time with the ProMaster City. Our first concern was if the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine would be able cruise up to 4,000 feet altitude with all the cargo weight, relying only on its 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Lucky for us, the weather was good and the roads were dry, and the ProMaster City drove like a trooper on the highway. We averaged around 28 mpg, which is close to the highway number of 29, and we were fully weighed down. The nine-speed automatic didn’t hunt for gears, and was well spaced for this application. Even the steering provided decent feedback on the road.
The cabin area is sparse, but the driver’s armrest provided good comfort, and there’s an overhead storage area that runs the width of the vehicle for those businesses that need to keep clipboards and other small items handy. A single USB port and Bluetooth kept us connected while on the road.
For a base price of $24,655 an as tested of $27,230 (partition, camera group, lights/wheels group, SiriusXM radio), this is one of the most practical, affordable, and impressive work vans on the market.
Photography © Team Killeen and courtesy of FCA