“The driver’s cabin looks like it’s out of a car and not a van, the dash and seats are much more sophisticated than any work van I have seen.”
Ram follows last year’s introduction of its popular full-size Promaster work van with the launch of a smaller Promaster City version.
The original van was designed to compete with highly successful Mercedes Sprinter and this version goes head to head with the Ford Transit Connect. Gone are the days when a work van was a full-size truck or traditional North American-styled van, these European designs are here to stay and they make more sense.
This new Promaster City isn’t really new at all, in fact it has been sold in Europe as the Fiat Doblo for many years and it has won The International Van award twice. FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, formerly Chrysler) has taken the third generation Doblo and modified it to suit our rougher roads and tailored it with a larger powertrain.
The back doors of any work van are used a lot and Ram uses a 60/40 split to allow the driver easy access to the cargo without having to open the entire door open. The rear doors can also fully extend to 180 degrees for loading pallets and large objects. The width between the rear wheel-wells is wide enough to take a standard sheet of plywood or big-box store pallet.
Above the rear wheel-wells are walls that are nearly vertical, making it easy to outfit this van with custom storage units. Ram claims that the rear cargo area is the largest in the class at 3,729 litres. Another area that is constantly used on these types of vans is the roof and the Promaster City has pre-drilled and sealed roof rack mounting points making it easy for the owner to place ladders. The driver’s cabin looks like it is out of a car and not a van, the dash and seats are much more sophisticated than any work van I have seen.
Ram sells four different versions of the Promaster city; two work versions and two passenger versions. The base work version starts at $27,995 and the higher end version with painted bumpers is $28,995. The passenger models are perfect for a weekday work van and the rear seats can be used for family duties on the weekend. This passenger van might also be a good choice for taxi duty. The passenger models start at $28,995 and a thousand dollars more for painted bumpers. All of these vans come with two sliding doors for easy access regardless of the vehicle’s use.
What makes this van a compelling choice is the capability for the chassis and the engine. It Europe diesel rules the road, but Ram has modified the front engine compartment to make room for a 2.4L 4-cylinder gasoline engine with 178hp – the most in the class 1 van segment. This engine is married to a 9-speed automatic, which has wonderful gearing for pulling away from a standing stop. The drivetrain and the platform have a class-leading payload of 854kg. Unlike the competition, the Promaster City uses an independent rear suspension, rather than a solid rear axle setup, making the handling much more car like. Having a chance to drive this new van through an obstacle course, made me appreciate the nimbleness of the van. Its car-like ride keeps the driver from feeling fatigued.
One of the advantages of Fiat taking over Chrysler is the broader range of products they can introduce into the North American market. The team in Michigan took the award winning Doblo from Fiat and modified it to meet our needs. Things like the springs and shocks being stiffer and raising the ride height to help when driving over our rougher roads. The larger engine, running on gasoline will appeal to a wider audience than diesel but some buyers will wish that a diesel option were available here. At first glance, this Promaster City is something new, from a brand that has a lot of experience building smaller vans for urban environments. If you are in the trades and don’t need a full-size vehicle, this type of van is up to the job.
Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca
Power: 2.4L 178hp 4-cylinder
Sticker price: $27,995-$29,995