The Europeans have been fans of small cargo vans like the Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van for a long time, and with ever-narrowing city streets, we have use for them too. Plus, not everyone needs a van capable of carrying an entire house's worth of furniture. That's where something like the ProMaster City Cargo Van comes in. It isn't especially powerful, with its 2.4-liter four-pot only producing 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. However, its cargo-carrying credentials cannot be denied with up to 1,890 pounds of payload capacity. Competitors like the Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van are less capable but also worth considering, so is the Ram the one to take or not?
Last year's Tradesman SLT trim falls away, leaving just the lone Tradesman for 2022. However, it has been enhanced with several new features. This model now boasts a body-color front fascia, daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, and manual height and lumbar adjustments for the driver's seat.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
The Ram ProMaster City is a simple but attractive vehicle with enough exterior curves to look car-like. Its front is dominated by a pair of halogen headlights below which an elongated grille with the RAM logo is featured. This year, a body-color front fascia is standard, making the little van look slightly more upmarket. Daytime running lights are standard, and the 16-inch steel wheels can be upgraded to alloys in the same size. Front fog lamps can also be fitted as part of a package.
The ProMaster City is typically tall and narrow, with width and height very similar. The former measurement works out to 72.1 inches (excluding the side mirrors) with the latter at 74.2 inches. The side mirrors are quite large, though, so when they are added, width works out to 84.6 inches. Length is 187.1 inches, a fraction longer than the shorter version of the Ford Transit Connect. However, the wheelbase is considerably longer by 17.6 inches (and 1.8 inches longer than the long-wheelbase version of the Ford), for a final figure of 122.4. Ground clearance measures 5.2 inches while curb weight comes in at just below 3,500 pounds.
Whichever variant of the ProMaster City Cargo Van you opt for, the same 2.4-liter four-pot is nestled under the hood. Dubbed Tigershark, it produces 178 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent through a nine-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. In our Ram ProMaster City review, we found that power delivery and output are good, particularly when the van is unladen, but it's not particularly offensive when loaded up either. That said, getting off the line, up a steep hill, or past a large truck on the highway will require some abuse. Unfortunately, the powertrain's foibles are not helped out by the automatic transmission, as it seems to have been tuned by a chimp. At low speeds, it's jarring and clunky, and at highway speeds, it simply refuses to go into top gear. What's the point of a nine-speed if you can only ever use eight cogs? In terms of capability, the ProMaster City Cargo Van can haul up to 1,890 lbs or tow up to 2,000 lbs, which puts it high up in the compact cargo van pecking order.
As with most vans, the handling is not what you'd call sporty, and corners lead to body roll that feels like it's going to cause the little Ram to topple over. Due to a tall profile, crosswinds can be treacherous too. Fortunately, a less-than-fun car is generally very comfortable, and this van is no different, absorbing cracks and small undulations well. Bigger bumps are less well dispensed with, however, and the ride can get crashy if you drive with no mechanical sympathy. In town, the steering is also tuned for the job, with minimal effort allowing for easy parking and traffic maneuvers. Braking is also adequate for the job, although we'd advise against playing chicken with the bottom of a steep slope if the van is fully loaded.
The 2022 Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van scores EPA figures of 21/28/24 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 16-gallon gas tank, this equates to an estimated mixed range of around 384 miles. By comparison, the Ford Transit Connect has a combined EPA score of up to 26 mpg when running on regular gas, depending on which engine you opt for.
As a cargo van, the ProMaster City Cargo seats two up front, while those looking for more passenger-carrying capacity can consider the City Wagon which we review separately or, perhaps, a more comfortable minivan. The seats are easy to get into and are comfortable for either the driver or passenger. Plenty of headroom and legroom are on offer, and visibility out the front is good. Since the rear doors feature window panels rather than windows, the view out the back is nonexistent and you'll rely on the rearview camera for most back-up maneuvers. Alternatively, actual windows are available in this simple but spacious van.
The cargo area length of the ProMaster City Cargo is an impressive 87.2 inches long with 48.4 inches between the wheel wells and a height measurement of 51.8 inches. All this equates to an excellent cargo bay with a volume of 131.7 cubic feet, in which you can carry items with a mass of up to 1,890 lbs. This makes it ideal for the small-business owner.
In the front, the door pockets are capacious and have recesses for water bottles, while the armrest on each door can hold keys. In the center console, a solitary cupholder resides, while a glovebox, a dash-top tray, and a recess in the dash can take supplementary items. There's also a small tray in front of the gear lever for loose change and an additional dash recess on the driver's side where one could store their phone.
Cargo vans aren't generally renowned for a long list of features, but this one misses out on some advanced driver aids that could be crucial for some buyers. What it does get is manually-adjustable front seats (with height and lumbar adjustments for the driver), a manually-adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, electronic roll mitigation, hill-start assist, and trailer sway control. You also get manual air-conditioning and a day/night rearview mirror. Rear parking sensors and cruise control were made standard for the 2022 model year. The options list includes items like heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a rear window defroster.
The infotainment system in the ProMaster City Cargo Van is the Uconnect 3 system which includes a five-inch touchscreen display, four speakers, voice control, Bluetooth, and AM/FM radio, as well as the option of navigation. Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not available, but an old-school aux jack is. The system is fairly easy to use but it's not what can be described as class-leading.
The 2021 Ram ProMaster City has been recalled three times. The issues were for internal damage to the ABS module, a seat belt locking retractor malfunction, and a turn signal malfunction. However, its reliability appears good for most part and, at the time of writing, there were no recalls for 2022 models.
A basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty is included with the sale of the Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van, along with a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance is included for the latter period too, along with a rust perforation warranty that runs for five years regardless of miles covered.
Commercial vehicles are generally not rated by the IIHS or the NHTSA, and the Ram ProMaster City is no different - it has yet to be sent for crash reviews to either of these safety agencies. However, the most essential safety features come standard, with a rearview camera, a suite of airbags that include a driver's knee bag, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, trailer
Vans exist to do a job without excessive complication or unnecessary comfort features. That's exactly what the ProMaster City Cargo Van is all about. It offers excellent payload and available towing capacities, as well as the most cargo volume in the segment. It's relatively comfortable, has numerous cabin storage options, and can be configured with additional comfort features like heated seats to make living with it easier. For the city slicker handyman or small-business owner in the US, this vehicle is ideal, but those who demand smartphone integration or advanced safety features will not be particularly happy with the Ram Cargo Van. The infotainment system is also not one of the best and body roll is rather overwhelming. Nevertheless, this van fulfills its mandate with aplomb and to ask anything more is to pay more.
Prices are even easier to fathom this year as there is only one trim. The price of the Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van starts at an MSRP of $30,475 in the USA. That excludes a destination cost of $1,795.
As there is only one trim to choose from, buying a new ProMaster City Cargo Van is easy. From there, it's all about the options you're interested in. The Trailer-Tow Group by Mopar at $495 is a useful addition with its class III receiver hitch and 4- and 7-pin wiring harness. For a little more comfort, the Heated Seats and Power Mirror Group adds exactly what it describes for $445.
The original, big-boy Transit is one of the best vans on the American market, and the smaller Connect is similarly impressive. Pricing for the Ford starts at just over $1,000 less than the Ram, and its 2.0-liter inline-four reflects that with only 162 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. It's arguably less capable overall, thanks to its shorter body and wheelbase that make for a cargo area of 104.8 cubic feet. However, this model is available as a long-wheelbase variant - something the Ram doesn't offer. In the longer of the Ford's two configurations, cargo volume increases to a ProMaster City Cargo-beating 145.8 cubic feet (when the front passenger seat is folded). In addition, the Ford is more modern in that it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as better handling and more safety features. For us, unless we needed the Ram's payload capacity, we'd opt for the Transit Connect.
Nissan recently discontinued its NV200 Compact Cargo but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider a cheaper second-hand model. It's powered by a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-pot that is coupled to a CVT instead of an automatic. This is an asthmatic power plant compared to that of the Ram, producing just 131 horses and 139 lb-ft of twist. This does help it edge the City Cargo Van in the economy stakes, especially in city driving, but it doesn't have a tow rating as a result. Payload capacity is lower too, at 1,480 lbs versus the Ram's better specs of 1,890 lbs. For us, we'd rather have the Ram. It's more capable, more spacious, and simply more of a van.