by James Allen
Those after family-friendly creature comforts need not apply, but the Ram ProMaster City does admittedly strike a pleasant balance an affordable commercial vehicle that can also accommodate some needs outside of work requirements. Better still, the ProMaster City is also one of the best vehicles in this segment, courtesy of its impressively frugal engine, satisfactory fit-and-finish and ideal practicality capabilities. For those in the market for such a vehicle, the Ram ProMaster City is a very intriguing ownership proposition.
Far from being plush, but comfortable and sturdy enough for day-to-day tasks
Given the commercial vehicle nature of the Ram ProMaster City, the van's interior is more decked out for sturdiness and durability than style and design. That said, the Ram ProMaster City has a relatively upscale cabin for this class, and overall fit-and-finish is very good. The seats are also very comfortable and supportive, and headroom is satisfactory (rear seat legroom on the five-seater 'Wagon' models, however, isn't that great). Trunk space is expectedly good on the Ram ProMaster City: 'Wagon' versions have up to 101 cubic feet of cargo capacity to offer, with the commercial van 'Tradesman' spec being even more commodious at 131.7 cubic feet.
Nimble and easy to steer in tighter areas. Very clearly a van at home in towns and cities
With the Ram ProMaster City essentially being a European van ported over to the States with a Ram badge on the hood, it's perhaps unsurprising the vehicle is right at home in tighter spots. Light controls and good forward visibility make it easy to point the ProMaster City where you want it, and the tight turning circle in particular makes the Ram extremely manoeuvrable. Though the softer suspension does result in some body lean when cornering and slight bobbing when driving over undulating roads at speed (especially when there's no cargo being carried), but does mean the ride is very smooth when driving in towns and cities. Rear visibility, though, is lacking: sizeable blind spots are generated by the lack of windows between the passenger door and rear pillar, and it's worth pointing out not all versions are available with a rear window.
A very flexible powertrain, topped off by best-in-class fuel consumption figures
Only one engine is available for the Ram ProMaster City, so it's reassuring that the powertrain is rather splendid. Plenty of oomph from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine means there's good amounts of acceleration even when the van's loaded up, with the nine-speed automatic transmission keeping the engine in the optimum power band. The transmission shifts smoothl (though can be hesitant to promptly select the appropriate gear), and the engine itself is also more than happy to settle down at cruising speeds. Arguably the highlight, however, is the fuel consumption: with claims of 21mpg in the city and 29mpg on the highway, the Ram ProMaster City is comfortably the most efficient vehicle in this class.
Not crammed with features, but there's enough here to satisfy the needs of target buyers
The base Ram ProMaster City is relatively utilitarian equipment-wise compared with more conventional offerings, but still has a decent amount as standard considering the base price ($23,595 for the Tradesman commercial vehicle, $24,595 for five-seater Wagon models') . All models get air-conditioning, keyless entry and a more basic version of the touchscreen system found in a majority of Fiat and Jeep models. A reversing camera and a rear window wiper are options, but are reasonably priced at $565 and $250 respectively. No official safety data is present for the Ram ProMaster City, but the equivalent European-spec vehicle performed reasonably well in its native crash tests for the 2017 model year, and all models do come with front, side, rear and curtain airbags as standard.
It won't appeal to car buyers who'd prefer more creature comforts, but the Ram ProMaster City is a very practical and well-rounded alternative to more mainstream family vehicles. Plus, in its commercial vehicle guise, the ProMaster City is amongst the best the van segment has to offer.