by Adam Lynton
Smaller than the Ram ProMaster, the City variant still offers a lot of versatility and functionality. For a small van, it is still eminently spacious inside and presents buyers with an impressive amount of cargo space. Only five seats are available within the van, while the more customizable Ford Transit Connect can seat up to seven. The Ram van is also less technically advanced. But, its engine is slightly stronger than the base engine in most rivals, developing 187 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. With a similar price tag and fuel economy to leading segment rivals, the ProMaster is worth considering if you need to move both people and cargo around town.
No mechanical changes have been made for the new year, but the exterior has seen some minor touch-ups. The most notable changes are those to the grille, which has been redesigned to integrate the Ram-themed grille that is present on the manufacturer's pickup truck line.
You can start hauling your passengers around town for as little as $26,195, though you may want to tweak the base vehicle with a few extra add-ons to suit your specific needs. The SLT trim adds a slightly more upscale interior with a handful of extra features, all for an extra $1,650. Again, you may want to customize the van a bit, but it's quite unlikely that you will need to pay more than $30,000 for the passenger van you desire. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, or Ram's $1,595 destination charge.
See trim levels and configurations:
This is a box on wheels, a particularly tall one at that, and it handles as such. Going around bends will require you to slow to a crawl, as there will be a lot of lean and roll involved. Packing the van with people and cargo lowers its center of gravity considerably, giving it a more grounded feel on the road. But, then, you will need to drive even more cautiously, as the ProMaster isn't exactly flush with advanced safety tech.
The steering centers well, but it's weighted for town driving. Don't expect much resistance, nor any communication about what the wheels are doing. It does allow for relatively nimble maneuvering around town though, where this small van thrives. The brakes are strong enough to stop the weighty vehicle well in emergency situations, but you should never be going fast enough to really put them to the test.
The seats could be more comfortable, but this is a passenger wagon, not a limousine. They are fit for purpose and work in tandem with the slightly stiff suspension to keep most road disruptions out of the cabin. Wind noise is well managed but road noise can intrude a bit. The engine isn't overly aggressive, so it keeps to itself, for the most part.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The compact van market may not be particularly crowded, but it is highly competitive, with each manufacturer trying to optimize the balance between form and function. This is particularly tricky when it comes to passenger vans, as people require at least a little more consideration than cargo. The Ram ProMaster does a pretty good job on this front, but it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared to more refined rivals like the Ford Transit Connect. The Ram is extremely spacious inside, and since it only comes equipped with seating for five, a lot of space is left over for cargo, making it an ideal van for family trips or taxiing people who are likely to have plenty of luggage, such as tourists.
However, the van doesn't offer much in the way of modern amenities, with no smartphone integration, a lack of diverse charging ports, or even a CD player. And the four-speaker sound system is quite lackluster. On top of this, no advanced driver-assist or safety features come standard, and only rear parking assist is offered as an optional upgrade. For a vehicle designed to move people safely, this is a poor showing in the market.
On the plus side, the van is price-competitive and offers decent fuel economy. It also comes equipped with a stronger engine than most rivals, meaning you will get around town that much faster.
If you need to balance between people and cargo, and don't really need all the modern tech that a lot of buyers are starting to expect on a new purchase, then the Ram ProMaster might fit the bill for you. But, with a little customization, many vans offered by competitors can meet the same requirements without making so many sacrifices. Thus, it is hard to consider the Ram ProMaster as anything more than serviceable, and certainly not one of the better buys.
With very little price difference between the two trim levels, there is little reason not to splurge and get the SLT. It may not add many extra features, but what it does add is welcome. The extra adjustability for the driver's seat is much-needed, and the upgraded cloth upholstery and leather-wrapped steering wheel add a sense of comfort to the spartan van. We also suggest adding the optional rear parking sensors for a little boost in confidence when parking the bulky van.
|Ram ProMaster City Passenger Wagon||178 hp||21/28 mpg||$33,075|
|Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon||162 hp||24/28 mpg||$35,600|
|Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van||178 hp||21/28 mpg||$32,580|
With a 162-hp four-cylinder as standard, the Ford Transit Connect is a little bit weaker than its Ram rival, and its slightly higher curb weight doesn't help it move any faster. However, it is moving faster than the ProMaster when it comes to updating its features. With available tech including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring, the Transit is leaps and bounds ahead of the old-fashioned Ram passenger wagon. And while the ProMaster may have more cargo capacity as standard, the Ford van can be configured with a long wheelbase that nullifies this advantage. It can also seat more with the longer body. With similar price tags and fuel efficiency, it's clear that the Ford Transit Connect is the more versatile passenger van.
Powered by the same engine and sporting the same dimensions, the only difference between the two vans is the interior. Where the City Passenger Wagon has five seats as standard, the Cargo only gets two. However, even with five seats, the Passenger Wagon supplies an impressive amount of cargo space: 74.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 101.7 cubic feet with the seats folded down. By comparison, the City Cargo delivers 131.7 cubic feet. So you need to ask yourself, is an extra 30 cubic feet of cargo space worth sacrificing the dual functionality of the Wagon? The same features are offered on both sets of vans, with even the trim levels sharing the same names. So unless you need every square inch of space you can get, it may be worth considering the City Passenger as a work van than can double up for family road trips or carpooling for soccer club.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Ram ProMaster City Passenger Wagon: