Reviews

2015 Ram ProMaster City Driving Impressions


The ProMaster City operates like a mid-size sedan and ride quality splits the difference between that and a half-ton pickup. If you can drive a car you can drive this.

The 178-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder has output similar to the Ford Transit Connect’s 2.5-liter, but City has nine gears to multiply that with rather than six. That gives ProMaster City the jump at traffic lights or stop signs, without costing highway fuel economy at the other end. A 1.6 EcoBoost Transit Connect cargo van is likely the only van quicker.

That said, you’ll need a light load and moderate (say less than 70 mph) to routinely better the EPA ratings of 21/29. We saw averages in the low 20s driving around town, in the mid-upper teens towing in stop-and-go, and about 26 for mostly highway work. As always your mileage will vary, and we’d not be surprised if highway mpg was twice that of leadfoots in the city.

With nine forward gears and four of them overdrive ProMaster City changes frequently on undulating highways, but those are usually smooth and on-demand so we found little need to shift manually. You will need a good prod of the pedal for things like overtaking. Nominal torque steer was noted under heavy acceleration, moreso if the City was heavily loaded and less inclined to spin a front tire and have traction control take over.

Unlike competitors ProMaster City has hydraulic-assist (rather than electric) rack-and-pinion steering, giving the driver more feedback and better weighting than the others…and many new cars. The only negative regarding steering is the larger-than-average space required for a U-turn. Brakes proved solid, with straight stops even fully loaded or towing an unbraked trailer, and the parking brake held that trailer on a slope.

ProMaster City also uses unique independent rear suspension challengers don’t. General ride firmness is similar but at least as good as a pickup with the same load capacity as a pickup with larger, bump-muting tires. Ride quality compares fairly with the competition on smooth roads, but on any other surface the bi-link rear end feels better controlled and less taxing on occupants or cargo.

What might surprise most is how quiet the Tradesman is inside, with none of the echo or rattle-can effect you might expect of a large, hollow metal container. Though the Wagon isn’t notably quieter than its competition, the Cargo van appears to have a significant advantage here, and anything that minimizes fatigue makes happier, safer drivers or employees.

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