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The Class 1 cargo van market is the next big thing in white vans. With fuel economy becoming more and more important as well as the full sized vans growing ever larger, the big players in the cargo moving market have small plans for us all. Chrysler has long dominated this small segment with the Dodge RAM C/V, formerly known as the Caravan C/V and the Grand Caravan C/V. Essentially a white-van version of their passenger minivan, the C/V is bring phased out in favor of a European style small cargo van. That’s nothing new of course.
The first European vehicle to enter the segment was the Ford Transit Connect, an odd looking Euro van with a Ford Focus engine and 4-speed automatic. Next came Nissan’s NV200, a boxy hauler with a Nissan Sentra engine and CVT. Not to be outdone, but not wanting to spend any real money on the problem, GM re-badges the NV200 as the 2015 Chevrolet City Express. Now that Fiat and Chrysler are one, the new RAM ProMaster is none other than the latest version of the Fiat Doblo.
No, the ProMaster City is not just a Doblo with a RAM logo on the front, the 2015 ProMaster City is more of a redesign of the existing vehicle with a focus on North America. This is very much the same as what happened to make the Fiat Ducato into the RAM ProMaster. The altered body designs give the PMC a class leading load capacity (although still shy of 2,000lbs), and a more American engine lineup.
Instead of borrowing compact car engines like the others, Chrysler borrows a mid-size sedan engine and transmission from the Chrysler 200. The 2.4L Tigershark four-cylinder engine is mated to the same ZF 9HP 9-Speed automatic as you find under the hood of the Acura TLX V6, Chrysler 200, Jeep Cherokee and the Range Rover Evoque. The engine and low first gear combine to make the ProMaster City feel peppier around town and the tall 9th gear greatly improved fuel economy especially at higher speeds.
While I find the Transit Connect more attractive inside and out (the RAM is a little Euro-funky inside), the ProMaster makes a strong argument for practicality. There’s also a 5-passenger version for the active family that is seeking the “un-minivan”.
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