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2015 Ram ProMaster City First Impression

Having been raised in a family involved in the building trade, you’ll hardly be shocked when I state that I like commercial vehicles. However, my take on this somewhat differs from most here in North America as I view vans/trucks as nothing more than utility devices, work tools designed for a specific purpose: a tool to be made use of during the day, before parking in the boss’ compound and driving home in the luxury family-mobile that you’ve slaved so hard to purchase. I’d never dream of asking my wife & kids to ride around in a grimy old work vehicle, which is why I’ve never truly been a pickup type of guy. Oh sure, those are fine for hauling dirt bikes or toys, and for the occasional trip to your local dump with household garbage, but not for genuine work purposes. Of course, until recently, the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none half-ton has been the mainstay of the working Joe, but as Bob Dylan once told us, “The Times, They Are A-Changin." 

What is a Ram ProMaster City? 
The 2015 ProMaster City is yet another purpose-built work tool coming to us from Europe. Somewhat akin to the Ford Transit Connect, it is a commercial vehicle designed to suit any number of trades/businesses (from light-duty delivery services to plumbers and electricians). 

The ProMaster City is based on the Fiat Doblo, a product that’s been around since 2000 (1.3 million sold to date). Twice named “International Van of the Year,” the Doblo was redesigned in 2010 and given a further facelift for 2015, and it’s this version which we will receive (albeit slightly modified for the North American market). 

2015 Ram ProMaster City Prices & Specs 
Although offered in Europe with a variety of powertrains (including a 1.4L gas, 1.3/1.6/2.0L diesel), the only engine choice available for N.A. will be the 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder (the most powerful - 178HP/174ft/lbs Torque). This unit, together with its transmission, will be manufactured in N.A. and shipped to Turkey for final vehicle assembly.

The ProMaster City is the first commercial van ever to feature a 9-speed automatic and one of the first vehicles to be so equipped with a 9-speed transmission in automotive history. This allows the ProMaster City to achieve a best-in-class hwy fuel economy figure of 8.1L/100km, together with some fairly sprightly performance numbers: 0-60 mph in an estimated 9.8 seconds. While this might not shock, nor win many drag races, its 0-30 mph time of 3.7 seconds will certainly assist those with multiple downtown deliveries to perform.

Yet, it doesn’t end there, as the word “best” does tend to pop up quite frequently when discussing the new Ram ProMaster City…

Best-in-class Cargo Capacity: up to 3,729L

Best-in-class GVWR: 2,447kg

Best-in-class Payload: 854kg

Best-in-class Power (standard): 178 horsepower/174 lb-ft of torque

Best-in-class Width between Wheel Wells: 1,229mm

Best-in-class Wheelbase: 3,109mm

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City range consists of four models: the ST & SLT Cargo van and the ST & SLT passenger wagon. Pricing for the cargo version starts at $27,995 (ST) rising $1k to $28,995 for the SLT, while the passenger wagon starts at $28,995 for the ST and $29,995 for the SLT. 

Inside & Out of the 2015 ProMaster City
The exterior of the City looks as it is supposed to: car-like with a large boxy rear! After all, a square box has always been the most efficient way of carrying anything, yet a car is so much nicer to drive than most commercial vehicles. 

The City offers a stylish look, and Dodge was smart in a number of ways; for example the way in which both front and rear bumpers on the base ST model come in black plastic as standard, meaning a minor fender-bender doesn’t place the vehicle off the road and into the paint shop. The same can be said for the wisdom of placing the headlamps/rear lights high up and out of harm’s way. This may sound trivial, but it is a huge plus to any fleet manager wishing to keep his business on the move. Image is important to any business; therefore, a damaged vehicle does not bode well. 
I was also suitably impressed by the interior of the ProMaster City. It feels roomier than its main competitor (the Ford Transit Connect) and is comfortable enough to enjoy a whole day spent behind the wheel. Standard equipment includes one-touch up/down power windows, A/C, Uconnect 3.0 and remote keyless entry. Moving up into the SLT adds such niceties as power heated mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth streaming music, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

In truth, the only bugs I could find on the entire vehicle were the blind-spot portions of the door mirrors which are non-adjustable, and need to be on a panel-sided vehicle!  Of course, a couple of stick-on adjustable ones from Canadian Tire would solve the problem for less than $10, but that’s not really the point, is it?

Driving the 2015 ProMaster City 
I was pleasantly surprised by how the ProMaster City drove, and believe me I  tested this vehicle properly! 

You see, all commercial vehicles share one common trait: they get totally abused their entire lives. Because of this, I drove the ProMaster City precisely how most will operate this product… like I’d stolen it!
Hit the gas, hard on the brakes, never once avoiding pot holes. I constantly slammed the doors and, given the opportunity to test out the vehicle on a purposely designed rough road course, I attacked it like some demented rally driver. I did this with both an empty vehicle and one carrying a half-payload. Throughout all of this, the ProMaster City behaved with impeccable manners. 

There’s no other way of putting it: “I came away suitably impressed.” 

Comparing the 2015 Ram ProMaster City
This vehicle would suit any number of needs, from courier drivers to tradespeople. Sure, there are plenty of products out there today that boast similar versatility. However, few offer this in such a neat package. In truth, its only real competitor is the Ford Transit Connect, and I’d admit to it being a rather difficult choice between the two. Both drive car-like, yet offer excellent fuel economy and impressive cargo capabilities. I guess it simply boils down to a matter of taste. My vote would probably edge slightly towards the ProMaster City, but both would get the job done and that’s really what it’s all about at the end of the day!
 

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