2015 Ram ProMaster City

By April 10, 2015

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City is a new compact van. It comes as a ProMaster City Tradesman cargo van with or without cargo partition, or a five-seat ProMaster City Wagon with lots of space behind the seats. If you want a three-row van or a leather interior and other luxuries, your Ram dealer should direct you to Chrysler’s Town & Country.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides motivation, aided by a nine-speed automatic that makes ProMaster feel quick from the get-go yet yields reasonable highway fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 21/29 mpg. We found the combination provides adequate power and smooth operation.

The driving position is similar to that of a sedan, the controls simple to understand and operate, and interior storage options well varied. Visibility is what you’d expect, with huge front windows and fairly good aft windows on Wagons. If you won’t have shelves and racks covering them, get the side and rear windows on the Cargo van for better visibility.

ProMaster City drives surprisingly well, aided by steering with good feel, independent rear suspension that deals with rough roads better than competitors, and a relatively refined nature for a cargo van little more than a large empty metal can. It’s not silent, but we could converse with rear-seat passengers at speed, and it doesn’t turn very tight, requiring 42 feet of roadway for a U-turn.

ProMaster City is rated to cart around 5,900 pounds of van, people, cargo and trailer, and the four-cylinder does that as well as six-cylinder pickups dealing with 10,000 pounds. Driving fully loaded will ding fuel economy, but not as much as with cargo piled up in an open pickup bed where aerodynamic drag and weight are key factors.

By volume, a Tradesman cargo van carries more than 130 cubic feet and by weight up to 1883 pounds of personnel and materiel; top tow rating is 2,000 pounds. A solid partition to separate occupants and cargo is available, with or without a window. The passenger Wagon version carries approximately 200 pounds less because of greater standard insulation, added rear seat and more glass. That ability to carry weight compares favorably with many mid-size and some full-size sport utilities.

The ProMaster City Wagon offers room for five adults, with good legroom and headroom only one luxury SUV approaches. The rear seats is divided equally in thirds, and sliding side doors on all versions make access easy even if something is parked next to you, loading toddlers into car seats for example.

Wagon cargo space also mirrors many large SUVs, with a nearly four-foot square flat floor area that extends upward more than four feet because the sides and rear doors don’t taper inward. It’s also a good place to roll in wheeled vehicles or have dogs jump in because the load deck is less than two feet off the ground.

With its working background ProMaster City will not replace a luxury cute-ute. However, they all come with comfortable cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a few clearly labeled personal electronic inputs, power door locks and front windows and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Noteworthy upgrades include navigation, rear park sensors and camera, UConnect Web access, heated front seats and power, heated folding mirrors.

ProMaster City is functional more than stylish, less expensive rather than feature-laden. Its principal challengers are the Nissan NV200 and Chevrolet City Express that are less powerful and smaller but less expensive, and the Ford Transit Connect which offers more variety is size, an alternate engine choice in the cargo van, and three-row seating with leather in the top trim, but that base price is above ProMaster City’s optioned tariff.

Model Lineup

The ProMaster City comes in two-seat Tradesman Cargo Van and five-seat Wagon models, each in ST or SLT trim levels. All ProMaster City come with a 2.4-liter engine, 9-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

Tradesman ($23,130) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power door locks and front windows, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch steel wheels, manual low-back seats, 60/40 rear door and AM/FM UConnect media hub with USB and auxiliary input. Options include most of the SLT upgrades below, a cargo area partition without ($305) or with ($305) a window, rear door glass, sliding door vented glass and all option groups except fog lights/alloy wheels and Popular Equipment with heated front seats, power second-row windows, six-speaker audio. Adding the UConnect 5.0 touchscreen also brings a leather wrapped steering wheel.

The Wagon ($24,130) version adds a 60/40 split fold/tumble seat, rear and sliding door deep-tint glass, additional insulation and two-row side curtain airbags.

Tradesman SLT ($24,655) and Wagon SLT ($25,655) add body-color bumpers, upgraded cloth upholstery, driver lumbar adjustment, power heated folding outside mirrors, full wheel covers, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel and UConnect 5.0 touchscreen with Bluetooth. Options include UConnect 5.0 navigation ($860), fog lights and alloy wheels ($495), rear wipe/wash/defrost ($250), popular equipment group ($495), trailer tow pack ($435), roof rails and cross bars ($455), rearview camera and park sensors ($495), Mopar vehicle tracking ($540) and UConnect Web ($635).

Safety equipment includes front, front-side, driver-knee and side-curtain airbags for all seats, tire-pressure monitors, electronic stability with trailer sway control, antilock brakes with brake assist and hill-start assist. The primary safety option is the rear camera/park sensors package.


ProMaster City is a sharp edged box with rounded nose, typical of vehicles where function drives design. Most cargo is angular so the working part is very close to box like, and taller than it is wide, while the front is designed for aerodynamics, visibility and serviced-ability.

The hood is low for a 6-foot-plus high vehicle, in profile appearing much like the steel-toe of a work boot. Painted bumpers of the SLT versions improve visual appeal considerably, while the standard pieces won’t show scuffs from close calls and errant delivery trolleys as easily.

At the back, offset 60/40 barn doors open easily with a vertical handle like the side doors. The wider door is driver side so there’s some cargo area access without standing toward traffic, and better access in tight confines. Vertical tail lights are located high where they are better protected from impact and provide good situational awareness.

15-promastercity-rearCargo vans come with closed panel doors but may be optioned with glass like the Wagons use. A rear wipe/wash/defrost package is optional and wipes the left window, defrosts both, and all doors open to 90 degrees, or by a simple manual release, to 180 degrees for walk-up loading from a platform. A rear camera and parking sensors enable you to back within millimeters of any wall or platform.

15-promastercity-profileFront windows begin low like the hood and taper up rearward, as does the character line that defines rear side door windows. Those doors are 26 inches wide and 46 inches high, allowing easy access to cargo or the three-person bench seat, and you can open them fully even if parked within a foot of an adjacent vehicle or wall. Doors slide rearward and use a positive latch stop so you must press a release button to close them; a steep hill or gently nudge will not accidentally close them. The step-in height is less than 19 inches, lower than many crossovers and SUVs.

Wagons have side windows with pop-out ventilation, and Cargo vans may be fitted with side door windows. All PM City are prepared for an optional roof rack, rated for 154-pound roof load.

Interior Features

15-promastercityProMaster City’s interior is simple, easy to operate and neither austere nor shows any signs of luxury. By intended mission, Wagon is nicer than Tradesman and SLT makes either more car-like.

Cloth seats are easy to slide in and out of, though we can’t speak to comfort if you empty the fuel tank in one trip. The driving position is more car-like than van, so you’ll feel more like you’re in a big Dodge Dart or Transit Connect than a Nissan NV200, Chevy City Express or the full-size Ram ProMaster. Legroom is good in both rows, although your correspondent’s 75-inch frame felt about the limit ahead of the Tradesman available cargo partition wall, and headroom exceeds anything except some other vans.

The Wagon’s 60/40-split rear bench is contoured as three equal seats, and with nearly five feet of hip room we’d have to consider it a strong contender if you deal with three child seats regularly. The seat is higher than the front affording rear passengers a better view than average, and it folds and tumbles forward to increase cargo area.

Cargo area on the Wagon is 45 inches long behind rear seats in use, nearly 69 if they’re tumbled forward, while width and height approximate four feet. The rear-door opening is more than four feet square, the load deck 21.5 inches so your big dogs will hop right in and capacity approaches 75 cubic feet. A Wagon can carry close to 1700 pounds, eclipsing most mid-size and some full-size wagons, crossovers and SUVs.

Although the ProMaster City is approximately the size of the long-wheelbase Transit Connect there is no third-row seat option at this time.

Tradesman cargo area is 131.7 cubic feet, the longest piece 87 inches long and height nearly 52 inches. A four-foot wide pallet will fit flat on the floor between the wheels, there are six D-ring tie-downs in the floor and a flush-fit non-slip vinyl mat is available, as are a variety of shelves, racks, and a driver compartment partition with or without a window. Tradesman can carry more than 1800 pounds of cargo, more than most half-ton pickup configurations.

A tilt/telescoping wheel eases gauge viewing, as do big digits in the trip computer display. Simple analog instruments include temperature and fuel, so if your hired driver runs out of gas it’s purely operator error.

Everything inside is easy to work, even in gloved hands, from integrated door handle/locks to climate and driving controls. You may need to remove gloves for some of the steering wheel buttons or the touchscreen, but the control layout here feels easier to operate than the competition. Storage bins are variously sized and placed for all the junk you have, door cupholders large enough for commercial-grade beverage containers.

There are only two obvious ergonomic nuisances. One is the mirror controls, primarily if more than one person drives it regularly: The standard manual remote means a reach across for the right side and forward for the left, and the power mirror switch is also a reach, so you can’t set either in your regular deriving position. The second is the overhead storage bin which has generous volume, because things may slide forward where you can’t see them, or to the other side. I quickly learned to make my last hard turn a right so my phone, wallet and so on slid back to the driver side.

Air conditioning, USB/auxiliary in ports and 12-volt outlets clearly labeled powered with the key on are standard. The optional touchscreen is quick and effective, and either ProMaster City can be equipped with navigation, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, vehicle tracking and UConnect Web access.

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.

15-promastercity-drivingWith 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.

Summary, Prices, Specs

15-promastercity-finalThe ProMaster City is a fully-viable option in the small van market. For commercial operators and owners it has the numbers and is relatively easy on the driver. As a Wagon it would work equally well as taxi or a much-roomier option for those crossover shoppers bent on function more than looking cool or having all-wheel drive.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Ram PMC Tradesman Cargo Van ($23,130), Tradesman SLT ($24,655), PMC Wagon ($24,130), Wagon SLT ($25,655)
Engines:178-hp 2.4-liter I4
Transmissions:9-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):front, front side and side curtain airbags for all seat rows, inflatable drive rknee bolster, tire-pressure monitors, electronic stability with trailer sway control, antilock brakes with brake assist, hill-start assist
Safety equipment (optional):rear park sensors, rearview camera
Basic warranty:3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in:Bursa, Turkey; Baltimore, Maryland
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Ram ProMaster City SLT Wagon ($25,655)
Standard equipment:cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power door locks and front windows, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver lumbar adjustment, body-color bumpers, 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40 split fold/tumble rear seat, rear and sliding door deep-tint glass, 60/40 rear doors, power heated folding outside mirrors, full wheel covers, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel, media hub with USB and auxiliary input and UConnect 5.0 touchscreen with Bluetooth
Options as tested (MSPR):UConnect 5.0 navigation ($860), fog lights and alloy wheels ($495), rear wipe/wash/defrost ($250), rearview camera ($495), popular equipment group ($495)
Destination charge:$995
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$28,245
Layout:front-wheel drive
Engine:2.4-liter SOHC 16-valve I4
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):178 @ 6400
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):174@ 3900
Transmission:9-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:21/29 mpg
Wheelbase:122.4 in.
Length/width/height:187.5/72.1/74.0 in.
Track, f/r:60.0/60.9 in.
Turning circle:42.0 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:46.0/54.1/40.8 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:44.0/59.2/38.1 in.
Cargo volume:74.2 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:N/A
Suspension, f:Independent, MacPherson strut, antiroll bar
Suspension, r:Independent, bi-link, coil springs, antiroll bar
Ground clearance:5.1 in.
Curb weigth:N/A
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/drum, ABS
Fuel capacity:16.0 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of April 10, 2015.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 866.726.4636 - www.ramtrucks.com

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