Van and fun to drive aren’t usually found in the same sentence, but that doesn’t mean utilitarian work vehicles all have to be boring. Many modern vans and trucks are built on car platforms, and while their greater height might keep them from being track stars, there is still the potential for an enjoyable experience behind the wheel.
With the Ram ProMaster City Cargo van, Dodge has delivered just that. So how does this modern-day bread truck deliver the goods for blue-collar drivers? That could have something to do with its European heritage.
A Van of a Different Stripe
Despite America’s love affair with the full-size pickup, our nation seems somewhat enamored with compact utility vehicles of late. As evidence of this, Ford has seen great success with its Transit Connect compact cargo van, and competitors Nissan and Chevy produce the NV200 and City Express, respectively.
Rather than use underpinnings from Dodge’s Ram line, the ProMaster City borrows its running gear from the Euro-market Fiat Doblo. This is a stark change compared to its Dodge Caravan-based predecessor, and while the Doblo is likely one of the bigger vehicles on the road in its country of origin, Italy, it fits in nicely on American pavement.
Tastefully Equipped … for a Van
When we say this van is enjoyable to drive, we mean it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to set any new lap records. The ProMaster City is enjoyable primarily because it is well thought out. It has good ergonomics, and features that make van life less monotonous, like standard Bluetooth and iPhone compatibility. Optional frills include a swanky 5-inch touch display and backup camera with parking sensors.
Motivating the ProMaster is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that offers up 178 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. That might sound pedestrian, but this small hauler hasn’t got anything like the heft of its Ram-derived big brothers to move around. A rather clever nine-speed automatic handles shifting procedures, and does a good job of zipping the van to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds.
Combine these factors with light, quick steering that helps you maneuver confidently in an urban setting, and you’ve got the right ingredients to get the job done even in congested areas. That, and the fact that the City Cargo’s rear compartment is nearly infinitely customizable to take on any job, make it one of the most practical things you can park in the company lot, or your garage for that matter.
The Bottom Line
This peppy little work van is a great selection for small-business owners and those who need a practical vehicle that’s still economical. It remains relatively fuel-efficient even when doing tough jobs, delivering up to 28 mpg. It’s good at sheltering drivers from what can be an otherwise punishing experience at the helm of a road-going storage bin.
It’s easy to see how owners will save money operating a van like this compared to its full-size cousins. Expect to see the ProMaster City Cargo and its kin doing jobs traditionally reserved for bigger vans in years to come. It’s the van of the future, baby.
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