Austin, TX – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) came to town to launch the all-new, 2015 Ram ProMaster City. It’s always nice to attend vehicle launches in Austin. As a local, chances are I won’t get lost on the ride-and-drive.
While it took a while to catch up to Ford, which introduced the Transit Connect in 2009, the compact commercial van market has taken off, gaining three new competitors in the past two years, including the ProMaster City.
New to the United States, it’s based on a tried and true platform for Fiat, the Doblò, which is sold worldwide. Considered one of the largest producers of commercial vehicles, Fiat Professional has more than 110 years of experience.
The ProMaster City reflects this history with innovations like 60/40 split rear doors. Rather than block the path to the curbside of the van, the larger door swings open toward the traffic (driver) side of the van, for easier access to larger cargo items. A low step-in height helps too.
Additionally, the ProMaster City includes a sliding door on each side that securely latches in the open position to prevent an accidental closure if the vehicle is parked on a slope.
The front-wheel-drive van handled nicely at the launch, on a course at the Troublemaker Studios lot owned by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and producer Elizabeth Avellan. I didn’t get a celebrity sighting but it was nice to eat lunch on the set of the TV series, From Dusk Till Dawn, and to check out the actual muscle car driven by actor Danny Trejo (the new spokesman for Dodge) in the movie, Machete, directed by Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis.
The van’s unibody design and bi-link rear suspension also improve the ride and handling.
Powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine and matched to an exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission, the van achieves an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 21/29 miles per gallon.
It has a payload of 1,883 pounds and the cargo volume adds up to 131.7 cubic feet of space. The cargo width and length of 60.4 inches and 87.2 inches, respectively, allow for good flexibility and configurability. The vertical side panels are upfitter-friendly and simplify the attachment of shelves or storage racks for specialized commercial use. Both cargo volume and payload are best in class.
If needed, a tow package is available giving the van a 2,000-lb. towing capability.
Like its competitors, the ProMaster City also comes in a version for families—a five-seat passenger wagon—as well as the two-seat Tradesman cargo van. Both include two trim levels, Tradesman and Tradesman SLT Cargo Van and Wagon and Wagon SLT, as well as eight different configurations.
On the wagon model, the three-passenger, second-row seating is split 60/40, with each section capable of folding and tumbling forward to expand cargo room.
Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist, trailer-sway damping, brake assist, all-speed traction control, remote keyless entry, a tire pressure monitor, and side curtain airbags makeup some of the standard safety features.
Pricing for the 2015 ProMaster City Tradesman starts at$24,125. Pricing for the wagon starts at $25,125.