8.01.2015

Beauty Is As Beauty Does: The 2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman
The 2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman.
European designs have never ruled American streets.  Not to say there aren't a healthy number of vehicles from the Eurozone sold in the USA every year, but they've never been dominant here. However, they are taking over one segment of the market...vans.




Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman
2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman.
The big American box on wheels is virtually extinct...being replaced by taller, skinnier European boxes on wheels.  And the newcomers come with smaller versions targeted at businesses with smaller payloads that until recently had to choose between a too-big fullsize van and a panel truck version of a passenger vehicle like the Dodge Caravan or Chevy HHR.

The looks of the Eurovans are an acquired taste, and I'm still in the acquisition process.  But there's no denying the utility they offer to someone who has things to carry and is looking for fuel economy and something easy to park and to drive on congested city streets. Small package delivery services, florists, caterers, bakeries, vending companies, musicians (solo or duo)...the list of likely customers for a small van like the Ram Promaster City Tradesman is a long one.  These could even function as a toy hauler for a motorcycle, a jet ski or a couple of mountain bikes.

2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman interior.
Of course, seating is limited to two...both up front, with a divider between you and your cargo. The accomodations are basic, but comfortable and the controls are very much like you would find in a contemporary compact sedan. That and the relatively low driving position make the Promaster City Tradesman feel easy to drive. A base price of $24,130 gets a very contemporary package, with a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder making 178 horsepower, mated to a nine-speed (yes, nine-speed) automatic transmission.  That combination results in some very good EPA fuel economy estimates---21 city/29 highway. You also get four-wheel anti-lock brakes, brake assist, hill-start assist, all-speed traction control, electronic roll mitigation, trailer sway damping, a heavy-duty suspension, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, an AM/FM radio with four speakers plus USB and auxilary inputs, a tilt/telescope steering column, power front windows and halogen headlamps.

Now...take $1,000 off that price.  That's right, just slice a grand right off the top. Because the $24,130 is for a version of the Promaster City Tradesman that has a 2nd row seat and windows in the side and rear doors---a passenger version (likely to be rare as hen's teeth.  There is one in the Bay Area press fleet...in fact, we were supposed to get it, but we were re-scheduled twice before this cargo version showed up in its place).   Choose cargo and the $1,000 savings comes from deleting the second-row side curtain airbags, the rear seats, the sliding doors with windows on both the right and left sides of the van, and the rear doors with glass, replacing them with windowless versions.

Cargo doors open on 2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman
2015 Ram Promaster City Tradesman.
The numbers commercial customers will most likely be interested in are capacity and payload.  Well, the Promaster City Tradesman has 131.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity and can carry 1,883 pounds.  It can also tow up to 2,000 additional pounds.

Our tester had options...the trailer towing group ($435), the rear back-up camera group (very helpful in a vehicle without a rear window or inside rear-view mirror ($495), the solid cargo partition ($305), speed control ($225) an upgraded UConnect infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen display and Bluetooth as well as steering wheel audio controls ($465) and a one-year subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio ($195).  With $995 destination charge, the bottom line came to $26,245.  

Sold as the Fiat Doblo in Europe, the Ram Promaster City Tradesman may also be the only vehicle assembled in Basra, Turkey ever to be offered for sale in America. That's just a fun fact to tuck away. The upshot is that the Promaster City tradesman asks an economical price for a well-equipped vehicle that promises economy of operation once on the street.

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