Promaster City Tradesman SLT
Don’t Scoff At Bare Walls
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Don’t scoff because this is a neat little runabout that is just waiting for a trip to a customizing salon and a makeover.
The Promaster is the newest addition to the Ram commercial truck lineup with what its maker claims is best-in-class payload capacity, cargo area, performance and fuel economy. Behind the front row seats of the test van were plain white metal walls and don’t scoff at them either. With demand rising for those less than 300 square foot houses, these mini cargo vans just might take off.
Based on the European Fiat Doblo, a two time International Van of the Year winner, the Pro will also lure in small business owners who don’t need a traditional large van and want something that will maneuver around big city traffic and deliver good gas mileage. Don’t scoff at this end of the market either since analysts predict small cargo van sales will triple to around 120,000 by 2017.
To match just about every need, the van comes in eight different configurations. The test model was an SLT Cargo with no rear side windows but windows were included in the rear 60/40 split rear doors. Side windows can also be added.
Rivals are the Ford Transit Connect that really started this whole thing, Nissan NV 200, and Chevy City Express.
Providing the power was the well-known 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 with 178 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 174 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm tied to a 9 speed automatic tranny.
All this translates into a nimble little van with good low down grunt for in city operations where it is expected to spend most of its time. Due to its petite size, owners will be able to squeeze in and out of loading docks with ease.
On the interstate, there was some road noise as would be expected with the large open area to the rear. But the Tigershark had no problem keeping up with 70 mph traffic.
Ram cites a 0-30 time of 3.7 seconds and a 0-60 run of 9.8 seconds and it truly felt quicker. Of course, acceleration is not the reason one buys this van. (Wasn’t with the old VW van either.)
Excellent outside mirrors came with a wide angle glass that eliminated blind spots – downright handy on I-70 the other day.
EPA fuel estimates are 21/29/24 and I came away with 24 purring along on regular unleaded.
On more rural roads, the handling was better than expected and I was impressed with the solid build of this little rig. A nice assembly job at Turkey’s largest auto assembly plant.
Cargo volume works out to 131.7 cubic feet with a maximum payload of 1,883 pounds. The cargo area had lots of tie downs and was 60.4 inches wide and 87.2 inches long with 48.4 inches between the wheel wells and a wheelbase of 122.4 inches.
Promaster is backed by a five year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Up front was a jazzier dash than anticipated and cloth seats that were comfortable even with only one adjustment. The instrument panel had all the vital information one would need but illumination could have been brighter.
The Tom Tom navi system was just okay, housed in a too small 4 3/4 by 2 1/2 inch screen that make quick location checks rather difficult. Frankly one would be better off using a smart phone.
The test van carried an MSRP of $26,640 with left and right sliding doors, a trailer towing group with a max towing capacity of 2,000 lbs., and a backup camera, (an option I would highly recommend), among other goodies.
With arrangements available to meet the need of virtually any small business owner looking to move something smaller than dinosaurs, the Promaster certainly can fit the bill.
And somewhere out there in America, there has to be a custom house or two that will turn the rear into living quarters, flowers optional.
You know it just occurred to me that a millennial thinking about customizing this van, would now have to consult with his grandfather (!) about the VW van that he once owned, if he will talk about it.