Friday, April 24, 2015

ProMaster City: a compact conveyance of convenience

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – I’ve always said that I will review anything, which mostly explains why a 2015 Ram ProMaster City wagon showed up at my door recently.

If that motor vehicle model doesn’t jump to mind right away, think florist shop delivery truck.

Coming off a week in a 2015 Dodge Challenger, the delivery of the ProMaster City was quite the leap.  Think parallel universe this time around.

And yet, for what it is, the ProMaster City is all good.

First off, it’s the all-new-for-2015 baby brother of the Ram ProMaster, a seriously larger van that gets a 3.6-liter V-6.  With that super-size ProMaster, you can carry your entire business around in the back end or pull it down the road (it has towing/hauling capacities exceeding 5,000 pounds).

The ProMaster City is the smaller, more practical offering, powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 178-horsepower engine.

Ram describes the ProMaster City as “all business.”  And that’s spot-on.

For small business operators and carriers of moderate quantities of cargo, the ProMaster City is a compact conveyance of convenience.

Double hinged doors open wide at the back to a generous, open cargo area in which I could darn near stand up, keeping in mind that I’m 6-4.  As luck would have it, I actually was transporting flowers during my test week, and a nearly five-foot-tall rosebush easily loaded into the back end with plenty of head clearance.

So, that empty back end must have translated to a lack of rear wheel grip on hard, fast corners, right?  Actually, not so much.  I could feel just the slightest touch of back wheel hop in these situations, but at no time did I feel that I was coming close to losing control of the vehicle.

The ProMaster City’s handling was, frankly, more in line with what I’ve experienced in some minivans.  Simply put, it handled just fine in my hands.

The tester started at $24,130, but my ride was dressed up with extras that included a 5-inch touchscreen display that incorporated the image from a rearview camera.  Bottom line on my ProMaster City was $27,590.  Controls were within easy reach from my cockpit seat.

Accelerations were not exactly brisk, but performance was fully in line with what I’d expect from a 178-horsepower four-banger.  In the never-ending pursuit of more gears, the 948TE FWD automatic gearbox had nine, count-’em, nine speeds.

Fuel mileage is a pretty good at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

One other thing I noticed: Door locks and seat belt warnings registered INSTANTLY in this ride, seemingly happening via some kind of unseen mental message sent by my brain.  Clever, those Ram engineers.

This is a solid “B” business vehicle, and seriously, not a bad ride as a secondary household errand runner.  If I ever go into business for myself, I must just get a fleet of a dozen.

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