The Ford Transit Connect is poised to be the goto commercial van for trades people and delivery companies everywhere. Available in three roof heights and unlimited upfitting available, it's definitely going to be a useful option to the pricey Sprinter. Ford doesn't have the entire market however, Chrysler has their own small commercial van about to rollout and give the Ford a run for their money. Early next year, the 2015 Ram ProMaster City will arrive on the lots of Chrysler Group dealers.
It will be available with two seating plans, a five-seater passenger van called the Wagon and a two-seat cargo version named Tradesman. A total of eight configurations are available: Tradesman Cargo with security panels, Tradesman Cargo with rear windows, Tradesman Cargo with rear and side windows, Tradesman SLT Cargo with security panels, Tradesman SLT Cargo with rear windows, Tradesman SLT Cargo with rear and side windows, Wagon with rear and side windows, and Wagon SLT with rear and side windows.
Inside, cloth seats are available in black or grey. Gadget-wise, it's loaded up with a Uconnect infotainment system that includes nav, satellite radio, bluetooth, a backup camera and a 5-inch display screen. Storage bins have been added to the dash, for things like paperwork.
There is enough space between the wheel wells to accommodate a pallet or 4-foot sheets of building materials. Above the wheel wells, that space widens to more than 60 inches. Walls are nearly vertical and about 52 inches high, so that storage racks can be affixed. There are also six tie-down clips recessed in the floor for load securing. Length-wise, there is more than 7 feet of room from the rear doors to the back of the front seats, in the cargo version of this van. Total cargo capacity has been measured at 131.7 cubic feet and the ProMaster City can handle a payload of up to 1,833 pounds.
On the van's exterior, the headlamps and taillights sit high, to avoid damage. Thanks to large wraparound bumpers in the front and back, low speed bumps can be absorbed with minimal damage. Loading and unloading will be easy, thanks to the 60/40 split rear doors.
Under the ProMaster City's hood is a 2.4-litre inline four cylinder engine mated to a nine-speed transmission. If these sound familiar, they are the same pair found in the new Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200. A coil-link rear suspension improves driving dynamics better than less expensive leaf springs.
The 2015 Ram ProMaster City is based on the Fiat Doblo, but designed for the North American market. There are at least 1.3 million Doblos on the road around the world, so it has already proven itself elsewhere. In fact, it has twice been voted the International Van of the Year. The ProMaster City will be built in Turkey. Sorry, no pricing, curb weight or fuel economy numbers have been announced yet.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca