The truck and utility vehicle segment, broadly defined, has gone through something of a renaissance over the last several years. Once a neglected backwater updated roughly once a decade, it's suddenly bursting with innovation in every shape, size and price point. The latest example is the 2015 Ram ProMaster City. Just a few years ago, the compact cargo van segment would have been considered a "white space" segment in the U.S. Ford was first out with the Transit Connect in 2009, followed more recently by the Nissan NV200, to which Ford has countered with a second-generation model. Now, there's a third competitor in the segment, not including the NV200-based Chevrolet City Express.

So what is the Ram ProMaster City exactly? Essentially, a Fiat Doblo heavily revised for the U.S. market. Whereas the majority of Doblo models sold in Europe are diesel-powered with manual transmissions, the U.S.-spec ProMaster city will come with one powertrain choice at launch: Chrysler's TigerShark 2.4L I-4 mated to the 948TE nine-speed automatic transmission. In this application, the engine is rated at 178 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, giving the ProMaster City a claimed 0-30 time of 3.7 seconds and 0-60 time of 9.8 seconds. The powertrain will be covered by a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

While the Doblo is offered in a dizzying array of different powertrains, wheelbases and heights in Europe, the U.S.-spec Ram ProMaster City will be offered in one roof height and one length, riding on a 122.4-inch wheelbase, offering a cargo volume of 131.7 cubic feet, barely besting the Transit Connect at 130.7, but offering a noteworthy advantage over the NV200's 122.7 cu. ft. max volume. Among its current compact cargo van competitors, the ProMaster City is unique in employing a fully independent rear suspension, compared to the Transit Connect’s torsion beam, and the NV200’s leaf spring designs.

Although the ProMaster City's footprint is pre-defined, that doesn't mean configuration options are limited. It will be offered in a full-cargo version with two seats, available with or without side windows, and also in a two-row, five-passenger "wagon" version that seems like it would make a good taxi, or a practical gear/family hauler for the active mom or dad. A three-row, seven passenger version will not be offered initially, with Chrysler happy to get you into one of its Town & Country or Grand Caravans instead.

As of now, it's unknown whether the ProMaster City will fully replace the Grand Caravan-based Ram C/V, with that van offering a slightly larger cargo volume, as well as being able to swallow a full 4'x8' sheet of plywood, compared to the ProMaster City's slightly short 87.2-inch maximum length. However, with Chrysler's announcement that the Grand Caravan will soon be discontinued with the Chrysler brand's Town & Country being the company's minivan standard-bearer, there's a good chance the ProMaster City will ultimately replace the Ram C/V sooner, if not later, with those needing greater capacity moved into a low-roof, short-wheelbase ProMaster. Interestingly, the ProMaster City's maximum payload rating of 1,883 pounds slightly surpasses the Ram C/V's rating of 1,800. Like the fullsize ProMaster, the ProMaster City offers dual swing-out rear doors with 90-or 180-degree swing-out angles, potentially allowing for forklift loading.

The one other thing the ProMaster City shares with its European cousin is its assembly line in Bursa, Turkey. To avoid the dreaded and dated "chicken tax," cargo models are modified on-the-dock in Baltimore, Maryland for commercial duty. Expect the ProMaster City to start rolling into U.S. dealerships in late calendar 2014, with larger-scale availability starting in the first quarter of 2015.


2015 Ram ProMaster City
BASE PRICE $22,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 2-5-pass, 4-door van
ENGINE 2.4L/178-hp/174-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 3,600 lb
WHEELBASE 122.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.6 x 72.1 x 74.0 in (est)
0-60 MPH 9.8 sec (mfr. claim)
PAYLOAD CAPACITY 1,883 lb (mfr. claim)
TOWING CAPACITY 2,000 lb (est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/30-24 mpg (est)
ON SALE IN U.S. 4th Quarter 2014/1st Quarter 2015