Ram Truck has introduced the Cargo Van, a vehicle based on the company's minivan platform, but modified to accommodate more payload. This isn't the first time the company has sold a cargo version of its minivans, but this new one serves a few specific purposes: It helps realign the cargo van with the redefined divisions within the company. Instead of having a cargo van in the now-car-only Dodge brand, the van is in the Ram Truck division, to put it with the work trucks. It also gives the division a competitor to the Ford Transit Connect, with a higher payload than that small van. And, because of the way Ram packaged it, this van is reasonably priced, to appeal to owners of small businesses.

Even though it's based on a minivan, it isn't just a Chrysler Town & Country with covered side windows (glass is available, too). The engineers aimed to make enough changes to appeal to people who need a vehicle with genuine payload capacity, without making the van overly expensive. In addition to the privacy panels, this van has an 1800-pound payload capacity, which is better than that of the Transit Connect, and it can tow 3600 pounds. It also has an impressive cargo volume: 144.4 cubic feet, the best in the small-van class. In back, the Cargo Van uses an aluminum load floor standard, with an optional floor that includes three storage bins and floor-mounted tie-downs. Also added to make the van cargo-ready are a heavy-duty radiator and transmission oil cooler.

We did a brief drive of the Cargo Van, and can see why this van would appeal to fleet buyers focused on value. With this van, you get something that has a low roof height, making any parking garage accessible; and there's nothing different about driving this from driving any other minivan, with the exception of the lack of a rearview mirror.

The most notable difference is the ride. Because it was beefed up to carry more payload, the ride is much firmer, but certainly not jarring. Basically, this is a minivan made for work, and pricing starts at less than $25,000.


2012 Ram Cargo Van
Base price $23,355
Layout Front engine, FWD, 2-pass, 4-door van
Engine 3.6L/283-hp/260-lb-ftDOHC V-6, 4 valves/cyl
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase 121.2 in
Length x width x height 202.8 x 78.7 x 69.0 in
Curb weight 4150 lb
GVWR 6050 lb
Payload capacity 1800 lb
Max towing capacity 3600 lb
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 17/25 mpg
On sale in U.S. Currently