First Drive: 2012 Ram Cargo Van

Ram Van: Making a Minivan Ready for Tough Tasks

Allyson Harwood
Mar 23, 2012
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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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