What's New for 2012
Other than a branding and hence name change, the 2012 Ram C/V is unchanged.
For a generation, folks who needed a work van had essentially one type of vehicle choice -- a full-size American van. Sure, a few Japanese minivans arrived in the 1980s, but they typically only had four-cylinder engines and were very limited in their work capabilities. Then came some cargo van versions of American minivans, of which one now remains -- the 2012 Ram C/V (Cargo Van).
The Ram C/V is essentially last year's Dodge Grand Caravan C/V with a name change as it joins the former Dodge-branded pickups in the spin-off Ram brand. As such, it boasts a number of features that should appeal to anyone needing a cargo van with a willing work ethic. This also means it benefits from the big improvements made to the "DGC" last year, including the powerful new V6, a refined suspension and improved build quality.
The 2012 Ram C/V is obviously intended for commercial use and offers a number of practical features, such as a heavy-duty suspension, a choice of solid or windowed walls, an available flat load floor and built-in storage compartments. As far as its capabilities, this Class-1 (light commercial) rated van boasts 1,800-pound payload and 3,600-pound towing capacities. It also promises long range between fill-ups with its 20-gallon fuel tank and fuel economy of up to 25 mpg (highway).
Still, there are a few other choices. The Ford Transit Connect offers a smaller footprint and greater fuel economy, though it's only available with a four-cylinder engine and therefore best suited for lighter workloads. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter boasts a tall roof design, turbodiesel power and massive cargo-hauling potential, though its price is considerably higher. And of course there are the traditional V8-powered vans from Chevrolet, Ford and Nissan. That all said, the 2012 Ram C/V offers undeniable wide-ranging appeal for various types of small businesses.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Ram C/V is intended for commercial use and as such its features include 16-inch steel wheels, a suspension tuned for commercial use, dual sliding side doors, heated sideview mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, rubber floor coverings, cloth upholstery, power front windows and power locks, keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone air-conditioning and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
Available options include a choice of solid or windowed walls and rear liftgate, an engine block heater, a rear window defroster, a rear window wiper/washer, exterior vinyl window shading, a cargo divider, a sound system with digital music storage and 6.5-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, a back-up camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-way power driver seat, satellite radio, the Uconnect voice command system with Bluetooth, a USB port and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2012 Ram C/V models are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
In Edmunds testing, the Grand Caravan upon which the Ram C/V is based accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.3 seconds. Fuel economy ratings should mirror those of the similar Grand Caravan at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for the 2012 Ram C/V include active front head restraints, driver knee airbags, antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control. Optional features include a rearview camera and side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the similar Grand Caravan came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet -- an average distance for a minivan.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Ram C/V's interior represents a significant improvement over its predecessors. The new one-piece dash and center stack look less like they come from a delivery truck, and the overall workmanship also achieves a higher standard of quality.
A number of standard and optional features can tailor the Ram C/V to specific needs. A flat load floor is available, as are a choice of solid or windowed walls and rear liftgate. The Ram C/V's cargo capacity is rated as an impressive 144.4 cubic feet.
Last year's notable mechanical changes make the 2012 Ram C/V a pleasant van to drive. The V6 engine is strong. The six-speed automatic transmission does an admirable job of keeping power on tap, though gearchanges can occasionally be somewhat jarring. The steering is firmly weighted, and as expected (given its commercial leanings) the suspension -- and thus ride -- are on the firm side.