Compact passenger and commercial vans have long been popular in Europe, particularly for businesses needing vehicles that can operate in tight, urban settings. Now these petite-sized vans are becoming more popular in the United States, too. A representative model is the 2017 Ram ProMaster City. With its European heritage (it's related to Europe's Fiat Doblò), the ProMaster City will appeal to companies interested in a more maneuverable and fuel-efficient light-duty hauler than the typical full-size van.
Ram offers the 2017 ProMaster City as both a two-passenger cargo van and a five-passenger "wagon." Although you can't stand upright inside this van as you can in the full-size ProMaster van (reviewed separately), its interior is spacious, and maximum cargo volume is larger than in most competitors. The ProMaster City's payload rating of nearly 1,900 pounds also surpasses most rivals.
All ProMaster City versions come with a 178-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, a much larger engine than its Fiat counterpart. Acceleration is quite respectable for this class, as is fuel economy. On the move, the ProMaster City rides well enough for a commercial van, but its tall, narrow profile doesn't do its handling grip around turns any favors. This is one reason we don't consider the ProMaster City Wagon a great alternative to a five-passenger crossover SUV. A noisy cabin and limited safety features are other reasons.
For passenger van duty, the similarly priced Ford Transit Connect is a better option. It has lower payload limits but comes in two different wheelbase lengths. The passenger version also has additional amenities, including seven-passenger seating and leather upholstery. You might want to check out the Mercedes-Benz Metris, too. It's more of a midsize van and costs more, but you also get quite a bit more space and capability, including a 2,500-pound payload rating. At the other end of the range, you'll find the Nissan NV200 and Chevrolet City Express. These mechanically similar vans can't haul as much as the others, but if you don't carry heavy loads, it's hard to beat their rock-bottom pricing.
Overall, though, the ProMaster City makes a lot of sense if you need an affordable and capable cargo van for your business or organization.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Ram ProMaster City includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, hill start assist, trailer sway control and rollover mitigation. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are optional. Tech-based driver aids, such as blind-spot monitoring, aren't available, however.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Ram ProMaster City comes in Cargo and Wagon versions. With just two front seats, the Cargo van is made for hauling. The Wagon has a backseat and can carry five passengers. Each body style can offers two trim levels: Tradesman and Tradesman SLT for the Cargo van and base and SLT for the Wagon.
Standard equipment on the Tradesman and base vans includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, power front windows, cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a front overhead storage bin, a 60/40-split folding rear seat (Wagon only), Bluetooth, and a four-speaker stereo with a USB port.
For the SLT trim levels, all of the above equipment comes standard along with body-color mirrors and bumpers, power-adjustable, heated mirrors, privacy glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver lumbar adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded cloth upholstery, cruise control and a Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen interface.
Available option packages include the Popular Entertainment group (second-row power windows, a six-speaker stereo, heated front seats), the Rear Back-Up Camera group (rear parking sensors and a rearview camera), the Lights and Wheels group (16-inch alloy wheels and foglights) and a tow package with a Class III hitch.
Other ProMaster City options include roof rails, cargo partitions for the Cargo van, a rear window defroster and wiper/washer, remote start, a navigation system (in combination with the 5-inch touchscreen), a Wi-Fi hot spot and satellite radio.
The 2017 Ram ProMaster City is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 178 hp and 174 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. The ProMaster's EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway).
Payload capacity is rated at 1,883 pounds, tops among smaller commercial vans. You'd have to size up to the Mercedes Metris to get a higher payload rating. Properly equipped, the ProMaster City can tow 2,000 pounds, the same as the Ford Transit Connect.
The 2017 Ram ProMaster City's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates enough power in normal driving, but attempting to quickly accelerate to highway speeds with a full load of cargo might be another matter. That's true for all vehicles in this class, though. The nine-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and keeps engine speeds low for maximum highway mpg, but it's also prone to clunky low-speed gear changes, such as when crawling in traffic.
With an independent multilink rear suspension and relatively low ride height, the ProMaster delivers a smooth ride and stable handling, but not the kind of agility you'd get in a crossover SUV. And as with most vans, the cabin is fairly noisy at speed. Keep these things in mind if you're considering the ProMaster City as a family hauler.
Typical of small commercial vans, the Ram ProMaster City has a simple interior that prioritizes function. There are plenty of storage slots and simple dial-and-button controls for common functions. The available Uconnect interface, a touchscreen system we like in other Fiat Chrysler vehicles for its crisp graphics and quick responses, is a boon for users who plan to spend several hours a day in the van.
The Cargo version of the ProMaster City has 131.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats. That's about 3 cubic feet more than the Transit Connect and 9 cubic feet more than the NV200. You'd have to size up to the Metris and its 186 cubic feet to get more. In five-passenger configuration, the ProMaster City has 74.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 101.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
A low cargo floor height and 48.4 inches between the wheelwells (enough to load a full-size pallet) offer exceptional versatility for delivery services and mobile workshops. The ProMaster City also features 60/40-split rear doors (the smaller of the two doors opens curbside). Both doors default to a 90-degree opening but can swing a full 180 degrees once you release a hinge latch.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.