Archive for the ‘nissan nv200’ Tag

Driving the 2015 Ram Promaster, the city van with a plan

A new breed of vehicle is appearing on American roads, and, well, it’s surprisingly straightforward: it’s a minivan that’s an actual mini van. Not the Honda Odyssey or the Toyota Sienna or any of those other bloated family-haulers that may technically be “vans” but are hardly mini, but rather old-fashioned boxes on wheels—low on amenities, high on utility. And as we’ve come to find out, they’re not that bad to drive either.

That’s certainly the case with the 2015 Ram Promaster City, which joins the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200/Chevrolet City Express twins in the Tiny Van Tousle of 2015. Essentially a slightly warmed over Fiat Doblo utility van that’s sold overseas, the Promaster City arrives in Ram dealerships now, both in cargo and five-passenger form, and we recently got our first chance to drive it on a media program in Austin, Texas.

2015 Ram ProMaster City Wagon SLT

Texas is a curious place to launch a “city” van, since practically nowhere in this great Union of ours do trucks and vans have as much room to grow to full size, like goldfish in an Olympic-size carp pool. The congested avenues and narrow alleys of New York City might have been a more obvious place to launch the Promaster City, but the appeal of small utility vans is not just about being the right size for their environment; it’s about possessing the right qualities. And the Promaster City has a lot of right qualities.

It starts with being eminently easy to drive. From behind the wheel, the Promaster City’s car-like driving position and surprisingly stylish, ergonomically sound dashboard are more like those of a tall station wagon than a cargo van. Particular helpful if the van is to be piloted by many different drivers is its uncomplicated Uconnect infotainment system with available touchscreen and wifi, which requires little or no learning curve to master, unlike the fussy Sync system in the Transit Connect. Large glass back windows on models so equipped (including all five-passenger versions, which also come with windows in the sliding door) dwarf the tiny airplane-size back windows in the NV200/City Express, blessing the Promaster City with a great view out back when it’s not loaded with stuff. And highly recommended on models with paneled windows is are bumper-saving rear backup camera and parking sensors.

The Promaster City’s front seats seem comfortable enough for long-distance drives and are covered in fabric that could handle a plumber’s wrath after Taco Tuesday. The 60/40 split fold-and-tumble rear seats in passenger models, however, are about as cushy as a park bench and have no armrests to speak of (those are highly underappreciated, as it turns out) and hence should be used infrequently and for short trips only.

2015 Ram ProMaster City Tradesman SLT

As a compact van weighing about 3,600 lbs., the Promaster City is also is fully competent with just four cylinders underhood, even on Austin’s hilly roads. The 2.4-liter “Tigershark” inline-four’s 178 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque make it the most powerful mill in the segment, while a nine-speed automatic with manual shift control manages the shifting. Thus endowed, the Promaster City is no speed demon at full tilt, but nor should drivers be allowed to blame any late deliveries on their van being too slow. And just as important to the boss is the Promaster City’s impressive 21/29 mpg city/highway fuel economy, which exactly matches the long-wheelbase Transit Connect.

The Promaster City is also spectacularly maneuverable, boasting a turning circle that, at just 32 feet, is three feet tighter than a Mini Cooper’s. The steering wheel turns 2.9 times lock-to-lock, which may not seem too remarkable compared to regular cars, but if you’ve piloted a full-size van before, it’s a revelation. Even better, there’s no perceptible on-center dead spot at speed, just crisp, linear response. Ride quality, meanwhile, is downright heroic thanks to a fully independent rear suspension (the NV200/City Express have bumpy rear leaf springs and the Transit Connect has a twist beam rear axle), so if you’re in the business of transporting delicate items like wedding cakes or antiques, this should top your shopping list.

2015 Ram ProMaster City SLT interior

However small it drives, the Promaster City can carry a lot. Size wise, it’s very close to the NV200/City Express and the long-wheelbase Transit Connect, yet it manages to squeak more cubic feet into the cargo area: 131.7 cubes on cargo models versus 128.6 for the Ford and 122.7 for the Nissan/Chevy twins. The roof height is a tall 51.8 inches, and as with its competitors, the Promaster City’s rear doors open on double hinges for nearly 180 degrees of total swing, which makes loading wide and bulky items a cinch.

The Promaster City cargo model comes with a fully lined floor that is flat and expansive, measuring 87.2 inches from the seatbacks to the rear doors, 60.4 inches between the walls and 48.4 inches between the wheelwells, allowing a forklift to drop in a conventional pallet full of cargo. Up to 1883 pounds of payload can be loaded inside, then secured with its six standard D-rings (four on passenger models). So you don’t have to look it up, that’s 173 pounds more than the Transit Connect and 383 pounds more than the NV200/City Express. Max towing is 2,000 pounds, exactly matching the Ford.

Of course, most Promaster City buyers won’t leave their vans just as they came, so Mopar and other upfitters are at the ready to supply partitions, shelving units, and roof racks. The Promaster City also has a huge shelf above the front seats as well as a large open shelf in the passenger-side dash.

Prices for the Promaster City cargo model start at $24,125 and $25,125 for the passenger version. The SLT trim adds power mirrors, body-color bumpers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment, and cruise control to both, for an additional $1,525.

For many van customers, having a reasonable amount of well-organized space is more appealing than sheer immensity, and the Promaster City will fit that bill, especially if they plan to put their van in a garage or have limited operating budgets. The fact that it drives so well is icing on the cake.

Read more at: https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/driving-the-2015-ram-promaster–the-city-van-with-a-plan-171532833.html

Ram ProMaster City: First Drive of the Small Commercial Van

The ProMaster City is derived from the Fiat Doblò, but it isn’t just a clone of the Fiat. Different powertrains and suspension changes are among the modifications made to adapt the small van to the preferences and needs of North American buyers. At a recent event in Texas, Bob Hegbloom, Ram CEO, Joe Benson, head of Ram Commercial, and Mike Cairns, Ram Chief Engineer, presented some of the differences and were on hand to answer questions.

First, contrary to what we have seen, the ProMaster City will have the new styling recently unveiled for the Doblò. This improves the appearance, especially from the front.

As Allpar has reported previously, the ProMaster City is not a direct competitor to the Nissan NV200, base-model Ford Transit Connect, or the Chevrolet City Express (which is just an NV200 with a higher price tag). It also doesn’t compete with the base Ford Transit Connect. Based on size, capacity, and capability, the ProMaster’s direct competition is the long wheelbase version of the Transit Connect, which retails for almost the same amount as the ProMaster City.

The ProMaster City has best-in-class cargo capability with a 1,883-pound maximum payload, a new 9-speed transmission, and best-in-class horsepower and torque. It can tow up to 2,000 pounds. It also has a bi-link coil rear suspension, giving the ProMaster City the only true independent rear in its class.

All of these add up to a pretty nice little van.

The ProMaster City is sold in both cargo and passenger (wagon) forms; Nissan and Chevy don’t have a passenger configuration, although Nissan does have a special taxi version. The Transit Connect is available in both van and wagon styles, but there’s a big difference: Ford is marketing the wagon as a family passenger vehicle, a mini-minivan that Ford calls a crossover to avoid the minivan stigma. The ProMaster City passenger van is not marketed to minivan customers, but is intended for commercial use as a shuttle or crew vehicle.

Early the following morning, it was time to take the ProMaster City out for a spin. Ram had provided both cargo and passenger versions and Allpar got a little red wagon to play with.
Starting at the W Hotel in downtown Austin, we went out into the morning commuter traffic and immediately got a lot more experience than we wanted in driving the ProMaster in stop-and-go traffic. The small size and nimble handling were a real benefit when it came to changing lanes and the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and 9-speed transmission worked well together, providing ample power to adjust to traffic and take advantage of opportunities to get around bottlenecks, something that’s important to van drivers with schedules to keep and deliveries to make – and I speak from experience.

Our route took us over city streets, suburban boulevards, county roads and even highways. The ProMaster City was comfortable and easy to drive the entire way.

At one point on our route, I was stopped next to a couple of fellow auto writers in another ProMaster City, and the passenger rolled down his window and challenged me to beat them to the next traffic light. Putting the shifter into manual mode, I am happy to say I shut them down.

The ProMaster City doesn’t provide the press-your-back-into-the-seat acceleration of a Challenger, or even a properly equipped Dart, but it does get up and go. I can think of a couple of medical labs and at least one blood bank that would appreciate that.

The rear suspension is a treat. Unloaded vans have light rear ends and they do tend to hop on poor pavement, but the ProMaster City was surefooted, even on a gravel road.
A couple of the vans had 600-pound payloads on pallets in the back, and they were also well controlled and responsive. I took one of those through an obstacle course set up at our destination, the Troublemaker Studios in East Austin.

Cab comfort and convenience are important to a driver who might spend hours each day behind the wheel, and the ProMaster City doesn’t disappoint.

Entry and exit from the cabin is easy and effortless: no climbing involved. The seat is comfortable and the controls are intelligently laid out. There are also plenty of spaces for paperwork and small items that might be needed during the day.

As commercial vehicles, both the ProMaster City van and wagon aren’t long on frills; their target market doesn’t want them and isn’t going to pay for them. But the basics are covered: A/C is standard, the front seats have adjustable backs, the steering wheel is adjustable, and there’s an AM/FM radio. Uconnect (cellphone control) is an option, as is cruise control, though there’s really no reason for standard cruise control on this type of vehicle; the driver would almost never use it. One option that might get some traction is a rearview camera, but the mirrors on the ProMaster City do a pretty good job in aiding backing up the van.

The one area that may be an issue is the rear seating in the wagon: Unless the driver is fairly short, rear seat passengers are going to be a bit cramped and the seat back angle isn’t quite as comfortable as it should be. The seat really needs to be about three inches farther back if a driver wants his passengers to think kindly of him at the end of the trip.

According to Ram, the seat positioning enables the ProMaster City wagon to offer gobs of luggage, tool or cargo space, but the small amount of additional room a more comfortable rear seat would require wouldn’t have that much impact on the load space.

It’s my belief that no Chrysler (FCA US LLC) vehicle should ever be released unless Klaus Busse can sit comfortably in the back seat. At 6’7”, Busse is the ideal template for passenger space.

As mentioned earlier, Ram had set up an obstacle course at Troublemaker Studios. There were tight curves, a skid pad and other challenges. The ProMaster City had no trouble with any of these, including a panic stop on the skid pad.

Sales of small commercial vans are a niche. Through the end of November, total sales within the segment came to 50,071, with the well-established Ford Transit Connect taking the lion’s share of the action. It remains to be seen whether strong entries like the ProMaster City can grow the market by persuading van buyers to downsize, especially at today’s gas prices.

Ram has done its homework. The ProMaster City is a very good base and Ram has been working with aftermarket suppliers to develop commercial interiors with shelves, bins and other vocational necessities for a variety of applications.

After all was said and done, our day with the Ram ProMaster City was a day well spent with a dandy little van.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/reviews/15/pre-pmc.html