There isn't much choice left for car buyers looking for a small van or wagon. Kia's Rondo and the Mazda5 continue to cater to anti-SUV buyers looking for three rows of seating in a small vehicle, and the hybrid Ford C-Max trades a third row for a battery pack to power an electric motor.
But on the fringes of the small wagon/van segment are vehicles like the Ram Promaster City Wagon, a five-passenger vehicle that shares its shape and platform with a cargo van of the same name. Both models owe their origins to the Fiat Doblo, a vehicle that comes to North America as a Ram model thanks to the Chrysler's relationship with Fiat.
If you don't care to count the Rondo and Mazda5 into the same vehicle class as the Promaster City, then its only competitors are the Ford Transit Connect another European-designed small van also offered in cargo and passenger configurations.
Promaster City Wagon buyers don't get to make powertrain choices. Like the cargo variant (covered in a separate buyer's guide entry), the Wagon uses a 2.4L four-cylinder engine (178 hp/174 lb-ft of torque) mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive is the only layout available.
Even in the Wagon's passenger configuration, with windows all around, it still looks utilitarian with its slab-like sides and upright tail, all design cues intended to maximize interior space and practicality. Still, uplevel SLT trim gets body-colour side mirrors and front and rear fascias that help dress things up. To us, the Promaster City Wagon is most desirable for its combination of roomy seating for five with a heftier payload than you'll get in a Rondo or Mazda5, a trait owed to this van's origins as a commercial vehicle. We think one of these would be brilliant for a small family that really likes the outdoors and routinely hauls around a lot of camping gear and the like.
But what might scare some of those families away is a high staring price of $30,245 that doesn't even include something as commonplace as heated front seats. Meanwhile, for less than $30,000, a Kia Rondo gets a ventilated driver's seat, heated rear seats and front and rear parking proximity sensors.
The base model makes do with plain steel wheels (SLT gets plastic covers) and black exterior trim but there's air conditioning, two 12-volt power outlets, cloth seats and carpeted flooring, power windows and door locks, tilt-and-telescopic steering, four-speaker sound system, mini trip computer, keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring.
SLT's interior amenities include cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, Bluetooth, leather-trimmed steering wheel, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors and Uconnect infotainment with five-inch touchscreen.
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