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2016_GCTA_GCJ.epsThe Ram ProMaster City compact commercial van and wagon, awarded Green Car Journal’s 2017 Commercial Green Car of the Year™ at the 2016 San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, is ideally-sized for city use where maneuverability and versatility are key. The ProMaster City’s strong suit is offering the hauling and commercial-use capabilities desired by tradesmen, small businesses, and fleets combined with 21 city and class-leading 28 highway mpg. Both van and wagon iterations are powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine with efficiency-enhancing Multiair technology. A nine-speed speed automatic transmission is standard.

Interior space, important in commercial vans, is quite generous considering this Ram's compact exterior dimensions that are in tune with intended use in urban traffic. The floor between rear wheel wells is 48.4 inches, which means the pallets often used in commercial operations can be accommodated. Interior width above the wheel wells is a generous 60.4 inches.

As part of a new marketing campaign for its full line of work trThe ProMaster City is equipped with two sliding side doors and rear 60/40 split doors that swing open to a maximum 180 degrees using a release button. The narrower rear door is positioned on the curb side, so curb access isn’t blocked when making deliveries. Access to the ProMaster City’s class-leading 131.7 cubic foot cargo area is simplified with the combination of these side and rear doors. Further functionality is provided with a payload capacity of 1,883 pounds and tow rating of 2,000 pounds.

ProMaster City’s Fiat-developed 2.4-liter Chrysler Tigershark four-cylinder is a rather sophisticated engine, at least by truck standards. Also used in other Chrysler products like the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, and Jeep Cherokee and Renegade, the engine features variable valve timing, variable valve lift technology, and a 10.0:1 compression ratio as well as Fiat's advanced Multiair technology. Chrysler is claiming a 0-30 mph time of 3.7 seconds, meaning more than adequate urban performance.

promaster-tigershark-engineDrivers are provided a standard Uconnect 3.0 AM/FM radio that includes a media hub with USB and an auxiliary input. An optional package adds Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM with a five-inch touchscreen display, GPS navigation, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. A Mopar Web Wi-Fi hotspot is optional to accommodate on-the-job connectivity.

Ram’s ProMaster City Tradesman Cargo Van starts at $23,495 with a multitude of work-related configurations available. The ProMaster City Wagon’s price of entry is an additional $1,000.

2015 Ram ProMaster City Tradesman

mercedes-benz-metris-exteriorThe new-for-the-U.S. midsize Mercedes-Benz Metris aims at filling business needs requiring something a bit smaller than the automaker’s popular Sprinter yet larger than a compact van. It's based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito model that’s been available in Europe and now mildly revised for American buyers. The Metris is definitely not a luxury vehicle, at least by Mercedes-Benz standards. Think of it as downsized version of the popular Sprinter van with the same rugged characteristics, but with a quieter and more compliant ride.

Mercedes-Benz is aiming at the very same need increasingly being fulfilled by an array of compact vans now on American highways – a more manageable physical footprint for business use in crowded urban areas, with the capability of meeting diverse cargo and people moving requirements. Plus, of course, there’s the imperative of accomplishing these goals in the most fuel-efficient way possible.

mercedes-benz-metris-doors-openThe Metris is fitted with two sliding side cargo doors and two traditional rear cargo doors. A passenger version with seating for up to eight is also offered. The cargo version can carry 186 cubic feet of cargo, has a 2,502 pound payload capacity, and can tow up to 4,960 pounds. It has a reasonable 38.7 foot turning diameter for in-town maneuverability and it can fit in a standard garage.

Power is supplied by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine offering 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque. It’s coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission with standard shift paddles. An ECO Start/Stop is optional. The Metris cargo van delivers an EPA estimated 21 city and 24 highway mpg with the passenger version offering a slight drop to 20/23 mpg. The passenger version does offer enhanced functionality since its seats are removable to make way for cargo-hauling duties as needed.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz MetrisCrosswind Assist, Attention Assist, and a load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program are standard on both cargo and passenger versions. The cargo version features six airbags while the passenger van features eight. A long list of advanced options is also available. These include convenience and safety features like Active Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, and Blind Spot Assist, plus parking sensors and a rearview camera.

At 29,945 the Metris cargo van is about $2,500 less than its base Sprinter counterpart, with the $33,495 Metris passenger version coming in about $7,000 fewer greenbacks than its larger sibling. All in all, the Metris presents a pretty compelling case for businesses that like the Sprinter but have wished for something a bit more compact.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van