THE 2012 RAM C/V REVIEW
Full Review by Andy: When Cool Meets Cargo
The 2012 Ram C/V is the coolest cargo van in America. Sold by a company that makes its living on masculinity, based on the biggest-and-baddest minivan in America, and competing against the vehicular equivalents of chess geeks and LARPers, the C/V epitomizes Ram’s rough-and-tough take on the commercial hauling business. But is it the best option out there?
Most commercial vans are as attractive as cardboard boxes. Their ungainly proportions cause pain to their owners, who hide behind the veil of “commercial necessity.” The Ram C/V gives small business owners a reason to smile. Equipped with Dodge’s – er, sorry, Ram’s – signature cross-point grille and bull-like proportions, the C/V has that quality elusive to cargo vans and minivans alike – charisma. The Ram comes with dual sliding doors, solid metal window panels, and a rear liftgate.
I could spend time concocting a clever sentence to begin this paragraph, but why waste the brain cells? What commercial owner gives two hoots about the difference between Streamline Moderne and the New International Style of design? The C/V offers a one-piece floating control cluster for easy use and access. It works and it doesn’t break, so what’s not to love?
Packin’ a Powertrain
Chrysler’s ubiquitous Pentastar V6 makes an expected appearance, cranking out 283 horsepower. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17/25 mpg, two mpg less than the Ford Transit Connect but far superior to full-size cargo vans. It can tow up to 3,600 pounds and boasts a category-exclusive 1,800-lb payload rating.
With almost 300 horsepower, the Ram Cargo Van hauls you-know-what to 60 mph in just over 8.5 seconds, a Ferrari-worthy split for a cargo van. As expected, the ride is firm – this is necessary so as the suspension can handle cargo – and the level of driving refinement, while better than a Smart Fortwo, is nothing to light fireworks over. The Ford Transit Connect is a better urban runabout, but business owners looking for agility and power only have one option, a la Ram.
The 2012 Ram C/V is equipped free of charge with four-wheel disc brakes, an array of airbags including driver knee airbags, and stability/traction control. A rearview camera and side-curtain airbags are optional. The similar passenger Dodge Grand Caravan won top scores in NHSTA crash tests.
Comfort & Cargo
Chrysler spokesmen say that the Ram Cargo Van was designed with small businessmen in mind. That’s a load of bunk. Based on the Dodge Grand Caravan, the minivan was originally built for hauling whining children and harried mothers. The C/V is Chrysler’s hasty cobble-job to herald the advent of Fiat vans to North American shores. But in the end, maybe that’s good: The C/V minivan offers many creature comforts often only seen on passenger vehicles.
The 2012 Ram C/V’s closest competitor is the Ford Transit Connect. How do the two stack up against each other?
Ram vs. Ford:
Payload: 1,800 vs. 1,600
Towing: 3,600 lbs vs. N/A
Cargo Capacity: 144.4 cf vs. 129.6 cf
Power: 283 hp vs. 136 hp
Fuel Economy (hwy): 25 mpg vs. 27 mpg
GCWR: 8,750 lbs vs. 5,005 lbs
Base MSRP: $22,420 vs. $22,035
More power, more capacity – why not purchase the C/V? In its favor, the Transit Connect does offer superior fuel economy. It also offers an optional second-row bench seat and a wide variety of commercially-oriented options, such as a fleet tracking system and an in-dash computer, which the C/V does not. Some question the long-term reliability of the DGC-based C/V as well. Nonetheless, for pure towing and hauling, the C/V is much better suited than the Transit Connect.
In base configuration, the Ram C/V comes with more creature comforts than its domestic rivals. Heated exterior mirrors, dual-zone climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise control, a two-speaker sound system, and the like are all standard. Most of its options concern comfort and convenience, such as the Uconnect infotainment system, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and navigation system. If you can do without Ford’s work-oriented options, the C/V may be a better alternative.
1. This year marks the first year the Ram C/V was not sold as a Dodge.
2. Unlike the Ford Transit Connect, the C/V’s aluminum load floor can hold 4×8 pieces of plywood in the boot.
3. A driver-selectable eco-mode maximizes fuel economy.
Cool meets cargo: the 2012 Ram Cargo minivan.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower & Torque: 283 hp @6,400 rpm, 260 lb-ft of torque @4,400 rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 17/25 mpg
Base MSRP: $22,420
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