We have done a good bit of road tripping over the last year in several different vehicles. From tent camping in a Toyota Matrix, RVing in a 1976 Toyota Chinook, and stealth camping in a 1998 Toyota 4 Runner, we’ve gone as far north as Canada on the east coast and as far west as the San Juan Islands in Washington. For a multitude of reasons (the Matrix is impractical for living out of and the other two vehicles died roadside mid-journey) we have recently invested in a new adventure mobile. Below we explain why we chose the Ram ProMaster City for van life!
About the Ram ProMaster City
Make / Model
Ram ProMaster City Tradesman Cargo Van (For such a compact vehicle it’s got a whopper of a name!)
2.4 Liter Tigershark MultiAir 1-4 Engine
9 Speed 948TE FWD Automatic Transmission
Bright white exterior/black interior
What makes it a Cargo Van?
The Tradesman Cargo version is completely empty in behind the front seats. No carpet, headliner, interior panels, or seats. It’s designed for working out of it. You can install shelves and drawers for tools and equipment, etc. This version was exactly what we wanted because we plan to live out of it for several months at a time. The van also does not have any rear windows. As they are it makes stealth camping much much easier and we welcome the added privacy it will give us. If at some point we want more visibility we can easily replace any of the metal panels with tinted glass.
Pros of the Ram ProMaster City
It’s a blank canvas
The cargo area makes it perfect for outfitting for van camping. We will be able to cook, sleep, and work out of this van. Our Chinook was similar in size to the ProMaster. The Chinook beat out the ProMaster City in one area: the top of the vehicle raised up so you could stand up to full height. It’s nice to be able to fully stretch out your legs after driving for longer spells.
Good Gas Mileage
The 4 cylinder transmission gives us the best opportunity for efficient gas mileage. At 21mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, we get an average of 24 mpg. Both the Chinook and 4Runner were gas guzzlers. In the last 2 months we have driven over 6,000 miles, so fuel economy really makes a big difference on our overall expenses.
Shape and Size
The near vertical side walls in the cargo area of the van allow for more comfort. No more feeling cramped and squished getting in or out of bed. And goodbye to the permanent forward head tilt when leaning against the side while trying to read, write or type. At roughly 17 feet, the ProMaster City is easy to parallel park and also has no problem going in or out of parking garages. (We would like to NEVER repeat the time we came up out of an underground parking garage in NYC to hear the entire roof of the Chinook scraping the roof beam of the garage.)
Up until this point we have done the majority of our travel either in a vehicle older than ourselves or close enough to it. We have lost an entire week to sitting at different mechanics waiting for our old cars to get fixed. This lead to a significant amount of stress worrying that at any point we might become stranded or held up again. The unreliability of our adventure mobiles affected the confidence we felt in driving into remote areas to explore. Not to mention, our pocketbooks and our financial planning. We can’t wait to get back on the road feeling sure footed and backed by a hefty warranty.
Cons of the Ram ProMaster City
We can’t stand up all the way. At some point we may eventually upgrade to a vehicle that allows us to stand up all the way rather than stoop or crawl. Also it doesn’t have a bathroom or a sink. For now, we’re tickled pink with our new rig because it’s a huge upgrade from what we had previously been traveling in.
Recap: Why We Chose the Ram ProMaster City for Van Life
We have a full-on obsession with VW vans (and adventure-mobiles in general). Caroline even had a ‘67 split window bus for a few years that served her quite well. Though we didn’t even consider a newer VW for our next camper van, we were thrilled to find a small company to buy our camper kit from that feels like a Volkswagen! Ian of Wayfarer Vans – Plug N Play Camper Van Kits has come up with two different kits to turn your cargo van into a camper van. His kits work for the ProMaster City Cargo Tradesman and the Promaster Cargo Van High Roof.
Have you outfitted your van with one of these kits? If so, what did you think? We’d love to hear from you and are excited to hear what you’ll think about our van conversion!
Update: We took our cargo van and turned it into a camper van with the Wayfarer Vans Kit! Come and see?! Also, to see what we’re bringing on our trip, check out our Van Life Essentials.
** A special thank you to Erin’s Mom and Dad who helped us shop around for this van, find the perfect one for us and also get a great deal. We love you both so much!!! Thanks for all of your support in our adventures.