MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF ACCOUNTANTS
Base price: $24,130 As tested: $27,945
They said they were giving me a Ram to test; I anticipated a mighty-mighty manly pickup. What was delivered was a panel truck slightly reminiscent of the short bus I took to school when I was a (hyperactive) kid.
“Why am I in this thing?” I kept asking myself as I rolled around town with no children to pick up or drop off, no construction job to stop at Home Depot for and no band to tour with. Eventually, it became “what I’m driving.”
Might as well call it what it is, folks. It’s not that much fun to drive, and believe me, I tried. But when you ask it to giddyap, you’re just as likely to get a “huh?” from the engine before the ride makes up its mind which of its 9 gears it really wants to choose, and once it does, it complains, loudly. “Ok, ok,” I said at one point, patting its dashboard. “No more steep hills.” You can’t see much of what’s behind you, its nav screen is dinky and the sliding doors are difficult to open and close.
On the plus side, a relatively long wheelbase of 122.4 inches gives you an even, smooth ride. It’s also not horrible-looking and easy to find in parking lots. It can carry almost a ton of cargo, tow about 2,000 pounds and it’s powered by a four-cylinder, 2.4 litre “Tigershark” engine making 178 horsepower at 6,400 RPM, with front-wheel drive. It gets somewhere between a not-bad 24 and 29 miles to the gallon. Its independent rear suspension makes it (a little) graceful.
It’s only got two rows of seating so you can’t buy it and use it as a taxi, if that’s your racket, unless whoever you’re picking up at the airport is a party of 3-4 or less. The dashboard design is festooned with plastique and its design is “straight to rental.”
Ok – we’ve pummeled the Promaster enough. Let us not lose sight of the miracle of engineering each internal combustion vehicle is; in 50 years or less, this ride may be in a museum. In fact, they should park it there now.