This Ram is a minivan with two seats and a flat load floor, plain and simple. It’s less expensive and comes with more standard equipment than Nissan’s NV 1500, but the Nissan has 89.7 more cubic feet of cargo capacity (standard roof models), and it’s better suited for more jobs. That said, the Ram did a great job hauling my 1975 Honda CB750 motorcycle. The rear opening is tight, but the big bike squeezed through and stood upright in the cargo hold. The Ram had good tie-down points in the rear but nothing up front to help keep the CB750 in place. Luckily, our tester had a $450 cargo divider that I used to strap down the motorcycle.
The added weight from the four-cylinder Honda seemed to have no effect on the van’s driving dynamics. The C/V feels exactly how you’d expect a stripped-out Grand Caravan to feel: nimble, planted, and agile (well, at least when you compare it the company it keeps). I’d cough up a little extra cash for a bigger and more useable van, but the Ram is a great alternative for those on a budget who spend weekends at garage sales. As long as they know they’ll look like Buffalo Bill for the rest of the week.
Christopher Nelson, Road Test Editor
The Ram C/V is a smart idea. There are plenty of individuals and businesses who don’t need a body-on-frame, V-8-powered cargo van. Ford has already carved itself a healthy niche with the Transit Connect. The C/V offers the same benefits — good fuel economy, city-friendly maneuverability — but drives a whole lot better on the highway, thanks to its V-6 power. These advantages are even more apparent compared with a traditional cargo van. As Chris notes, the C/V, in all its minivan glory, pretty much feels like a Porsche compared with its body-on-frame competitors. Driving the C/V also serves as a reminder that Chrysler’s recently updated vans are pretty darn good — nicely weighted steering, well tuned ride, refined and powerful V-6. The Uconnect infotainment system works very smoothly despite relying on a small touchscreen.
David Zenlea, Associate Editor
C/V is Ram-speak for “cargo van,” but let’s pretend it stands for curriculum vitae, and that vitae refers to the weekend I spent with Ram’s windowless Grand Caravan. Just what did I accomplish with the van? Quite a lot.
Friday, 3:45 PM: Jump behind the wheel to pick up a slightly used, 30-gallon air compressor I discovered on Craigslist. I’m surprised by what I see inside the C/V — this doesn’t feel like a stripped-out shell of a vehicle.
4:45 PM: Time to load the air compressor. No sweat, but once it’s in, I need to lash it down. As nice as this hefty aluminum load floor is, it lacks integral load tie-downs; in fact, the only two I spot are a pair of D-rings mounted where the third row’s three-point seatbelts normally would be anchored. I’d also love a good place to stash a box of air tools that came with the compressor. Mopar’s optional load floor — which incorporates Stow-N-Go-esque sub-floor cargo areas — would be perfect for this.
7:15 PM: Unload my new-old air compressor, and load the 25-gallon air compressor I’d previously borrowed from my father. Winter is coming, and he needs his machine back to blow water from his sprinkler lines before they freeze and rupture. The 70-mile trek back home involves lots of highway cruising, which the C/V excels at.
Saturday, 9:00 AM: I was supposed to help my friend fetch three — yes, three — Corvair turbo engines from a seller in Lansing, but no dice. Although he did win the auction, he opted to pick them up next weekend.
Sunday, 10:00 AM: A friend calls to see if I happen to have any firewood to spare. Lucky for him (and not so much for me), a 40-foot oak fell on my roof two months ago, leaving me with plenty of surplus timber to toss his way — or, rather, haul to his place in Royal Oak. I back the van alongside my house and into my backyard, threading it through a number of trees that would impede any larger vehicle. I’m glad that the $1395 navigation system came with a rear-view camera, especially since this C/V has no rear glass.
I throw a couple tarps down before I load the dismembered tree trunk into the C/V; despite this being a windowless cargo van, there are several surfaces in the hold that can easily be damaged by firewood. Unless you delete it, the C/V’s wheel wells are still covered in the same taupe-colored plastic panels used on passenger vans. And unless you want to pony up $325 for a rubber floor mat, that heavy-duty load floor — which is primarily clad in a chrome-like finish — can easily be scratched by anything that’s harder than a cardboard box.
3:00 PM: My docket is finally clear, and it’s time to clean up the Ram C/V. The rubberized flooring in the cockpit isn’t fancy, but it’s incredibly easy to clean, especially if you spill a drink or track mud in on your shoes. Given how often kids do both, it’d be nice if Dodge offered the same flooring in its passenger-spec Caravan as an option.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Unless we have plans to move a large object or relocate, vehicles like the Dodge C/V are a rare occurrence at the Automobile Magazine offices. On those occasions, I usually leave the heavy lifting to someone else, so I hadn’t had the pleasure of driving a cargo van. Until now.
Although I had nothing to move but myself, to and from work, I found the CV fairly comfortable for use as a people carrier. It lacks some features that we auto journalists take for granted, like heated seats and automatic climate control, but it does have plenty of other features that I was shocked to find on a $26,000 work van: an 8-way power driver’s seat that includes lumbar adjustment; a height-adjustable seat belt; heated exterior mirrors; a touch-screen display, and a back-up camera, among others. Then again, I certainly wouldn’t call the Ram C/V luxurious: most surfaces are covered in fairly cheap plastics, many of the controls appear to have been taken from a Dodge Caravan from several generation ago, and it creaks and rattles more than a traditional minivan.
Of the fairly comprehensive list of features, the back-up camera is likely the most important, as it’s pretty hard to see through the slabs of sheetmetal that are in place of the rear and side windows. (I still found it more than a bit scary backing out of a parking space as it remains extremely difficult to see traffic coming from either side.) The camera angle is a bit odd and the video it provides has a sort of fish-eye look to it, but it was adequate to see what was directly behind me before I starting reversing.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
2012 Ram C/V
MSRP (with destination): $23,255
PRICE AS TESTED: $26,680
3.6-liter DOHC V-6
Horsepower (hp): 283 @ 6400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 260 @ 4400 rpm
WHEELS AND TIRES:
16-inch aluminum wheels
225/65SR-16 Yokohama Avid C33 tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
Cargo: 144.4 cu ft
Legroom: 40.7 in
Headroom: 39.8 in
Towing: 3600 lb
Variable intermittent windshield wipers
Commercial wagon suspension
20-gallon fuel tank
Flat load floor
Front rubber floor covering
Power windows and locks
Dual-zone climate control
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Auxiliary audio jack
Instrument panel storage bin
Left rear quarter trim storage bin
Rear dome light
Dual glove boxes
Halogen quad headlights
Heated exterior mirrors
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Delete supplemental side-curtain airbags- $150
Customer Preferred package 29C- $690
Bluetooth and hands-free connectivity
Leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel
SiriusXM satellite radio w/one-year trial subscription
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Full-width cargo divider- $450
8-way power driver’s seat- $200
Security alarm- $195
Navigation w/40GB hard drive- $1390
6.5-inch touchscreen display
Real-time traffic updates w/one-year trial subscription
Uconnectfi Web by Moparfi- $650
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Uconnect 730N- $2055
Power equipment group- $175
Rear window- $590
Trailer tow group- $595
From Chrysler’s media site:
That and its lack of rear windows.