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Chrysler has sold 1995 Ram CV cargo vans through April
<p> Chrysler has sold 1,995 Ram C/V cargo vans through April.</p>

Ram C/V Ready for Rock’n’Road

A year ago this month, I wrote about Nissan’s new commercial vehicle, the NV, based on its ability to haul the colossal gear of a 7-piece rock band, Detroit’s own Exhaust Tones.

The segment for compact, fuel-efficient commercial vehicles is booming right now, and Chrysler has come to market with the Ram C/V cargo van, an enclosed minivan with a slanted stainless steel floor, plenty of comfort and loads of upscale content.

In fairness to Chrysler, it seemed necessary to put the Ram C/V through the paces as a band hauler during a recent gig.

The verdict: The NV, which shares its architecture with the Nissan Titan fullsize pickup, is significantly larger and can accommodate bigger drum kits and amps, especially with the optional high roof.

But the unibody Ram C/V handles better, consumes less fuel and would look mighty cool painted black, with band graphics in place of the rear windows. Two sliding doors and a liftgate make loading in and out a snap.

Plus, our well-equipped Ram C/V, which included power seats, a navigation system and 6.5-in. (16.5-cm) touch screen, stickered for $26,680, a discount of more than $6,000 compared with the NV we drove last year.

The C/V’s price also included a $1,390 media center with a 40GB hard drive, which should accommodate just about any audiophile’s rock anthology.

The passenger compartment is extremely comfortable and ergonomic, borrowing directly from appointments in Chrysler’s best-selling minivans. The Ram C/V comes from the same Windsor, ON, Canada, plant that assembles the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.

Even though this is a cargo van, the black-and-tan interior is unusually plush, with soft armrests and even gray-shaded faux wood trim on the instrument panel.

The driver’s power seat moves eight ways and offers lumbar adjustment, which is important for long road trips.

Power comes from Chrysler’s excellent 3.6L Pentastar V-6, which has earned Ward’s 10 Best Engineshonors the past two years. Wholly capable, this modern V-6 is ideally matched for the Ram C/V and can handle any load.

After a weekend, which included a gig not far from home, the Ram C/V’s trip computer suggested a fuel-economy rating of 21.5 mpg (10.9 L/100 km). Not shabby at all.

The Ford Transit Connect pioneered this new market for compact cargo vans, and we’re bound to see more of them as fuel-economy mandates loom. The cargo areas are similar in size between the Transit Connect and Ram C/V, but Ford’s entry has a taller roof, for tradesmen who want to climb in without crouching so much.

By the way, the Ram C/V will fit an 8-ft. (2.4-m) sheet of plywood, unless the Mopar cage divider is installed behind the seats.

Through April, Chrysler has notched 1,995 deliveries of Ram C/V, compared with 10,324 Transit Connects and 3,309 Nissan NVs, according to WardsAutodata.

A rock band shopping for new wheels certainly has many options these days. The bigger the band, the more the gear, which makes the Nissan NV awfully attractive.

But some bands would find the new Ram C/V the ideal vehicle for taking the show on the road.

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