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Meghan Ingram
Automotive Editor - March 13, 2013


Based on Chrysler's traditional family van design, the RAM Cargo Tradesman is the minivan's brawny, business-minded cousin. An industry-leading vehicle with little close competition in its segment, the 2-seater Tradesman is only offered in one trim level, with the focus on providing just the essentials. The Tradesman has a basic selection of standard features and a handful of upgrade options, but these are secondary to its primary function: supplying plenty of load space and engine power.

Design highlights for the Tradesman include a 3.6-liter V6, front-wheel drive with 6-speed automatic transmission, commercial grade suspension, engine and oil cooler, and solid side panels instead of glass. The van's 144 cubic feet of rear cargo space can handle sheets of building material up to up to 4 feet wide and 8 feet long, and the van has a max towing capacity of 3600 pounds. Buyers seeking even more space can opt for three storage bins beneath the cargo floor.

Standard features for the Tradesman include 16-inch steel wheels with all-season tires, LED taillights, cruise control, keyless entry, and heated side mirrors. Comfort is provided in the form of cloth seats, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and dual-zone manual air conditioning. Since its primary function is as a work vehicle, that's about as posh as it gets inside the cabin.

Also standard are entertainment features like a stereo with CD and a MP3 jack; upgrading to the Unconnect/Hands-Free Group adds niceties such as a touchscreen Garmin navigation system, satellite radio and Bluetooth.

The Tradesman gets high marks for its efficiency, spaciousness and streamlined design. Less desirable are its poor rear visibility and stiff handling, though competitors such as the Ford Transit Connect and GMC Savana 1500 don't excel in those areas, either. Buyers looking for a sturdy van without any extra frills that can pull its own weight will most likely find a good fit in the Tradesman.

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