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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.



2019 Ram ProMaster Review

The 2019 Ram ProMaster is utility without fuss, or anything else really.
The 2019 Ram ProMaster pares its available engine lineup down to one this year: a gas-powered V-6 that’s used throughout the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles family.

Less isn’t more here. The Ram ProMaster rates 3.0 on our overall scale because it was never going to do well. It’s not built like passenger cars, our rating scale was. 

The good news is that the ProMaster does what the label says: it’s big inside with plenty of room. A new grille this year doesn’t help much.

What’s in back matters most, and the van is available in tall and short roof configurations (or no roof at all in cutaway and chassis versions), with three wheelbase lengths. Upfitters should have a field day with the ProMaster’s blank canvas.

The only engine this year is a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 mated to a 6-speed automatic that shuttles power through the front wheels. It’s rated to tow up to 6,800 pounds when properly equipped. Last year’s diesel powertrain is gone—its finicky transmission mercifully relieved of duty, too.

One bright spot: The 2019 Ram ProMaster has a nimble turning radius that helps around town.

Predictably for a commercial vehicle, the ProMaster doesn’t offer many options. A tow-prep package or ambulance-prep package are most notable, although fleet telematics should be available later this year.

Ram offers a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty on the ProMaster.

No one is buying the 2019 Ram ProMaster for how it looks.
The 2019 Ram ProMaster subs in a corporate grille this year instead of an older crosshair design from the “Dodge” days.

It doesn’t help. The Ram ProMaster is awkward—even by slab-sided van standards. It gets a 1 on our style scale, our lowest score. 

Function inhibits form in the ProMaster and the low, awkward nose offers a good view out front. Ram says the flat face is cheap to fix and we believe them.

Inside, the van is a little better but not interesting.

Put simply, the way it looks doesn’t matter.

No cargo van will be exciting, but the 2019 ProMaster manages to be nimble.
For 2019, Ram shelved its slow-selling diesel powertrain for the Ram ProMaster. A gas-powered V-6, 6-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive is the only available powertrain.

It’s par for the course and the ProMaster’s tight turning radius is even better. We take one point back for a choppy ride and land at a 5 out of 10. 

The single powertrain on offer is Ram’s corporate 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque shifted through a standard 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. The combination is rated to tow up to 6,800 pounds. Ram says the V-6 can travel 10,000 miles between oil changes, which is important to fleet buyers.
The ProMaster is available in myriad configurations from upfitters and specialty operations, so painting a broad stroke is hard to do. The common thread? A relatively tight turning radius for most vans and willingness to shuttle around town. In its shortest form, it’ll loop around in just 36.3 feet; the longest versions up that by a still-impressive 10 feet to 46.8.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Ram ProMaster is infinitely configurable, depending on detail.
The 2019 Ram ProMaster is first and foremost a cargo van.

It excels at swallowing actual tons of gear—people are an afterthought. It was never going to do well on our comfort score, but we’ll indulge you with our math: Above an average score of 5, the ProMaster gets one point for its exceptional cargo capacity, but loses two for its ride and lack of comfort. It gets a 4.

Ram offers the van in three wheelbase configurations: 118, 136, or 159 inches; three roof heights: low, high, or none at all; and regular or extended body lengths. An impressively low cargo floor makes loading large, heavy items easy.

The front seats are comfortable and padded, but the upholstery material is somewhat thin and cheap feeling.

Ride quality is predictably bouncy without a full load aboard but settles once weight is planted above the rear axle.

Outward vision for the front is very good, typical for upright vans.

The 2019 Ram ProMaster lacks official safety data.
Major safety organizations skip crashing the Ram ProMaster so we skip scoring it.

The van is equipped with front- and side-impact airbags for driver and passenger, stability and traction control systems, and a rearview camera.

Fleet buyers can opt for telematics to track the van, and can limit its top speed.

Parking sensors are available (and highly recommended) for the big van.

Cargo vans live hard lives, so it’s no surprise that the 2019 Ram ProMaster is a no-frills machine.
Commercial vans like the 2019 Ram ProMaster look like the box they came in and are equipped similarly.

Base cargo vans are equipped with cloth seats, a 5.0-inch display for audio, and a rearview camera. What’s there is spartan and doesn’t do much anyway. We give it a 2 out of 10. 

Cargo van, chassis cab, and cutaway versions of the Ram ProMaster are available, depending on need. Vehicle telematics will be the only option that many fleet buyers consider, although there are a small handful of factory options available. Tow-prep, ambulance-prep, cargo shelves, and a locking glovebox are all optional extras.

Many Ram vans will leave the factory with few or none of these options, ready for upfitters to suit the commercial vehicles for their specific tasks.

Fuel Economy
Ram doesn’t report fuel economy for the big ProMaster so we can’t score it.
Big vans like the 2019 Ram ProMaster escape the EPA’s calculators, so we can’t assign it a score here.

This year only a 3.6-liter V-6 is available for the Ram ProMaster, which predictably returns varying fuel-economy returns based on configuration and load.


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