The Car Connection Ram ProMaster Overview
The Ram ProMaster is a family of large vans and chassis cabs designed for cargo-hauling, delivery duty, and other specialized commercial uses. The ProMaster competes both with traditional body-on-frame vans like the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, as well as the new Ford Transit, the Nissan NV and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
It’s not a completely new vehicle, rather the latest iteration of the Fiat Ducato, a commercial mainstay in Europe and a popular delivery and commercial vehicle worldwide. The ProMaster is built for the U.S. in Saltillo, Mexico, and it promises lower running costs and a lower up-front price than the Daimler-built Sprinter that Dodge sold for a few years, as well as the long-running Dodge Ram vans that preceded it.
MORE: Read our 2017 Ram ProMaster preview
Updates for 2017 are limited, although a radio is newly standard (but can be deleted for credit) and a wider axle is included on certain configurations.
According to Ram, the ProMaster’s front-wheel-drive layout affords more flexibility in configurations, allowing a lower load floor and a best-in-class step-in height and standard ceiling height—and the potential to be ‘up-fitted’ inside for the task, whether that might be contracting, plumbing, or special delivery purposes.
The 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is the especially smooth, refined pick, and it’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Those who plan to haul the heaviest loads or want to watch over running costs like a hawk might prefer the 3.0-liter ‘EcoDiesel’ turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engine, making 174 hp and 295 lb-ft and connected to an unusual but effective single-clutch automated manual gearbox that offers a special trailer-tow mode.
The Ram ProMaster has an exceptionally tall cargo area—up to 70 inches—with the door opening just as tall, for easy loading, and Ram says that the ProMaster’s step-in height, and the width between the wheel wells, is the best in this class. There are a dozen tie-downs on the floor as well as five on the floor, and the clamshell rear cargo door arrangement can open 260 degrees. Two different roof heights (91 or 101 inches) plus what Ram terms the most vertically oriented side walls among cargo vans—altogether add to that high level of configurability.
The ProMaster is offered in more than a dozen different configurations, with light-duty 1500 models and heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 modes. Across these, the set of safety features includes trailer sway control (with electronic stability control). There’s also an available rear backup camera and ParkSense rear park assist. Features are geared toward these vehicles’ commercial use, but a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface is included and both a navigation system is five-inch touch screen and dedicated data connection are available.