Ram has never been an automaker that prided itself on being the fanciest looking in the garage. As its name suggests, the automaker has preferred function over form since its split from Dodge.
With some help from Italian tag-team partner Fiat , Chrysler has come up with a full-sized cargo van that just about boasts of every class-leading category in the market. Or at least that’s what Chrysler claims.
Whether there’s validity to that really depends on what you’re looking for in a cargo van. Fortunately, we found enough things about the ProMaster that we actually like. So much so that we’re not going to brush aside Chrysler’s incessant promotion of it. Maybe they do make a point. Or maybe they’re just drumming up the hype machine.
Either way, the 2014 ProMaster is here and by the looks of things, it’s here to stay.
Find out more about the 2014 Ram ProMaster after the jump
If you’re looking for a groundbreaking visual design on the Ram ProMaster, prepare to be disappointed. See, a cargo van like the ProMaster will never be appreciated for its design. Having said that, the look of the ProMaster is a welcome departure from the boxy old vans. That, in itself, is a design victory. The most noticeable thing about the van is the enormous wraparound bumper with the Ram logo prominently — if not looking out-of-place — displayed in the middle of the grille crosshairs.
Equally important is the construction of that front bumper, which comes in a three-piece styled modular design that cuts down repair costs should you get in a little fender bender.
The front-wheel arches are styled with the bumper, creating an illusion that makes the latter extend all the way past the wheels. Notice also the relative absence of windows on the cargo. That’s an intentional design that can be taken advantage of by businesses who’d want to post whatever signage, advertising, or graphics they’d like to promote.
Variety is also important to how the ProMaster can distinguish itself from its competitors. With a multitude of options and features available, including two roof heights, three wheelbases, and four body lengths, customers can choose from a wide range of configurations for the ProMaster, all 13 of which you can see below:
- ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 118- inch wheelbase low roof
- ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase low roof
- ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
- ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
- ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
- ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
- ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof extended body
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 136-inch wheelbase
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase extended body
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 136-inch wheelbase
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase
- ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase extended frame
With what it claims as best-in-class payload capacity of up to 5,145 pounds and a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,100 pounds, matched with a gross combined weight of 11,500 pounds for the 3.6-liter V6 and 12,500 pounds for the 3.0-liter four-cylinder EcoDiesel, the Ram ProMaster has high hopes of becoming what the rest of the competition can only claim to being: the best in its class.
"The functional and innovative features of the ProMaster owes itself to its European doppelgänger, the Fiat Ducato".
As a commercial vehicle whose primary purpose is to transport a huge amount of goods from one place to another, the cabin of the ProMaster is devoid of anything that can be deemed a luxurious amenity. As well it should, because very few people will drive something like this with a joyride in mind.
The functional and innovative features of the ProMaster owe themselves to its European doppelgänger, the Fiat Ducato. Ram did make some alterations to ensure that overall function is put under premium importance. That was no more evident than the rear cabin, which has been fitted with up to 17 tie-down rings with 1,000-pound rating that fold away, ensuring that the floor remains flat so loading and unloading is easier and that all the cargo you’re bringing remains held down on the floor without risk of toppling over and making a big mess of your cargo.
Roof height is another source of pride for the ProMaster, which Ram claims as having the best in its class. The choice is 90" (229 cm) or 101" (257 cm), allowing for even a tall driver to be able to stand up inside the van without bumping his head.
One gas and one diesel; those are the choices you have if you’re fixing to get grimy with the Ram ProMaster.
The standard powertrain on the ProMaster is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, rated at an impressive 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This engine can be described as a coup for the ProMaster after having been named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines in the past three years.
Should you opt though for the diesel variant, Ram is offering the 3.0-liter in-line four-cylinder EcoDiesel engine - the first time this powertrain hits North America - that produces 174 horsepower, almost 100 less ponies than the V6 version, and a peak torque of 295 pound-feet. Despite possessing less power, the EcoDiesel variant does come with refinements of its own in the form of new internal engine components, turbo and emission controls. And besides, oil-change for the diesel is won’t be needed until around 18,500 miles as opposed to 10,000 miles for the V6. That’s a win for the EcoDiesel.
Transmission is also a matter of choice between the smooth-shifting 62TE automatic transmission that has been upgraded to accommodate the ProMaster’s weight ratings and the new M40 automated manual transmission that functions like an automatic, thanks in large part to an electro-hydraulic actuation system that handles the gear shifts and clutch functions. This transmission is also exclusive to the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel and a big component of why the ProMaster it stands alone in the Ram ProMaster’s competitive set.
As a carrier of heavy things, the ProMaster is capable of hauling up to 2,333 kg (5,145 lbs) with a maximum towing capacity of 2,313 kg (5,100 lbs) and a maximum roof load of 182 kg (400 lbs).
|Powertrain Options||3.6-liter Pentastar V6||3.0-liter inline four-cylinder EcoDiesel|
|Transmission||62TE Automatic||M40 Automated Manual|
RAM has yet to announce pricing for the 2014 ProMaster, but you can be sure that it’s going to be around the range of the prices of some of its competitors, including the Ford E-Series and the Chevrolet Express (somewhere between $26,000 - $30,000). Whatever the case may be, we’ll be sure to give you the numbers the soonest they become available.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has all the necessary tools and features that can supplant the ProMaster in its own game, including that ever important cargo volume with the Sprinter boasting of 547 cubic feet of space compared to the ProMaster’s 530 cubic feet.
Power though goes to the ProMaster, particularly if you opt for the 3.6-liter V6. The EcoDiesel is right around the Sprinter’s 3.0-liter V6 engine, which only nets 188 horsepower, compared to the ProMaster’s 174-horsepower 3.0-liter in-line-four EcoDiesel.
Ultimately, the choice between these two can be attributed as a toss-up. If you want one that offers more premium luxury to go with a higher price tag (around $36,000 - $45,000), then the choice is the German van. But if you want to spare a dime or two, then it’s the ProMaster.
Arguably the most powerful of all cargo vans, the Chevrolet Express is a double-edged sword of power and efficiency. Sure, it boasts an optional 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 310 horsepower but it also gets thirsty faster than most of its competitors with a fuel economy of 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway compared to the 20 mpg combined for the ProMaster. It’s cheaper than the Sprinter by a significant margin at $28,940, so you can take the good with the not-so with the Express.
Ram sure has a way of promoting the ProMaster. Not one to be shy about what it thinks of its products, the American automaker listed down some of the highlights of their new cargo van, including best-in-class standings in fuel economy, cargo capacity, payload, total cost of ownership, powertrain warranty (5 years/100,000 miles), turning radius, interior ceiling height and step-in height.
Given that they do have some backing to those claims, the ProMaster offer plenty of what you’re looking for in a cargo van. Whether you need cargo capacity, power, or fuel efficiency, the ProMaster has them in spades. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that relative to its segment, it’s got a pretty modern styling design to it, too.
- Impressive engine lineup
- Cargo capacity is one of the best
- Italian flavor on the design
- A number of worthy competitors
- Utilitarian emphasis
- No price yet
Gallery RAM ProMaster
The new 2014 Ram ProMaster is Ram Commercial’s latest addition to its popular vehicle lineup. ProMaster takes its place in the expanding, purpose-built, full-size van segment with a number of best-in-class features focused on the commercial customer. Coming from a strong background of commercial vehicles produced by Fiat Professional, the ProMaster is based on the Fiat Ducato, which has been in production for more than 30 years.
ProMaster boasts numerous best-in-class features that are appreciated by the hard-working customers of Ram’s new van. Best-in-class fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, usability and of course total cost of ownership all combine to deliver a proven solution for businesses and fleets.
“As Ram takes a larger presence in the commercial truck market, the 2014 Ram ProMaster is a great addition, contributing to a one-stop shop of commercial-duty Ram trucks and vans,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO — Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC. “The ProMaster answers to key segment demands with best-in-class features, quality, durability, capability and low total cost of ownership.”
Ram Truck is tapping into Fiat Professional, one of the largest producers of commercial vehicles in the entire world, offering more than 110 years of experience. That knowledge will help Ram Truck enter new segments and expand its product line. The new 2014 Ram ProMaster is based on the front-wheel-drive Fiat Ducato, which is the most popular full-size van in Europe. The 2013 Ram ProMaster is the Company’s first shared truck collaboration with Fiat Professional.
The Fiat Ducato is now in its third generation with more than 4.5 million sold worldwide. The Ducato platform offers Ram a proven, award-winning workhorse with an incredible combination of durability, value, efficiency, and capability like no other in its class. Additionally, the ProMaster is the only offering in its competitive set to provide both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory.
Engineered for the North American market
Conceived and developed in Italy, Ram’s new van also spent quality time proving itself on this side of the Atlantic undergoing extensive, extreme-duty testing to prepare for its North American debut as the Ram ProMaster. Engineering the new ProMaster for the Ram Truck brand required a number of changes for new capabilities, powertrains, environments, duty cycles and customers.
The 2014 ProMaster is available in two roof heights, three wheelbases, and four body lengths. Additionally, the ProMaster offers both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory. Its unibody frame architecture makes it significantly lighter than the competition. As a result, the ProMaster boasts an impressive best-in-class payload capacity up to 5,145 pounds and a maximum towing capacity up to 5,100 pounds. The gross combined weight rating (GCWR) for the 3.6-liter V-6 is 11,500 pounds and 12,500 pounds for the 3.0-liter I-4 EcoDiesel. A unibody structural has additional advantages, including stability and strength from front to rear, a reinforced plenum area for optimized engine packaging, and “truer” tuning of chassis systems and related hardware when compared to more common body-on-frame applications.
The unibody system under the cab is an enabler for the ProMaster’s segment exclusive front-wheel-drive system. The body-integral construction and multiple configurations allow Ram’s new 2014 ProMaster to be up-fitted for virtually every conceivable job. Without rear driveshafts or rear differentials, the proven drive system creates a number of advantages:
Best-in-class fuel economy
Best-in-class cargo capacity
Best-in-class step-in height and lowest load floor
Best-in-class ceiling height
Overall weight reduction and lower maintenance costs
Thanks to its unique front-drive system, body-integral construction and the multiple of configurations offered, Ram’s new 2014 ProMaster can be upfit for virtually every conceivable commercial need. Proportionally, the ProMaster brings a new standard to the large commercial van-based segment. The ProMaster is available in two roof heights, 90 or 101 inches with best-in-class standard roof height and the most vertically oriented side walls in the cargo van category (nearly 90 degrees in relation to the cargo compartment floor).
The ProMaster features a standard sliding door on the passenger side with an optional sliding door on the driver’s side. The sliding door openings are based on roof height – 49 inch x 60 inch for the low roof model and 49 inch x 70 inch for high roof models. In the rear, an available two-position rear clamshell door swings open up to 260-degrees, folding almost flat to the side of the van. All three door openings enable fork lift pallet loading and unloading, and spaciousness that leads the competitive set.
Ram Truck is well known for being the most upfitter-friendly brand in the truck market. The Ram ProMaster continues the tradition and features an integrated cab configuration for unmatched up-fitter/conversion solutions. Adding to the ProMaster’s design for adaptability, virtually all primary vehicle systems are packaged forward of the cargo area.
Electronic stability control
The standard electronic stability control (ESC) system on the new Ram ProMaster is a sophisticated four-channel (independent control to all four corners of the vehicle) active handling system that links the vehicle’s dynamic control systems to assist the driver in maintaining control under demanding or adverse conditions such as wet, snow-covered or icy roads, tight turns, and evasive maneuvers. In effect, the ESC determines the driver’s intentions and optimizes overall vehicle control to keep the dynamic forces within select limits in any driving situation – nearly transparent so control seems almost intuitive.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster van’s powertrain lineup features the award-winning standard-equipment, gasoline-fueled V-6 and a torque-laden, I-4 EcoDiesel engine. The engines are paired, respectively, with a proven six-speed automatic transmission and an electronically controlled six-speed automated manual.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster marks the North American introduction of the potent 174-horsepower 3.0-liter inline 4-cylinder EcoDiesel engine that generates peak torque of 295 lb.-ft. at just 1,400 rpm. The engine features a number of refinements, including internal engine components, turbo and emission controls. Helping to reduced total cost of ownership, an oil-level sensor contributes to an oil-change schedule of up to 18,500 miles.
The standard-equipment 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is rated at 280 horsepower with peak torque of 260 lb.-ft., the dual overhead cam, 24-valve Pentastar delivers the capability required of a commercial van without compromising refinement – hallmarks that have contributed to its ranking among Ward’s 10 Best Engines for three years running. Reducing vehicle operating costs was paramount in the minds of the powertrain engineers who contributed to Ram ProMaster’s development. Recommended oil-change intervals range up to 10,000 miles. But an intelligent oil-servicing system that monitors vehicle usage will trigger an alert when service is most appropriate.
The smooth-shifting 62TE automatic transmission is upgraded to accommodate the Ram ProMaster’s prodigious weight ratings. Specifically, its 3.86 final-drive ratio enables comfortable grade transit under full freight. The transmission more readily adopts the most appropriate ratio for a given driving situation. The numerically lower overall top gear ratio delivers a more economical highway operation.
The trailer/tow program comes standard with 62TE and the new M40 automated manual, which is not only exclusive to the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, it stands alone in the Ram ProMaster’s competitive set.
The unique M40 gearbox delivers the efficiency of a manual transmission with the functionality of an automatic. At its core, it is a manual, but gear shifts and clutch functions are accomplished with electro-hydraulic actuation system. However, the driver can opt for manual shift-lever inputs when desired. But the driver needn’t do all the work. Gearbox software delivers a unique response to driving conditions.
Shift logic is adjusted according to grade steepness. The result is a well-connected driving experience that delivers the fuel economy required of a commercial van such as the Ram ProMaster.
The Ram design team started with a functional exterior and interior, adding distinct Ram styling while adapting the new full-size van for North America.
The front of the new ProMaster is identified by visually durable bodylines, a broad wraparound bumper and twin-reflector headlamp clusters. True to the Ram Truck brand, the ProMaster leads with a bold, hexagon-shaped crosshair grille, featuring the Ram’s head logo proudly displayed as the focal point of the crosshair. The cab-forward, short dash to front axle design pushes the nose inward and the headlamps upward. This design provides higher passenger seating positions and better visibility – obviously important for commercial users – thanks to a more confident vantage point from which to operate the vehicle.
The front bumper is a three-piece styled modular design, resulting in reduced repair costs and downtime. Durable front-wheel arches are styled with the bumper to protect the doors. A unique step is designed into both front bumper corners, making it easy to clean the windscreen from either side.
The new full-size van features plenty of real estate on all four sides. This space allows for businesses to post signage and graphics, making the van a rolling billboard to help promote the owner, trade or vocation.
The functional and innovative features continue inside the Ram ProMaster. Although much was borrowed from the Fiat version, Ram designers made alterations for U.S. customers. Interior design and function is of primary importance for a light commercial vehicle in which the driver normally spends long hours at the wheel, often under demanding conditions. The cabin of the ProMaster was therefore designed with comfortable driving ergonomics, important because the ProMaster is a place of work.
Because goods always need to be transported in total safety, the new Ram ProMaster van is fitted with accommodations to hold down goods on the floor. Up to 17 tie-down rings with 1,000-lb. rating fold away to maintain a flat floor, easing loading and unloading operations. Available partitions also offer passengers excellent protection against the possibility of load shift the cabin.
Safety and security were two of the guiding principles followed by engineers throughout the development of the new 2014 Ram ProMaster van. Ram’s new full-size van offers more than 35 active and passive safety and security features. The ProMaster also includes standard ESC, hosting a number of technologies such as trailer-sway control. Security also means notification of the traffic around you. Ram ProMaster features ParkView backup camera and ParkSense with audible warning, all of which are useful when maneuvering a large van.
ProMaster customers can make the best use of their valuable time by leveraging Uconnect’s easy-to-learn, easy-to-use interface – acclaimed for its convenience and sensible design. Handsfree calling in the all-new 2014 Ram ProMaster is made convenient via reliable Bluetooth technology. Similarly, the truck’s handsfree text-reply feature enables customers to quickly deliver messages. A full-color, five-inch touchscreen is available with global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation, providing Ram ProMaster customers the ability to chart time-saving routes to their destinations. Uconnect Web, powered by Autonet Mobile, is available to U.S. customers. This system delivers continuous Internet connectivity, creating an efficient workspace and real-time information access on the go.
In total, the Ram ProMaster test fleet accumulated millions of miles enabling Ram and Fiat teams access to real-world data. This includes testing done in laboratories in Turin, Italy and Auburn Hills, Mich., at Fiat and Chrysler Group proving grounds, as well as reliability testing on public roads in many different climates in Europe and the United States.
The 3/36 Reliability Testing, appropriately named as each test car accumulates 36,000 miles (equivalent to three years of use) in about three months, is conducted day and night by teams of drivers. To reflect typical daily driver scenarios, the test drivers do not originate from the engineering ranks and are intentionally chosen from diverse backgrounds to represent customers of different ages, sizes and ethnicities. The test drivers scrutinize all the customer functional aspects of each vehicle as well as overall driving evaluations. This includes radio and navigation system checks, seat-belt buckling, heating and ventilation operation and opening and closing storage compartments and windows.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster offers 13 different configurations:
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 118- inch wheelbase low roof
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase low roof
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof extended body
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 136-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase extended body
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 136-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase extended frame
ProMaster competitors are: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, Ford Econoline, Chevrolet Express, GMC Savanna and Nissan NV Cargo.
Start of production for the 2014 Ram ProMaster is scheduled for third quarter of 2013. All configurations will be produced at the Saltillo Van Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico.