First Look: 2014 Ram ProMaster Work Van

ProMaster Lead II

Expanding its commercial offerings, Ram truck introduced its 2014 ProMaster full-size commercial van at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show today. Based off Fiat's Ducato van that's been sold abroad for more than 30 years, the new-for-U.S. ProMaster will directly compete with the coming Ford Transit, the existing Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the new Nissan NV and the ubiquitous Ford Econoline van.

Both Ford and Ram are focusing on the full-size van segment, identifying a clear need for a more versatile commercial vehicle to serve the small- and midsize business community that hasn't had many choices in the past. With fuel prices climbing and cost of ownership becoming more critical for a company's economic survival, the timing could be perfect for the right-sized multidimensional solution.

This all-new ProMaster chassis is specifically designed to carry cargo as its first priority, so the heavily reinforced (in some cases with eight integrated cross-members) unibody chassis will have a low load floor to make loading easy. Additionally, the van will only be offered in front-wheel drive, so the absence of a rear differential and driveshaft allows for a flatter and more versatile (than a truck, anyway) platform.

Adding to its versatility, the ProMaster will have two different roof heights of 90 and 101 inches, a standard sliding door on the passenger side with an optional sliding side door on the driver's side. It will offer three wheelbase choices at 118, 136 and 159 inches, four different body lengths and three conventional gross vehicle weight name identifiers (1500, 2500 and 3500). To further allow the ProMaster to be customized, 3500 ProMaster vans can be ordered in Cargo Van, Chassis Cab and Chassis Cab Cutaway versions to service both the bus and recreational vehicle sectors.

 

Engineering

ProMaster ghost II

The chassis construction of the ProMaster van is a type of mixed technology, offering a maximum payload and towing capacity calculated to be more than 5,000 pounds for both. ProMasters will offer five separate, unique suspension levels that will provide a wide range of capabilities, but all will use front double-A-arm coil springs while the rear suspension incorporates a conventional beam axle and leaf-spring setup. Additionally, the rear doors are designed to open almost to 260 degrees, the largest opening in the segment, Ram says. Even the roof is strengthened for carrying loads with a rating of up to 400 pounds.

For a more detailed list and explanation of capabilities, click here.

 

Powertrain

ProMaster V-6 & susp II

The new ProMaster will use two engines, one familiar and one new. The standard engine on most models will be the all-aluminum overhead cam gasoline 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, rated to make 280 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. This engine will always get the 62TE six-speed automatic transmission with ring-and-pinion choices of to be 3.16:1 on half-tons, 3.43:1 on three-quarter-tons, and 3.86:1 on one-tons. The new engine for the Ram truck family will be the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel four-cylinder brought over from Europe and specifically tuned for the ProMaster work-duty cycles. Rated at 174 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque (at 1,400 rpm), the EcoDiesel will be mated to an all-new M40 manu-matic gearbox that can be operated as a manual or automatic transmission. No word as to whether this engine and/or transmission is in line for use in a Ram 1500, or for use in any future hybrid powertrains, but we wouldn't be surprised to see either happen.

For more details on the ProMaster powertrain, click here.

 

Design

ProMaster Design 2 II

Regardless of whether you like the Euro styling of these types of vans, we appreciate the function-first feel of the look, clearly aimed at maximizing every inch of cargo area. Ram designers have built in some common cues in the grille and bumpers to bring the overall look into the Ram truck family, but we'll leave that final evaluation to others. Inside, many of the design choices are functional as well, making storage, entry and exit the highest priorities. Still, with a strong connection to Mopar, there are likely to be some customizing products offered to help interested businesses personalize their work vans.

For more information about the design details, click here.

 

Safety

ProMaster Design II

Ram is promoting that there are more than 35 safety and security features on the new ProMaster, including everything from a new brake-throttle override system to height-adjustable seat belts to traction control systems and more. Additionally, the ProMaster comes with six standard airbags that include two seat-mounted side airbags to protect hip and rib damage. Other safety features include trailer-sway control, hill start assist and a new, relatively aggressive roll mitigation software program.

For more details about and a full list of safety features, click here.

 

Connectivity

ProMaster Interior II

To increase productivity, the ProMaster will offer the Bluetooth-enabled Uconnect system to make work life for commercial drivers safer and easier. Not only can the Uconnect system control 18 different voice-activated text-reply responses while driving, but the system can also include a 5-inch touch-screen that can be used for navigation or as a backup camera screen when so equipped.

For more details about the Uconnect system, click here.

 

Specifications

ProMaster callouts II
For the most up-to-date ProMaster specifications, click here. And to download a larger image of the photo above, click here.

 

Comments

Worldwide 1 same styling is boring, it's a nice BIG European work van but I miss American design

That 3.0L 4 banger sounds interesting. I presume it's still a transverse mount in the van. Transverse would be less desirable in a 1/2 ton. A hybrid diesel would be intriguing.

Sure is ugly, but it is the best seller in Europe for a reason.

I wonder how these would handle on wet or snowy roads with a huge payload in the back, but the drive wheels only being powered in the front? My guess is: horrible.

Oh god that nose

That just looks terrible.

At least the Sprinter and Transit have coherent designs. This thing looks like they had some extra grey plastic left over they had to get rid of.

Plus they only offer FWD? No thanks.

maybe they should have just used the more potent VM diesel to spread the cost around so the upgrade wouldn't be $4,500 (that is the cost in the Jeep GC for the diesel). Especially withthe vehicle loaded up to 12k lbs. it will be slow. the extra grunt of the VM diesel would have made it much more manageable loaded up and likely get better mpg's when loaded for work.

I suspect that the VM's torque was too much for the M40 tranny. I suspect that in coming years this switches to having more gears (broader spread with lower starting gear). Any know if the coming 9-speed can handle 300 lbs of torque?

The nose on that van is horrendous. They need to go back to the drawing board before it is released to the public. If not maybe they can give you a Le Bra as standard equipment to cover it up.
I just don't like this style of van it's a shame that Ford is headed down this road with the Transit. I am sure GM will dump their traditional full sized vans in the near future as well.

G.M. is my only hope.

As it is, it looks a bit well....ugly, but I wonder what it would look like in monotone? and as far as Front wheel drive? sure it is nice for packaging, but try towing with that, expecialy uphill in snow or ever rain will be a problem, and like someone aready said, not to mention what all the weight in back will do to handling and traction?

I think that the grey plastic snout will reduce operational costs for companies. All of the delivery vans I see get banged up. One doesn't need to worry about repainting if it bangs up against something. If it does need replacing, you pop a new snout onto it. Again cheeper due to no paint. Same for the rear bumpers too.
I'm sure that if you want a painted snout, you can get it. No different than base work trucks with flat black bumpers and grills.
Front drive only might not go over well with the old school front engine rear drive types.
Towing? Some guys want towing.
Power?
Thankfully this site is now deleting trolls.
These vans will have less power than the competition.

Looks like some trolls are slipping through!
Best selling van in Europe?
No.

The Transit will be the clear winner in this segment.

The comment on concerning the front wheel drive might not be that well thought out.

I think it snows in Europe, so the vehicle has been used in very similar conditions as in the US.

It a work truck. If you by one to cruise around town to pick up women you have made the wrong choice in vehicle. So looks don't really come into it.

But, you could make a large hareem in the back.

We have a couple of these at work and the guys who drive them say they are comfortable to use and they look better in real life than a photo.

Looks like this will slot just below the Transit, in terms of towing, but otherwise should match it just fine. The low floor will be favorit with delivery services and perhaps the new smaller RV's we have been seeing.
@Mark Williams- judging by the picture of the powertrain, it looks like a strut front suspension, rather than a twin A-arm, as stated in the writeup.
@WXMan- the Ducato is built to have the same axle weight front and rear, so even fully loaded, half the weight should be on the (driven) front axle. That should make it no worse than any of the millions of FWD passenger vehicles out there. Unloaded, it hould do better than a RWD, as the front wheels will carry more weight than the rear.

Like they learned from the Ram C/V with 3.6 liter that this site did a test drive on, does everybody think all the weight would be on the rear? Seriously? I don't know how you load, but I would rather put more weight to the front, or between the axles. That review had this site loading all the weight on the rear. Weight distribution goes a long ways. They shifted it around evenly, then it was just fine.

Glad they didn't stick an engine that like the Ecoboost, requires higher octane (yes, atleast it is a REQUIREMENT in the Fushion) That would have companies cutting corners to save, and potential issues, or a higher operating cost.

I do know the 1.4 L Multiair Turbo from the Dart DOES NOT REQUIRE premium.

I guess we may have to have a van shootout, lol!

@Lou: what is the best selling van in Europe, anyway?

What happened to the transient getting the diesel out first?

To clarify my comment....
The press release calls out a "double A-arm, McPherson strut system". Last I looked, its one or the other, and what I se in the pictire is a strut that integrates into the (pressed steel- YUCK!) knuckle.

@ TRX 4 Tom

The best selling van in Europe has been the Ford Transit for a long time.

@TRXTom - I didn't mention which was the best selling van in Europe because I do believe it had been mentioned in other threads that the Transit (Ford) has held that honour for several decades. But you probably already knew that:)
I do agree that weight distribution is important.
There are buyers that do not have "warm and fuzzy" feelings about front drive vans. That has been mentioned before in relation to the Euro-vans. Those same types also complain about unibody, and beauty.
Are they saying that to troll? or a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder (or beer holder as Bob says) or a case of something being a flaw in a rival's product but the greatest thing on the planet on one's favorite brand.

That is like Tundra saying backup camera is industry exclusive feature and will maximize the "standard" part in the advertising print. They won't mention that the USA government was thinking of making those devices a standard option anyway, and they won't mention the fact that every truck in NA has it as an option for a real long time.

The trend is global products wil find their way in every aspect of North American automotive culture.

I do suspect that the only things that will remain North American will be pickups and muscle cars.
That will eventually change too.
We already have many North American "bodies" sitting on top of Euro derived chassis's.

RAM is still coming up with a bigger van to compete with other larger vans,the ProMaster is not the only one coming ..

You don't get this van for the look what some people forget...good ex look gm diesel ,,,

Ford and Ram are going to clean up in the van market. Ford is already creating a lot of buzz with their website, showing all the configurations of Transit. Van, Wagon, Chasis Cab, and Cutaway models. I think this Ram will get a fair share of sales too, and with both their new looks becoming the standard for vans, GM will look like a dinosaur.
This is going to be a big change for us to see these new vans all over the streets. I think it will be similar to when the minivan first became popular. And then again when the SUV took hold.

Both the gas and diesel engines are light in the torque department. The diesel engines in Europe get taxed based on the size of the engine and even the newer Mercedes vans with 3 liter diesels are low on torque when more than 4 people are on board in the passenger versions. Same thing with this Dodge, both the 2500 and 3500 gasoline versions, light on torque for the weight they are expected to haul safely. Propane costs half the pump price of diesel fuel, so Dodge would be wise to offer at least a 4.5 V6 or the small detuned 4.7 Liter V8, so it would be safe to pass when you have at least a half load of 2,500 pounds of passengers or cargo. You get a federal tax deduction in Canada ( $2,000 ) and the USA ( $2,500 ) when the vehicle is converted aftermarket to us high octane propane. GM and Ford both understand about propane fuel and both offer a propane ready-to-convert V8 engine. Retail pump prices in major U.S. cities for LPG are $1.90 to $2.20 a gallon or 52 to 59 cents a liter in Canada's big cities. Sounds like a no brainer to me. Runs on gasoline when you run out of propane.

Like who cares what a scholl bus looks like... seriously, the people here talking about it bing ugly probably know nothing about mechanicals.

@Lou; my 1972 B-300 based Dodge RV is actually...unibody. It is not a frame off deal like many Fords and GMs are. I can't say much about them, because I don't crawl under their vans. But there are differances in unibody construction. Mide has a solid frame, but it is not frame off, so therefare they call it unibody.

You can see this differance if you look under a Jeep Commanche or Liberty. They have a frame, but it's not frame off. Now my 70 Dart has no frame rails at all, the frame IS the floorboards, and rocker panels, and roof.

Although my RV is only a 8300 pound GVWR, some of the longer wheelbases where closer to 10,400.

I shoulda know the Ford was the best seller in Europe, but I don't pay much attention to what goes on there, car and truck wise.

[quote]The engine has a strange pedigree: It was commissioned by GM back when the company still had a stake in Alfa Romeo, and VM developed it to be used in both transverse and longitudinal applications. Since then, Fiat took back complete ownership of Alfa and also bought a 50-percent stake in VM Motori. Aside from the history lesson, this tells us that the engine should be able to be installed in front-wheel-drive vehicles [/quote]

http://blog.caranddriver.com/jeep-grand-cherokee-to-get-diesel-option-in-u-s-in-2013-other-large-chryslers-soon-after/

That's the 4 cylinder diesel that belongs in a Dakota replacement, but then they would probably make it too small of a bed to do anything with. If it was like the bed the Dakota club cab would have, a 6' or more, I might have been interested in it, if it was like the Dakota quad cab.

@TRX Tom - I have nothing against unibody construction. I was pointing out that it was something the "haters" critisized along with looks and front drive. Those same criticisms have been levied against other products ie. Transit.

@Big Al from Oz - Unloaded is one thing, but 5,000 lbs over a dummy axle and FWD? That'll get you nowhere on slippery, or just wet conditions, depending on slope/grade. Same thing on dirt or muddy roads. And pulling a 5,000 lbs trailer???

I realize that Lou, some people will dislike it no matter what.

If ram wouldve just made the hood (not headlights) line up with the bumper It might have been better imo. See the picture right under engineering u could kinda tell how it would look like a real ram.

It seems several of you are unfamiliar with front-wheel drive in the snow; it's a lot better than you think. Of course, you'll have to re-learn how to drive it if you're not familiar with front-wheel drive. With the right tires, it could probably pull itself out of almost any issue you spin it into.

As for towing, with a load-balancing hitch you can guarantee enough weight on the drive wheels (you should have a load-balancing hitch anyway or you pull weight off the steer wheels even of a conventional van or pickup). Also, with a much more distinct cab-over design, it's designed to carry the load as far forward as possible to balance the weight better between front and rear axles--something most pickups desperately need based on the loadouts I've seen.

@DenverMike
Don't think in pickup terms.

Why would you tow a trailer when you have a vehicle designed to carry that similar load?

I'm not saying some will tow, but when in the States I haven't seen one van towing. I would suspect some are used for towing.

So, its not really an argument.

I think you will see a gradual change in thought on how to manage small commercial vehicles in the US as global vehicle come on board.

Globally we use a work vehicle for work. We do tow, but why buy a truck and not use it as a truck. That's why our mid-sizers have the payloads they do. To carry a load.

These vans are very similar in that regard.

@TRX 4 Tom - fortunately for us, the new anti-trolling done by PUTC has kept us from seeing 20 pages of "Bob" types saying that they will only buy a traditional front engine rear drive BOF van. (Read Chevy).

@DWFields - front drive will probably be okay if not better than rear wheel drive in the snow or poor weather. Driving habits will have to change since 95% of the braking, 100% of the foreward motivation, and steering are all being handled by the same 2 wheels.
I'm willing to bet that people will complain as to how intrusive the traction and stability control systems are while they adjust to these new units.
One has to build these things for the "bumb and dumber" types that often come along with many fleet type jobs. It may be a hard sell to the traditional fleets.
Many will worry about how well will those CV joints hold out hauling 5,000 lbs around on a daily basis in all sorts of weather.

@Big Al from Oz - Yes van do tow in NA, but not as often as pickups, that true, but you said nothing about the viability of a FWD cargo van having a full payload on its dummy axle while on less than optimal driving conditions.

As a 23-24ft Motorhome with a single axles no problem. Actually works better with the Double Axle.
http://www.cmca.net.au/pages/members_market/images/Q32336_001.jpg

@DenverMike
I answered, why would you? You use trucks to load, unless its a prime mover.

It's an inane question DenverMike, like, does hot air rise?

Putting 5 000lbs on the back of the vehicle will not have a big an impact as you would think.

Look at how much weight is over the front drive axle in an unloaded vehicle. Then have a rear wheel drive empty and look at how much weight is over the drive axle.

I would say the front wheel drive will have more weight on the drive axle than the rear wheel drive even with the 500lb hitch weight, so traction wouldn't be a problem.

I see many front wheel drive vehicle here towing caravans.

And stability control and trailer sway control and all the other electronic aids will help.

@Big Al from Oz - Unloaded is a totally different dynamic for FWDs. The front weighs a lot more than the back, as it should be. But you think putting 5,000 lbs (that's the weight of an F-150 super cab) over the dummy axle of a FWD van doesn't impacts anything?

On dry level ground, I agree it's not problem. Not optimal, but still no problem. Then drive with slippery conditions and it's a whole other ballgame. Throw in a steep grade you've got problems. Major problems. Stability and sway control will help prevent an accident, but the problem is getting any traction/friction to get moving when there's not enough down force or weight on the drive wheels compared to the resistance of 7,000 lbs or so, total weight on the dummy axle. And I'm not even including the rolling resistance of a loaded trailer.

@DenverMike
WTF?

Here is what you said:
"And pulling a 5,000 lbs trailer???"

How can you possibly have that 5 000lbs over the rear axle unless you have it in the van? You wouldn't be towing.

Now if the weight is on the trailer, believe it or not, the front wheel drive could have the advantage on a very steep hill.

On a rear wheel drive:
Remember the C of G will tranfer to the back of the trailer and the mechanical advantage (leverage) will reduce the weight on the drawbar and would possible reduce the weight on the rear drive axle. And the tranfer will move to the forward axle on the tow vehicle.

On a front wheel drive:
Where as the front wheel drive axle would theoretically proportionally have less loss of weight over the drive wheels. The weight of the trailer "lifting" up or reducing drawbar weight because of the C of G changes would have a tendencies to transfer weight to the front of the vehicle.

As I said they have been using this type of vehicle in Europe for years.

And the reason front wheel drive vehicles towing capacity is less than a rear wheel drive is due to the chassis design.

Front wheel drives were designed to reduce manufacturing cost and reduce the weight of vehicles (economy).

What happen is manufacturers on need to build an strong chassis over the drive axles. What's behind isn't as strong as the rear wheels aren't use for traction.

But this Fiat/Ram van has a much stronger chassis to support the load at the tow bar.

@DenverMike
A cars C of G is much different to the Fiat/Ram van. Motor cars designer try to have a 50/50 front rear weight ratio.

So making a comparison of this vehicle to a front wheel drive car isn't the best option.

@Big Al from Oz - A trailer doesn't necessarily put static weight on a tongue. See the picture Robert Ryan provided. That SUV just added about 4,000 lbs. to a FWD motor home. You can't escape the laws of physics just because it's not a car.

With that pictured motor home combination is at a dead stop and facing up a steep hill, the shear weight (resistance) vs the available traction (friction x tire contact patch x down force) means you're not going anywhere when things get slippery.

You would have to turn around and back up the hill. It happens to me when I try to back up a steep driveway in slippery conditions. My duals just spin because it's such a heavy truck on skinny commercial tires with much of the weight transferring to my front axle. Going up the same slippery driveway is no problem going forward.

@DenverMike
You are a troll.

First you stated trailer. Then the weight on the rear axle now towing with a bar.

Stop being a jerkoff. Mate, or you will make a fool of yourself.

Trust me. You sometimes make a firefly dazzling.

@DenverMike
I've been thinking about it.

You explain to me in physical terms (simplistically) what your arguement is.

You haven't expressed or supported your views. I have expanded and supported my argument. You then counter my supporting views by altering the parameters of the argument.

If you can't do this, then all you are displaying is a perception or belief (simple), or as I have stated you are just a troll.

What is your point and what are you trying to achieve.

You have claimed you own a trucking company. Start showing me you have the capacity to own and operate trucks. If you have much experience trucking you shouldn't have any problem supporting your argument.


One thing though front and rear wheel drives have advantages and disadvantages.

But in this case I see nothing wrong with a front wheel drive van, it actually has more advantages than a rear wheel drive in this application.

Maybe more power and torque would be nice.

First thing that came to mind is this van definitely has a working-mans beard.

@Big Al from Oz - No I barely mentioned a trailer in passing, and now that's the entire focus of your trolling. Robert Ryan showed you such a combination and we've covered it up and down. What are you trolling for? The laws of physics puts a FWD cargo van at a huge disadvantage in certain situation. Get over it...

You definitely have to think about what heavy packages you put where. You may even have to redistribute your load around the truck throughout your work day.

Did Hemi write the description for the picture of the features? There is an insanely over use of the phrase "Best in Class". Kind of a small class to brag such a thing huh???

@DenverMike
You are trolling.

You pose a problem as if you know the answer on how resolve it. But yet you don't provide any reasoning or an answer for the problem.

Remember DenverMike I have had debates with you previously. You try and sound convincing, but yet there is little substance in your argument.

You tell me why I'm incorrect in my first two assessments.

Your initial statement to me was:


"@Big Al from Oz - Unloaded is one thing, but 5,000 lbs over a dummy axle and FWD? That'll get you nowhere on slippery, or just wet conditions, depending on slope/grade. Same thing on dirt or muddy roads. And pulling a 5,000 lbs trailer???"


There are only two problems in that statement, one is 5 000lbs over the rear axle (of which 1/3 would be tranfered to the front axle on top of the existing load).

I have already answered that.

The second is towing, which I have answered.

Now what is your response to those two problems. You have inferred the problems as factual situation where you know the answers. Don't expand to probems to create a deflection.

Substantiate.

This van is UGLY! A light duty van to say the least. Dodge never has been known to build a good van and that is why they left the market until they merged with MB. This is just another foreign van with the Dodge name on it. Pretty sad if you ask me.

@Big Al from Oz -
"There are only two problems in that statement, one is 5 000lbs over the rear axle (of which 1/3 would be tranfered to the front axle on top of the existing load)."

You're forgetting the weight of the truck's back half, 2,000 lbs.. OK, 5,000 minus a 1/3 is 3,333.. Plus tongue weight from the trailer, 550, making 5,880 lbs for the rear and 3,660 lbs for the front approx. OK not too terrible, but that's on dry city streets. Add some snow and there you (don't) go! Are traveling up a steep up hill? That transfers up to 1/3 of the front mass, guess where???

A rain slick street will give you problems at that point... Forget about snow!!! Just a muddy road will give you problems on a grade. Even without a grade! Rough and steep dirt roads make it worse with independent front suspension scratching for decent traction throughout their range of motion...

You're also assuming ideal loading and stacking opportunities for the cargo.

Then you're forgetting the rolling resistance of trailer and the total of up to 15,000 lbs on a steep snowy street with all but (approx w/weight transfer) 2,000 lbs over the FWD axle???

That's why I'm saying, with a RWD work van, you don't have to consider any of this crap!!!



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