2014 Ram ProMaster Van: First Drive

ProMaster action 9 II
 

By Andrew Mikonis

Filling the full-size gap in Ram Commercial's van offerings comes the ProMaster, based on the third-generation Fiat Ducato van Ram has offered in Europe for several decades.

The most significant feature of this new van for North America is that it offers a front-wheel-drive-only configuration. Along with unitized construction, Ram said the configuration results in reduced weight, which increases payload. An all-wheel or four-wheel-drive model will not be offered, so it won't require the extra room needed for a driveshaft and rear-drive axle; this allows for a wider load floor with a lower step-in height, which Ram said will reduce driver fatigue when loading and unloading cargo.

However, as low as the cargo load-in height might be, to climb into the front seats you have to lift yourself a good distance. The driver has an elevated, upright perch that does offer amazing visibility - a little like a bus driver. A large, stationary front quarter window allows for an unobstructed view of the monstrous side mirrors, leaving a tall and narrow side window.

The 2014 Ram ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van we drove, with a high roof, offers some ergonomic hits and misses. Because of the upright seating position, legroom is a bit constrained. The bottom of the instrument panel extends quite low on both sides, leaving little room above the brake pedal. We found the brakes difficult to modulate because of the unfamiliar "stomping" angle. We also suspect some may have trouble with how close the narrow brake pedal and throttle are to one another. We also would have liked a tilting steering wheel to help us fit better behind it. Manual seats offered a lot of adjustments, including a spring-loaded height feature at the front and rear for tilt forward and tilt back. Backrest angle and lumbar support are actuated by knobs and offer a significant range of adjustments.

Storage compartments are plentiful in the cab. Our tester had a shelf above the sun visors and another tier above the occupants that extends to the back of the cab area. Massive door pockets and an open bin above the glovebox offer plenty of places to store small items. We liked the look of the rugged plastic door panels and the feel of the soft-touch elbow pad.

Outside door handles are vertical so they can be opened with either hand. Hinges look hearty, especially the cast external units for the rear doors that allow the doors to open all the way along the sides of the van. Exposed fasteners on front and rear door hinges should simplify repair should they be damaged. In another nod to serviceability, a three-piece front fascia can be replaced in sections as needed.

ProMaster 4 II

While most drivers are familiar with front-wheel-drive handling characteristics, it likely will feel different in the ProMaster. As you might expect, the rear end tends to pitch in hard cornering when the van is empty. Once we got used to the feel, we smoothed our technique to match the vehicle. We did find the ride a bit bouncy and noisy, but we're guessing that just goes along with a leaf-spring beam axle and cavernous cargo area. We also had to get used to the quick tip-in the throttle offered, which seems a little twitchier when empty. But we did find a remedy for that.

Our payload of 1,200 pounds in the cargo area during the test drive made the vehicle feel much more planted and controlled. It was apparent that engineering calibrations, from the suspension to powertrain, were optimized for loaded conditions - appropriately so. We only noticed a weight issue with the 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine when ascending a long grade. In normal city driving it provided perfectly adequate acceleration without a lot of noise. The six-speed automatic transmission downshifts quickly, even with just a light throttle input, to stay in the higher-revving powerband when hauling. There will be a turbodiesel option in the form of a small, Fiat-derived I-4 3.0-liter engine for those who need a stronger puller (offering 295 lb-ft of torque). Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to drive the new I-4 diesel or play with the manumatic transmission Ram Commercial will be offering because those models won't be produced until later in the van's production cycle.

Brake power assist is also biased to loaded conditions and is nicely modulated with a high, firm pedal. Perhaps the best advantage this new work van offers is its tight turning circle, well suited for its target audience of delivery drivers in urban areas. The base ProMaster has a turning diameter of 36 feet (that's basically the same as a midsize sedan).

We like that Ram engineers kept the interior controls and switches simple. The layout is simple and user-friendly. Climate controls consist of a classic three-knob setup. The system seemed to have no trouble keeping the front of the van cool on a 90-degree day. Our tester came with the optional Uconnect 5.0 and GPS navigation; Uconnect internet connectivity also is available.

ProMaster 6 II

The cargo area offers 56 inches of space between the wheel wells and a cargo volume of 530 cubic feet behind the front-row seat. Ram has been working with upfitters, including U.S.-based shelving makers, to have a range of accessories available for configuring the ProMaster for a variety of uses.

Fiat's 30 years of refining this product comes through in the ProMaster's many well-thought-out details. Wrapping it around a pair of strong powertrain choices will make it an appealing package many small and large business owners. It will be interesting to see if the traditional U.S. commercial customer will embrace this Euro-van-inspired model. We know Ford will be watching carefully as well. 

For the full press release on the 2014 Ram ProMaster, click here

For the complete specification sheet on the 2014 Ram ProMaster, click here

 

Model: 2014 Ram ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van High Roof

Wheelbase: 159 inches

Engine: 3.6-liter 60-degree DOHC V-6

Horsepower: 280 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 258 pounds-feet @ 4,175 rpm

Transmission: 62TE six-speed automatic

Wheels: 16-inch steel

Tires: 225/75R16C all season

Brakes: Four-wheel disc

Axle ratio: 3.86:1

Front suspension: McPherson with stabilizer bar

Rear suspension: Leaf spring with solid beam axle

Base price: $33,870 (including destination)

As tested: $37,175

Options: Uconnect 5.0, GPS navigation, wood floor, power folding/heated mirrors

ProMaster diesel II

ProMaster 2 II

ProMaster 1 II

ProMaster int II

ProMaster 10 II

 

Comments

Not bad, but the Transit will be much better. I suppose Nissan would do well to offer the 5.0L Cummins in its van too.

This van will go over real well with the internet product advisory division of Fiat. Front drive and NO V8.
Get used to it boys, this is your future and your future is rebadged European products.
A Ford powertrain VP has said, "Trahan’s comments follow on the heels of remarks by Joe Bakaj, Ford Motor Co. vice president of powertrain engineering, who said that naturally aspirated engines could may see their end in Ford’s lineup."

I can see no need to drop the chicken tax since all of the global stuff will replace all of the North American stuff.

Let the trolling begin ;)

I actually like it. I think the Winnebego Travato will be cool.

The fake Lou disgusts me. Real Americans should no better than to imitate a person on the interwebs of humanity. Here I try again and again to be or not to be. Whatever is the question. For those who say you have to be born to be a proper man, I reply, am I too not a man? This behavior disgusts me. To whom it may concern, their is no flattery in justice!, no devil on the truth.

@Sep 21, 2013 12:13:34 AM

another fake post by the cowardly fake Lou.

Sucks to be you, but then again, you probably enjoy sucking.

Anyone can look at my typepad account to verify if I actually made a post.

The Fake Lou can copy my typepad link but if you look at the account posting history, the post he made does not show up on my list of posts.

I think Lou doesn't realize that he himself is a troll.

@AWorldWithoutLou

Keep trolling, I am sure that you are generating a lovely electronic trail that anyone with rudimentary tracing software can follow.

I'm sure your IP address is the same as the Fake lou post listed above.

anyone who is tired of the trolling can click the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page and file a complaint.

or click here.

http://www.pickuptrucks.com/trucks/contactus.html

anyone who is tired of the trolling can click the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page and file a complaint.

or click here.

http://www.pickuptrucks.com/trucks/contactus.html

I reported Big Al.

I will lay it out for you. Al is anti American and is here under false pretenses. Big Al is being reported for and is under investigation for spamming, not posting about specified topics in the blog posts, being here under false pretenses, not being civil, lying, threatening readers, and lying to Mark Williams and threatening/slandering the site.

I wonder if a cab chassis version willl hit the US?

Here is a link to the Ducato we get.

I do think the van will do well, the diesel should sell well also. If you look at the diesel it's characteristics are very 'trucklike' in comparison to the VM diesel going into the Ram.

But I would expect the diesel to return an average in the mid 20s for FE. This is a plus for any business.

http://www.fiat.com.au/ducato/

@Lou I"m going to try and be as nice to you as possible. The truth is people are getting upset with you, and it's apparent you know that by the way you're all of a sudden commenting people, trying to get on their good side.

Lou you try and put on this facade as if you're some kind of hero, but people don't think of you that way at all. You come off as an immature moron. You constantly criticize people's comments and not let them speak their mind. Many of the comments that you leave seem like they were written by a kindergartner Lou.


And Lou for shits sake stop polluting the comment section with your comment spam.

$38k for a cargo van?!?!

Say whaaaaa........

That's almost what a Sprinter costs with a diesel that will power your steam cleaner.

anyone who is tired of the trolling can click the link below and file a complaint.

https://www.facebook.com/Ssshhh.No1.gives.a.fukk

I think this is one area Nissan will have locked down in the states within a few short years. These new Ford and Dodge vans are just bad. Nissan offers a more American like alternative to this Euro stuff. Built here now too. Who knows what's going on with Chevrolet.

PUTC; please put together a series on putting interiors in vans like these. It's a clean slate. There's a bunch in the market (from Ram C/V and on), and more coming.

Personally, I'd like to see one of these smaller vans converted to a tactical van for personal use. The entry price for the van is reasonable, and they have a high use value.

I know there's tons of contractor racks, and alternately, RV conversions. But neither is really suitable. R/Vs are too pretty, and don't hold their value, and permanent contractor racks and bins take away from the flexibility of the utility space.

thanks.

All the guys that complain. How hard is it to ignore a couple of stupidazz comments?

@Karl - Actually it is the same guy complaining Karl. If he hates the site so much why doesn't he just leave? It's easy stop reading the Blog.

Watch out Karl...Lou will call you a Troll.

I kind of find the trolls funny. It makes this site real and fun.

Seems kind of weak for a full size van good thing they will at some point offer a diesel cause that 3.6 looks weak. They should offer some type of 4wd too or they will lose sales.

@Jerry - which Lou are you talking to? There seems to be a ton of them all of a sudden.

Funny how all these "new" names are popping up.

It is simple Jerry.

if one posts something that does not make sense or is not backed by any semblance of fact, I will challenge it.

It is called critical thinking and open debate.

What is going on throughout this site is not that, it is trolling and personal attacks.

I don't care if SOME people do not like my opinion, just be man enough to either defend your opinion or be man enough to say that you do not agree.

@Jerry- hi Jerry great to hear from you. I didn't expect a man of your status to be roaming around a $uck'n site that talks about trucks....lol. Yep these people talk about their trucks...no kidding.

Anyway now that your here I wanted to ask about the footage on the Day the Clown Died you had sworn repeatedly over the years that you would never let the 1972 movie about a clown who led Jewish children to their deaths during the holocaust she light of day.

You know in the film, You play a down-on-his-luck German circus clown named Helmut Doork, arrested after drunkenly mocking Adolf Hitler and placed in a concentration camp awaiting trial. He later boards a train headed to Auschwitz packed with Jewish children, and, once there, is forced to perform for them, Pied Piper-style, as they are led to the gas chambers. Helmut joins them in the gas chamber in the film's final scene.

Tell us more Jerry or do you want to talk about your $uck'n truck like the rest of these losers?

@Fake Lou - once again you show another useful use of your Liberal Arts Degree.
You must of majored in comedy.
First you show vids of George Carlin and now you are citing a work of Jerry Lewis.

What are you doing here?

This is a truck site.

I'm sure there must be plenty of sites for unemployed grads with useless college degrees.

I know that liberal arts degree wasn't a good idea Lou, especially
Since your mother had to turn tricks to put me through university. If you want to call university in Canada university.

@MaXx
We are paying more than that for our list price, but I would think they would drop them quite a bit. As of late prices are becoming more flexible.

Remember don't try and convert into US dollars as it wouldn't be what you guys will pay. I think carilloski made a simple vehicle price converter for the cost of an Australian vehicle would cost in the US. It's about 2/3s.

So a vehicle that costs $39 000 in Australia would cost about $26 000 in the US.

Here's our price list. We don't get the 3 litre diesel like you guys are getting, they are too polluting (CO2 not EuroV compliant). The 2.3 litre diesel is nearly as powerful and is supposed to use 19% less fuel.

Gotta luv diesels, they just keep on getting better.

Pricing

Medium Wheelbase/low roof Dual Seat - 96kW Manual - $39,990
Medium Wheelbase/low roof Dual Seat - 96kW MTA Auto - $42,990
Medium Wheelbase/Medium roof Dual Seat - 96kW Manual - $42,990
Medium Wheelbase/Medium roof Dual Seat - 96kW MTA Auto -$45,990
Long wheelbase/Medium roof Dual Seat - 96kW Manual - $45,990
Long wheelbase/Medium roof Dual Seat - 96kW MTA Auto - $49,090
Extra long wheelbase/medium roof Dual Seat - 109kW Manual - $49,590
Extra long wheelbase/medium roof Dual Seat - 109kW MTA Auto - $52,890
Cab chassis - 2.3 96kW Manual - $44,990
Cab chassis - 2.3 96kW MTA Auto - $47,990
Options

Metallic Paint - $950
Bench Seat - $975

@fake Lou - you are painting a very good picture of yourself:

A bottom feeding loser that makes fun of the USA, makes fun of soldiers who have fought and died for our freedoms, and makes fun of people's dead mothers.

You have shown that you are not Canadian by your stories about winter and your comments about Canadian Universities.

Thanks for your input.

You are showing us who you really are.

Keep it up.

I do not mind.

The Diesel model will do fine with customers who can amortize the $4000 premium.
The big weakness with the Promaster is the 6 speed automatic. It is a warmed over version of what Chrysler had been using in cars- eventhough it has loer final gearing, adapted to the vehicle GVW, it might well prove to be the big weak point. When you're delving into a new configuration like this (FWD fullsize van) you can't have ANY weak points, otherwise Ford (and MB and Nissan) will eat your lunch. The step-in height and payload are cool, but that trans will care some people off. As much as I wanted to like the Ducato, smart money is probably on the Transit.

Looks like a lot of RPM's 6400 to get that power. Six speed is good, but a lot of shifting in hilly areas like mine. Looking to replace my 1994 Aeromate. This is as close as it gets.



Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by Cars.com. By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2014 Cars.com | Privacy Statement | Contact Us

Visit our partner: MovingTruck.com