2014 Ram ProMaster
2014 Ram ProMaster
2014 Ram ProMaster
2014 Ram ProMaster. Click image to enlarge

Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jonathan Yarkony and courtesy Ram

If you didn’t think Chrysler Group was serious about their commercial vehicle contingent – the Ram ProMaster is here to tell you otherwise.

Ever since the Sprinter was lost in the divorce (don’t mention the war), Ram has needed a replacement. The stopgap measure of the Ram Cargo Van (as in the rebadged, window-covered, stripped-interior decontented Grand Caravan) just was not flexible enough to suit all needs in the commercial van segment. Now they have one in the Fiat Ducato–based ProMaster. And on first impressions it’s a good one.

On face value, this is just a re-skinned Fiat Ducato – it has the same near-vertical sides, the same front-wheel-drive layout and the same three-piece front fascia. But Ram insists this is more than a rebadge, they say the ProMaster has an upgraded chassis to cope with North American safety standards, and some Ram tuning to the suspension. It also gets a 3.6L Pentastar V6 or a 3.0L inline-four diesel.

Ram engineers say they’ve strengthened the chassis to cope with higher typical payloads and rougher roads. They say they’ve taken the experience of a 30-year-old design direction, and coupled it with a North American–focused refresh. I believe them.

The interior is the biggest visible difference, with a totally revised radio and interface, plus the addition of several thousand cupholders – because if there’s anything North Americans want, it’s cupholders. Lots of ‘em. There are also three paperclips for holding documents on the dash and pillars, plus a shelf mounted on the roof with an enlarged lip.

The ProMaster is available in the standard Ram designations (1500, 2500 and 3500) and comes in four flavours: cargo van, window van, chassis cab and cutaway. There are three wheelbase options: 300 cm (118 inch), 345 cm (136 inch) and 404 cm (159 inch). Payload maximums range from 1,721 kg (3,794 lb) on the 1500 to 5,134 kg (5,134 lb) for the 3500 LWB Cutaway.

Got height? The ProMaster comes with a 2.28 m (90-inch) or 2.57 m (101-inch) roof, which combined with the low floor height give an interior vertical height of 165 cm (5’5”) or 193 cm (6’4”). I could stand up straight in either of them.

Ram claims the most vertical sides in its class with the ProMaster, and is quick to point out that the front-wheel-drive format is the reason for the low 53 cm (21-inch) step-in height and the flat load floor – well, almost flat. Pesky rear wheels mean there are some wheel arches in the sides, but there is still 142 cm (56 in.) between them.

2014 Ram ProMaster2014 Ram ProMaster
2014 Ram ProMaster. Click image to enlarge

From the press release:

“Additionally, the Ram ProMaster offers both a chassis cab and cutaway, direct from the factory. Its unibody frame architecture makes it significantly lighter than the competition and as a result, the ProMaster boasts an impressive payload capacity up to 2,354 kg (5,189 lb) and a maximum towing capacity up to 2,354 kg (5,189 lb).”

Why a cutaway? Well, a few reasons, but it’s worth noting that in Europe the Fiat Ducato is a common base-vehicle for RVs and motorhomes – it would make sense that a similar trend would take over here in the spiritual home of such vehicles.

You can buy a full-bodied version with a partition between the cabin and load area, or with a pass-through between the two. You can even fit out the ProMaster with swivel seats to make that pass-through more useable.

Speaking of seats, you can have suspension seats, swivel seats, two seats or three seats. In three seat format you get a solo driver’s seat, and then a split-fold passenger seat. The middle section folds down to provide a document/work area and – you guessed it – a couple of extra cupholders.

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