Test Drive: Ram ProMaster

This hard-working Euro-designed van is more than ready for the tough Canadian worksite.

The Ram ProMaster hasn’t changed much since it arrived on North American shores as a rebadged Fiat Ducato, but then again, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The ProMaster is good at what it does, and like many vans in this class, it’s well suited to the needs of many fleet buyers.

All versions of the ProMaster, including the cutaway, chassis cab, and vans come with the same 280-hp 3.6L V6, rated at 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0L EcoDiesel option is in the works and FCA says it will have a “Late Availability.”

The van version comes in three flavours: 1500, 2500 and 3500, with payloads of 4,000 lb (1,814 kg), 4,140 lb (1,878 kg), and 4,440 lb (2,013 kg), respectively. All are front-wheel drive, which Ram points out not only makes for a lower load floor (for easy loading, unloading, and a lower step-in height), but also helps in low-traction surfaces, like snow, since there is always weight on the front wheels to provide traction.

Upfitting
Step inside this Euro-flavoured van, and it’s clear that the ProMaster was engineered with upfitting in mind. The smallest van in the family, the 1500 with the standard roof (65 inches) and the 118-inch wheelbase has a cargo volume of 259 cu. ft., but you can opt for as much as 463 cu. ft. of cargo volume with the 3500 model with the high roof (76 inches) and 159-inch wheelbase.

When you consider that the cargo width between the wheel wells is 56 inches, there’s plenty of room inside for shelves and storage, especially since the walls are near vertical. The cargo area also boasts 17 floor-tie-down loops and five sidewall loops for added security.

Technology
Up front, the driver and front passenger have access to the 5-inch screen of the Uconnect multimedia system, complete with Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free cell phone connection, as well as nice-to-have extras like satellite radio, and an optional GPS navigation system. Power ports abound for electronic devices, and there are plenty of practical storage spaces for anything and everything that might be needed during the work day.

Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional Driver Suspension Seat, which takes all the bumps out of the road, making light work of long hours on the road.

To make backing into tight spaces as effortless as possible, the ProMaster comes with a standard back-up camera, as well as sensors, fore, and aft, that detect obstacles, sound out a warning, and even display a visual warning on the screen, when equipped with the optional Park-Sense Rear Park Assist system.

With so many options, and so many ways to configure the ProMaster, this van is suitable for a wide range of fleet applications, and is worth a closer look if you’re in the market for a workhorse with a few uniquely European touches.

Vehicle 2018 1500 Ram ProMaster Cargo Van
Base MSRP $32,320
Price As Tested $41,724
Engine 3.6L V6 (3.0L EcoDiesel option coming)
Power/Torque 280 hp / 260 lb.-ft.
Transmission 6-speed automatic

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