2013 Chicago Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- 2014 Ram ProMaster van debuts at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
- The ProMaster is based on Chrysler corporate parent Fiat's Ducato.
- Ram claims a vanful of class-leading attributes for the new ProMaster, including fuel economy, payload, turning radius, towing capacity and cargo capacity.
CHICAGO — You may not think much about delivery vans, but Chrysler, Ford and Mercedes-Benz are prepping for war in the full-size van segment and Chrysler's Ram chose the 2013 Chicago Auto Show to unveil its new weapon, the 2014 ProMaster.
It's frequently said that thanks to higher gasoline prices and upward-moving Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations, the U.S. market increasingly looks like the European auto market, and the ProMaster is a prime example. Bucking decades of domestic-automaker tradition for rear-drive, truck-based commercial vans, the 2014 ProMaster is a unibody, front-drive beast. That's because Ram's Commercial unit opted to leverage the all-encompassing success of corporate parent Fiat's Ducato van by adapting the Ducato for the U.S. market.
Now in its third generation, the front-drive Ducato has sold 4.5 million units around the world, so it can generally be assumed the Ducato works. For America, there will be three wheelbases ranging from 118 inches to 159 inches, four body lengths and two roof heights, meaning the ProMaster can range from airport shuttle-van size to full-blown delivery or trade workhorse.
Apart from the aero-maxed styling, the most interesting element of the ProMaster might be the big 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that's being used for the first time here. The fuel economy and durability emphasis of the commercial market are reflected in the engine's mellow-tuned 174 horsepower and 295 pound-foot ratings, so don't go whining for this iron-block diesel to show up in the Dodge Dart or something.
Additional curiosity with the new diesel: It is backed by a six-speed, single-clutch automated-manual transmission with a host of electromechanical trickery like grade-sensing software and a control strategy that locks out gearshifts in curves.
The 2014 ProMaster's standard engine, though, will be the Pentastar gasoline 3.6-liter V6. Ratings are 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while a traditional six-speed automatic is standard.
This use marks the 14th vehicle to employ the Pentastar V6, so Chrysler's quickly reaping payback on the investment for the V6 that replaced about a half-dozen dog-eared V6s from the pre-Fiat Chrysler era.
Ram claims a vanful of class-leading attributes for the new ProMaster, including fuel economy, payload, turning radius, towing capacity and cargo capacity. Production starts in the third quarter of this year at Chrysler's Saltillo, Mexico, assembly plant.
Edmunds says: After roughly three decades of being largely ignored, the full-size van market is finally getting some upgrades. Diesel power and numerous configurations should help the ProMaster overcome any hesitation over its front-wheel-drive layout.