Full 2014 Ram Promaster Cargo Van Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Ram ProMaster is a new cargo van that comes to Ram showrooms by way of Fiat.
European cargo and passenger van manufacturers have long known that it's more space-efficient to go up than it is to go out. These European vans may look odd compared to traditional American vans, but there's no ignoring their advantages, namely a lot more interior volume for a given footprint and the luxury of a high ceiling that allows even taller adults to walk around inside without stooping. For much of the 2000s, the Dodge brand had just such a van in the Mercedes-built Sprinter. Now, because of Fiat's ownership of Chrysler, we're getting a second go-around with the 2014 Ram ProMaster.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster is based on the Fiat Ducato, a workhorse that has been popular in Europe for decades. It measures up to 20 inches taller than a traditional domestic van and uses a space-efficient front-wheel-drive layout and partial unibody construction (as opposed to full body-on-frame). This translates to massive interior volume, a tight turning circle and a lowest-in-class step-in height. This cavernous space makes it easier for upfitters (companies that modify cargo vans for plumbers and electricians) to put in all their handy features while still allowing plenty of room for folks to move around. The tall architecture and resulting seating position also provides a commanding view of the road, and the ProMaster's snub-nose design also means easier maneuverability in tight quarters.
Another European trait is available diesel power, as the optional 3.0-liter diesel four-cylinder promises notably better fuel economy than a gas-chugging V8 while still providing nearly 300 pound-feet of torque to handle heavy loads. The standard 3.6-liter V6 is no slouch, though, and its strong 280 horsepower promises quicker acceleration than the diesel. Maximum hauling and towing capacities are more than competitive, as the ProMaster is able to haul payloads of up to 4,417 pounds, while towing capacity tops out at 5,100 pounds.
As far as its most direct competition, the 2014 Ram ProMaster faces the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Nissan NV. Both also offer available tall-roof architectures. The Benz is considerably more expensive, however, and offers only diesel power, while the Nissan is more competitively priced and offers a choice of two gas engines, including a V8. All are very capable workhorses, and we'd suggest cross-shopping them to determine which one best suits your specific needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ram ProMaster comes in three main trim levels: 1500, 2500 and 3500. The 1500 is available with a low or high roof option, while the 2500 and 3500 are only available with the high roof. The 1500 is offered in 118- and 136-inch wheelbases while the 2500 offers a choice of 136- and 159-inch wheelbases. The 3500 is only offered with the 159-inch wheelbase, with a longer-body configuration for extra cargo space available as well.
Standard features for all include 16-inch steel wheels, a passenger-side sliding side door, air-conditioning, cloth bucket seats, power front windows, power locks, keyless entry, a telescoping (but not tilt-adjustable) steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary audio jack.
Available options include alloy wheels, foglights, a driver-side sliding door, windows for the side and rear doors, power folding/heated sideview mirrors, an alarm system, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a cargo partition (with or without a sliding window), navigation, heated seats, swivel seats, a suspension driver seat, adjustable lumbar support, a double passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded audio with Bluetooth and steering-wheel-mounted controls, satellite radio, cruise control and interior wall paneling.
There are also a number of packages including a Premium Appearance group (bright grille and foglights), a Driver Convenience package (overhead shelf and locking glovebox) and a Cargo Convenience group (cargo net and sidewall tie-down rings).
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on all Ram ProMasters is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Optional is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel four with 174 hp and 295 lb-ft paired to a six-speed automated manual transmission. Properly equipped, the ProMaster can handle payloads of up to 4,417 pounds (this number varies depending on the configuration you choose) and tow up to 5,100 pounds.
Standard safety features for the 2014 Ram ProMaster include front side and side curtain airbags, antilock disc brakes, hill start assist, stability control (with trailer sway control) and traction control. Optional features include a roadside safety kit, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Ram ProMaster's interior is an example of no-nonsense functionality. Instruments are large and clear, with a multifunction display centered between the speedometer and tachometer. Climate controls are of the tried-and-true three-knob design, while the audio system and optional navigation system are mounted up high on the center stack. Long hours on the road are eased via well-bolstered captain's chairs and an abundance of handy cupholders and cubbies.
The ProMaster's immense cargo area -- up to 530 cubic feet -- offers plenty of customization possibilities. From the factory there is a choice of solid or windowed walls and rear doors, and the interior walls can be fitted with paneling. Upfitters will have plenty of space to work with for installing shelves, cabinets, cages, work benches and the like.
The high, cab-forward driving position on the 2014 Ram ProMaster gives you a good perspective of the road ahead, making it easy to park and navigate tight urban areas. The tall seats and the lack of tilt adjustment on the steering wheel can make finding a driving position more difficult for taller operators, however.
Thanks to a tight turning circle, the ProMaster feels maneuverable and nimble in city driving conditions. Whether you choose the base V6 or the turbodiesel four-cylinder, payload numbers for the ProMaster are high, contributing to its versatility as a work van. Yet it still drives comfortably, with a relatively smooth ride quality that seems more like that of a minivan than a traditional work van.