Used 2016 Ram Promaster Cargo Van Review
Edmunds expert review
Thanks to its sensible European roots, the 2016 Ram ProMaster full-size cargo van is a great option for American business owners. It offers a space-efficient design, a user-friendly interior and solid powertrain choices.
What's new for 2016
Few vehicle classes have changed as much over the last five years as the full-size van segment. Traditional American vans based on heavy-duty pickup components have largely died out, and lighter, narrower and taller vans from Europe have taken their place. One of the most unusual of these expat cargo vans is the 2016 Ram ProMaster, a space-efficient, front-wheel-drive van that competes in a class dominated by rear-wheel-drive vans.
Ram adapted its ProMaster van lineup from Fiat's Ducato, a commercial van known for its durability, easy driving manners and low running costs. Like most vans of European origin, the ProMaster comes in a healthy variety of configurations. There are 1500, 2500 and 3500 versions offering varying levels of capability. Then there are two wheelbase choices for the 1500 and 2500, low- and high-roof options for the 1500, and an extended-body option for the 3500 series. Most ProMaster cargo vans will have the higher roof, and it gives the van a tall but tidy profile that maximizes cargo volume and permits users to stand upright inside the van. This is a boon for contractors who use their vans as mobile office space, and it gives upfitters more options to modify the 2016 Ram ProMaster for specific business applications.
One of the most distinctive things about the ProMaster cargo van is its very short hood, which is made possible by its front-wheel-drive layout. Forward visibility is excellent, and executing tight turns is less stressful than it would be in other large vans. A downside to the front-drive setup is the Ram's lower tow rating compared with rivals. Payload capacity is going to be more important for most cargo van users, though, and in this regard, the ProMaster is just as stout as the competition: It can shoulder up to 4,420 pounds, depending on how it's equipped. Ram's capable 3.6-liter gasoline V6 engine gives you higher load limits, while the available 3.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder returns better fuel economy.
Although the Ram ProMaster is a compelling pick for a cargo van, you'll certainly want to check out the competition in this class. The current leader of the field is the Ford Transit, which comes in three available roof heights and offers three available engines along with an impressive list of factory-installed technology features. It's more expensive than the ProMaster, though. That's also the case for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, though it offers two different diesel engines, two roof heights and above-average build quality. If you want something more affordable, the Nissan NV also offers a couple different roof heights and is one of the few remaining full-size vans to offer a V8 engine. Should you decide you don't need something quite so large, the new Mercedes Metris splits the difference between these heavyweights and smaller delivery vans.
Ultimately, your purchase decision will hinge on your specific needs and budget, but the attractively priced 2016 Ram ProMaster Cargo Van strikes us as a good middle-of-the-road option for a business van.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Ram ProMaster cargo van (the passenger version, the Window Van, is reviewed separately) 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, and there's an available extended-length body configuration (250 inches versus the standard 236) for buyers wanting even more cargo space.
Standard features for all include 16-inch steel wheels, a passenger-side sliding door, air-conditioning, cloth bucket seats, power front windows, power locks, keyless entry, a telescoping (but unfortunately not tilt-adjustable) steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary audio inputs.
Available options include alloy wheels, foglights, daytime running lights, 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, cruise control, an electronic parking brake, a cargo partition (with or without a sliding window), heated seats, swivel seats, a suspension driver seat, adjustable lumbar support, a double passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, interior wall paneling and various add-ons aimed at upfitters, including the new 20-amp auxiliary instrument panel switches and auxiliary battery preparation. You can also get satellite radio and an upgraded audio system with a Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands, steering-wheel-mounted controls and, for an additional cost, GPS navigation.
There are several options packages, including the Premium Appearance package (chrome grille and foglights), the Interior Convenience package (overhead shelf, under-seat storage tray and locking glovebox), the Cargo Convenience group (cargo net and sidewall tie-down rings) and a towing package.
Performance & mpg
Standard on all 2016 Ram ProMasters is a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Optional is a 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It is also paired with a six-speed automatic (though technically this one is an automated manual transmission).
Properly equipped, the ProMaster can handle payloads of up to 4,420 pounds (payload capacity varies according to the configuration you choose) and tow up to 5,100 pounds. The Ram ProMaster's payload capacity is competitive for the class, but its tow rating is significantly lower than those of its rear-wheel-drive competitors.
Commercial vans like the 2016 Ram ProMaster cargo van are not subject to conventional fuel economy testing by the Environmental Protection Agency and do not have published EPA mpg ratings.
Standard safety features for the 2016 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 rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
It's remarkable how much more confidence you can have in piloting a large van when the hood is short and you sit high above it. That's the perspective from the 2016 Ram ProMaster cargo van's driver seat, and you get further encouragement from the van's light steering and relatively compact turning circle. All these elements team up to deliver the impression of maneuverability, even in city traffic, though care still has to be taken when reversing, even with the help of the optional rearview camera.
We like both of the available engines. The standard 3.6-liter gasoline V6 comes straight from Chrysler's car lineup, so it's smooth, quiet and much more refined than you'd expect an engine in a commercial van to be. The four-cylinder turbodiesel engine's forte is efficiency and low-speed pulling power. It's noisier than the gasoline engine, particularly until it warms, but the diesel's overall refinement is entirely sufficient and it moves the ProMaster with real vigor at suburban speeds. The diesel is our pick for stop-and-go delivery work, even if its maximum payload ratings slightly trail those of the gasoline V6.
Functionality is the watchword for the 2016 Ram ProMaster's interior, with controls and instruments designed based on Fiat's decades of commercial-van experience. The ProMaster's gauges are large and clear, with a multifunction display centered between the speedometer and tachometer. Climate control comes via a straightforward, three-knob layout for temperature, fan speed and directional control. Audio controls are mounted high on the dash (some will have to lean forward a bit to reach them), with the optional 5-inch Uconnect touchscreen audio system a worthwhile upgrade for those who plan to use the van for longer trips. Extended stints behind the wheel are eased by the well-bolstered captain's chairs (swivel mounts are an option), but the lack of tilt steering wheel adjustment might result in a less than optimal driving position. Meanwhile, there are plenty of well-placed storage areas and cupholders.
Cargo capacity ranges from 259 cubic feet of cargo on the 1500 low-roof model to 463 cubic feet on the extended-length 3500 van. Although that doesn't quite match the Ford Transit's maximum of 487 cubic feet, the ProMaster vans still offer cavernous space to accommodate all manner of cargo or customized upfitter components. As you might expect, the 2016 ProMaster can be ordered with solid walls and rear doors or with a choice of windows. Some buyers will find the optional sliding rear door on the driver side a boon for easy entry to the cargo area.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.