The 2017 Ram ProMaster is the only full-size commercial van that uses front-wheel drive. That may sound odd for a work vehicle, but there are advantages to the setup, including improved traction (particularly when the van is relatively lightly laden), a smaller turning radius and excellent visibility because the transversely mounted engine allows a short hood. But rear-drive, and every other big van is rear-drive, has its advantages as well. So which advantages work best for you?
Before Ram was Ram, it was Dodge. And Dodge's history of commercial delivery vehicle goes back to 1919 when it introduced its first half-ton panel truck. But the ProMaster is actually based on the third-generation Fiat Ducato van; a European design introduced in 2006 that's also produced in countries around the world. The significant difference between the ProMaster and all its siblings is that while the others are offered solely with four-cylinder diesel engines, the ProMaster is offered with a gas-burning V6.
In fact the ProMaster's V6 is the same Pentastar 3.6-liter 24-valve V6 offered in many Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. Rated at 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of peak torque in the ProMaster, it's hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged, 3.0-liter four-cylinder EcoDiesel four rated at 174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque is also offered with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Keep in mind that the ProMaster is a commercial vehicle. The accoutrements and comforts that can be taken for granted in a consumer-intended vehicle are either optional or missing altogether. It's usually sold as a bare shell ready to be outfitted with shelving, dog grooming equipment, a full taco kitchen or whatever.
Flexibility being vital to business users, the ProMaster is available as a plain wall cargo van, a people hauler with seats and windows, or a chassis cab or cutaway. It's also offered in half-, 3/4- and 1-ton rated chassis; with 118-, 136- and 159-inch wheelbases; and with a low- or high-roof for additional headroom. That's a lot of flexibility.
As a commercial vehicle, the EPA doesn't rate the ProMaster's mileage. But expect the EcoDiesel engine to deliver better fuel mileage, while the Pentastar V6 is likely to have better responsiveness and may have better access to fuel in far-flung locations.
Buying a commercial van is a business decision. It means making a hard-nosed choice on what's best for your needs and which vehicle can meet those needs as efficiently as possible. Edmunds is your partner in getting the right Ram ProMaster at the right price to boost your profits.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.