2016 Ram Promaster Window Van Review
Pros & Cons
- Massive interior room
- low step-in height
- available fuel-efficient diesel engine.
- Steering wheel doesn't offer tilt adjustment
- only comes in one roof height.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Thanks to its sensible European roots, the 2016 Ram ProMaster full-size van is a strong choice for buyers needing to haul passengers or cargo thanks to its space-efficient design, user-friendly interior and solid powertrain choices.
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 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 has a tall but tidy profile that maximizes cargo and passenger volume and permits occupants to stand upright inside the van. The ProMaster Window Van is essentially the passenger-van counterpart to the ProMaster Cargo Van (reviewed separately), but Ram sells it like a cargo van with only a pair of front seats and, as its name suggests, windows all around. Buyers then modify the van to suit their needs, whether it's hauling passengers or equipment. A high roof is standard, and for 2016, Ram is offering two versions: a medium-duty 2500 version with a 159-inch wheelbase and a heavier-duty 3500 model with the same wheelbase but a longer body and an impressive 463 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
One of the most distinctive things about the ProMaster 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 full-size van users, though, and in this regard, the ProMaster is just as stout as the competition, with a load rating of 4,280 pounds on properly equipped 3500 models. 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.
Likely the biggest downside for commercial buyers is the ProMaster's limited number of configurations. You should also keep in mind that it's not equipped like rival passenger vans (with multiple rows of rear seating) so you must purchase seats through an upfitter. In contrast, the Ford Transit comes in three available roof heights and offers three available engines along with a long list of factory-installed technology features. It's more expensive than the ProMaster, though, as is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which only comes in a 2500 model but offers two different diesel engines and two roof heights. The Nissan NV represents a more affordable alternative in this class. It only comes in a 3500 version, but it's one of the few remaining full-size vans to offer a V8 engine.
Although the Ford is likely the best overall van in this class, especially if you're looking to buy a passenger van with factory seating, the spacious 2016 Ram ProMaster might be a great value for the right buyer. It's a thoughtfully designed van that benefits from Fiat's decades of experience in the commercial van market, and its bare interior is basically a blank canvas that you can modify to suit your needs.
2016 Ram Promaster Window Van models
The 2016 Ram ProMaster Window Van comes in 2500 and 3500 versions. Both have a high roof (allowing adults to stand up inside the van) and a 159-inch wheelbase, but the 3500 version also has an extended-length body (it's 250 inches long versus 236 for the 2500 van). Only front seats are provided, as Ram expects owners to outfit the van to their needs.
Standard features 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 audio 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, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, cruise control, 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, underseat storage tray and locking glovebox), the Cargo Convenience group (cargo net and sidewall tie-down rings) and a towing package.
Performance & mpg
Standard on the Ram ProMaster Window Van 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 turbodiesel four-cylinder engine 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 Ram can handle payloads of up to 3,930 pounds on the 2500 version and 4,280 on the 3500. Both vans can tow up to 5,100 pounds. The ProMaster's payload capacity is competitive for the class, but its tow rating is significantly lower than rear-wheel-drive competitors' ratings.
Commercial vans like the 2016 Ram ProMaster Window 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 Window Van 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 ProMaster'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 an 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 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 decades of Fiat's 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 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. There are plenty of well-placed storage areas and cupholders.
The ProMaster Window Van can swallow either 420 cubic feet of cargo in the 2500 version or 463 in the 3500 version. Even by full-size van standards, this is a vast amount of space to fill with cargo, passengers or customized upfitter components. Rear doors with windows are standard, and the windows are helpful in viewing traffic or potential obstructions to the rear. That said, the optional rearview camera and rear parking sensors are still money well spent on a vehicle this large.