2017 Ram Promaster Window Van Review
Pros & Cons
- Front-wheel-drive configuration offers improved low-traction performance and tight turning radius
- Great forward visibility
- Massive interior room with up to 4,280 pounds of payload capacity
- low step-in height
- available fuel-efficient diesel engine
- Less towing capacity than other full-size vans
- Unrefined ride quality, even for a van
- No steering tilt adjustment impedes comfortable driving position
- only comes in one roof height
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2017 Ram ProMaster Window Van is the passenger-carrying counterpart of the ProMaster Cargo Van (reviewed separately). It's based on the European Ducato, a commercial van known for its easy driving manners, lower maintenance costs and durability. But what's probably most surprising is its front-wheel-drive architecture, which competes in a class that essentially consists of all rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
Lighter, narrower and taller, the 2017 Ram ProMaster maximizes cargo and passenger volume and permits occupants to stand upright inside the van. What further separates the ProMaster from other passenger vans is 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 through an upfitter to suit their needs, whether it's hauling passengers or equipment. The high roof is standard with either the medium-duty 2500 version or the heavier-duty 3500 model. Both share a 159-inch wheelbase, though the 3500 has a longer body for more potential seating options.
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-wheel-drive setup is the Ram's lower tow rating compared with rivals, though payload capacity is usually more important for most drivers of full-size vans. 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, and 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 and the extra step of configuring things, such as 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. A slightly more expensive option is the the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which only comes in a 2500 model but offers two different diesel engines, wheelbase lengths and roof heights. The Nissan NV is 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 (a V6 is also available). Overall, though, the spacious Ram ProMaster is still a great value for the right buyer, offering a blank canvas with which to work, and holds specific advantages with its unique front-wheel-drive layout.
Standard safety features for the 2017 Ram ProMaster Window Van include front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock disc brakes, hill start assist, stability control (with trailer sway control and rollover mitigation) and traction control. Optional features include rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
2017 Ram Promaster Window Van models
The 2017 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. The 3500 version, however, also has an extended-length body (it's 250 inches long versus 236 inches 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 oddly 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 and 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 leather-wrapped steering wheel, interior wall paneling and various add-ons aimed at upfitters. 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.
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. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine is optional, with 174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It is also paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
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 such as the 2017 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.
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 2017 Ram ProMaster's driver seat, and you get further encouragement from the van's light steering and relatively compact turning circle. For a full-size van, the ProMaster is easy to maneuver, even in city traffic.
As far as available engines go, we like both them. The standard 3.6-liter gasoline V6 comes straight from Chrysler's car lineup, so it's smooth and quiet. The turbodiesel engine is geared toward efficiency and packs lots of low-end torque, which equals solid 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 suitable vigor. The diesel engine 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 theme for the 2017 Ram ProMaster Window Van's interior, with controls and instruments based on decades of Fiat's experience with commercial vans. The ProMaster's gauges are large and clear, with a multifunction display centered between the speedometer and tachometer. Climate controls are straightforward, with a three-knob layout for temperature, fan speed and directional control.
Audio controls are mounted high on the dash, which could mean some people will have to lean forward and over to reach them. An optional 5-inch Uconnect touchscreen audio system could be 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 adjustment for the steering wheel might prevent some from finding an optimal driving position. However, there are plenty of well-placed storage areas and cupholders.
Windows in the rear doors are standard and helpful for rear visibility in traffic or maneuvering to park. Even so, the optional rearview camera and rear parking sensors are still a good idea, especially for a vehicle this large.