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2014 Ram ProMaster First Impressions

Looks clearly don't matter By ,

When you're this versatile, you can get away with having a mug like Homer Simpson. Looks aside, the working cargo van is a growing segment here in North America, having long been a European commercial mainstay.

What is the 2014 Ram ProMaster?
The ProMaster is built on Fiat's Ducato platform, which has been one of the most successful European commercial vehicles for over 30 years, with over 4.5 million sold. The first collaboration between the Fiat Professional and Chrysler Ram teams, the ProMaster is adapted to meet our safety and emissions standards. With class-exclusive front-wheel drive configuration, the ProMaster's lack of driveshaft and differential give it the segment's lowest load floor.

2014 Ram ProMaster Price and Specs
Available in regular and heavy duty, the 2014 ProMaster offers two roof heights, three wheelbase lengths, and four body lengths. Chassis cab or cutaway can also be specified.

Ram ProMaster 1500 prices range from $32,495 - $40,495; ProMaster 2500 from $35,495 to $42,495; and ProMaster 3500 $31,495 - $38,495.

There are two powertrains: the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 280 hp and 258 lb-ft paired with a 6-speed auto, and the all-new 3.0L EcoDiesel with 174 hp and 295 lb-ft paired with an automated manual transmission.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) for the V6 is 5,216kg (11,500lb) and 5,670kg (12,500lb) for diesel-equipped vehicles.

Driving the 2014 Ram ProMaster
This is a decidedly odd vehicle. There's much to recommend, yet there are several factors against, as well. For a working vehicle, presumably to be used by large men, the leg space is really quite restrictive. Several colleagues found their legs pressed against the console area, and one tall fellow's head actually pressed against the ceiling of the 2014 Ram ProMaster.

The 36.3-foot turning radius of the short wheelbase is amazing, rivalling a car's manoeuvrability. The V6 we drove is instantly responsive, surprisingly light on its wheels, and has a backup camera, huge mirrors, and windows in both partition and rear doors to aid visibility.

Neither my tall driving partner nor I could adjust the steering wheel to a comfortable position in the 2014 Ram ProMaster. Telescoping, but not tilting, it’s rather flat, plate-like awkwardness is magnified by the spokes which make the proper 9-and-3 hand position impossible.

However, the ProMaster handles very well with none of the ponderousness usually associated with a commercial vehicle. The tiny little Navigation system works well, and is an unexpected bonus in the segment.

The cargo area is positively voluminous in height, thanks to a frame that doesn't have to sit on top of the transmission, driveline and differential. The 2014 Ram ProMaster's load floor is 7" lower than its nearest competitor, and it's the only one in its segment to accommodate a loaded pallet from either side or rear doors.

With its tight turning ability, the Ram ProMaster is the most at home on busy streets - an important factor for the busy contractor with multiple deliveries.

Fuel economy ratings aren't available yet, but Ram claims the ProMaster will be "best in segment." U.S. estimates put it in the 20mpg range or 11.7L/100km.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Ram ProMaster
The ProMaster adheres to the slab-sided form-over-function school of style, but then none of its competitors is a beauty contestant, either. Any front-end components that could be expensive to replace are located high above the bumper, out of harm's way. The front fascia features indented steps, making it easier to clean the windshield, change wipers or access headlights. The front bumper's three-piece design allows for individual repair or replacement in case of damage.

Rear doors open 260-degrees to fold almost flat against its sides.

Inside is basic utilitarian, designed as a workspace. Chairs are wide and flat, there is cubby space overhead, and the cabin boasts an astounding nine cup holders. Unlike the Sprinter's totally flat dash featuring several partitioned spaces, the 2014 Ram ProMaster's slopes steeply away, rendering it useless for clipboards, cellphones, and such.

The Ram ProMaster's cargo area is designed to be "upfitter friendly" with available partitions, storage cabinetry, and up to 17 tie-downs.

Comparing the 2014 Ram ProMaster
This has become a popular segment with the ProMaster priced mid-pack in a group that includes the Ford Transit ($29,199), Nissan NV Cargo ($32,728), Chevy Express/GMC Savana ($33,635), and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter at the top ($45,895).
 

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