Reviews

2014 Ram ProMaster Driving Impressions


The ProMaster feels surprisingly lively with the gas V6 because it has plenty of horsepower, short gearing and doesn’t weigh much more than a Chrysler van or Ram 2WD pickup that share the engine. In a suburban jaunt through lightly trafficked, moderate-speed roads it averaged 18 mpg by trip computer, but fuel economy will vary widely by driver, application and engine.

There is a smidgen of torque steer but nothing that requires two hands or a firm grip, and it works through the gears seamlessly. (Torque steer is common on front-wheel-drive vehicles and is often felt as a tug on the steering wheel when accelerating hard and turning at the same time, for example turning right at an intersection.) Interstate travel wasn’t on our agenda but higher speeds tended to generate more wind and road noise than mechanical.

The diesel engine will be offered a little later than the van’s debut. It offers more low-rpm torque than the gas engine (295 lb-ft at 1400 rpm) and in other markets averages in the 25-30 U.S. mpg range. It will come with an automated 6-speed transmission: a manual gearbox which does the clutch and shifting action for you. BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and others have sold cars with the same type of transmission so it’s not unproven.

Maneuverability is a ProMaster forte, the middle-length wheelbase able to execute a U-turn in less than 41 feet. It steers easily and generally goes where you point. Brembo brakes felt stout and required little pedal effort, but given we were allowed to drive with 1200 pounds of load in back we never asked for max effort.

The ride was better with that load (about 1/3 of rated maximum) but still firm and controlled. You can sense you’re up higher and the vehicle is taller than it is wide, but in the unlikely event you manage to override all the stability systems and knock one over, the slab sides will stop it.

Our suspicion is that best loading puts heavier cargo just ahead of the rear axle line; some versions have enough length that putting it all by the back door will make it feel like an unbalanced trailer was added. The ProMaster can tow up to 5,100 pounds, won’t need a big ball-mount drop, and does have trailer-sway control logic in its stability program, but we found no mention of an integrated trailer brake controller and would recommend brakes on any trailer more than 500-1000 pounds regardless of state requirements. As always, follow the manufacturer’s requirements.

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