Pros: Huge size; new styling; new interiors; refined powertrain
Cons: Unproven record; some buyers will prefer all- or rear-wheel drive
What's New: Completely new for the 2014 model year.
The 2014 RAM ProMaster is a full-size van offered in passenger or cargo configurations. It's larger than Chrysler's other cargo van, the RAM Cargo, a midsize Dodge Grand Caravan without rear seats or windows. The RAM ProMaster marks Chrysler's return to the full-size van market after the Mercedes Sprinter dropped its Dodge badging for the 2010 model year.
The RAM ProMaster is offered in three configurations -- a base-level 1500 model, a mid-level 2500 and a top-line 3500. The numbers don't refer to equipment, but rather capability, just like many full-size pickups. That means the ProMaster 3500 offers the most payload and hauling capacity.
Based on the European-market FIAT Ducato, the RAM ProMaster offers a few unique features among cargo vans. For one, it's only available with front-wheel drive. That's contrary to all other full-size vans, which are offered in either rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations.
The Promaster also features a standard V6, rather than a V8 like many rivals. The V6 is Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar motor, which makes 280 horsepower. It's mated to Chrysler's standard 6-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel 4-cylinder is optional. While it boasts just 175 hp, it produces a whopping 300 lb-ft of torque. That helps to boost fuel economy and towing capacity.
Owing to its new design, the RAM ProMaster offers many advanced new features. They include a ParkView backup camera, ParkSense rear-parking assist, Bluetooth and even an available touchscreen navigation system. That's a cut above many rivals, which rarely offer such cutting-edge items in full-size vans.
According to Chrysler, the 2014 RAM ProMaster 1500 starts around $29,500 with shipping. That price increases for drivers who choose the longer 136-inch wheelbase or the "high-roof" version. The ProMaster 2500 starts around $32,500, while the ProMaster 3500 is just over $36,000 before options.