New Car Review

2015 Ram ProMaster 1500: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2014

The 2015 Ram ProMaster 1500 marks Chrysler's second year back in the cargo van business, following a hiatus that lasted since the brand dropped its Dodge Ram Van in 2003. Oh, sure, there were a few years where the Sprinter -- now a Mercedes-Benz -- was sold as a Dodge, but the ProMaster is all Chrysler.

Except that it's actually a FIAT. You see, the ProMaster comes to the United States courtesy of Chrysler's parent company, FIAT, who sells the van overseas as the Ducato. In the U.S., it's marketed as a Ram and offered with a simplified lineup and additional equipment. It also feels more carlike than the old Ram Van, trading in brute force and a truck-based chassis for improved gas mileage and a lower load floor.

So, how do we like it? Quite a bit, as cargo vans go. Sure, it's slow, it's not terribly attractive and its handling is mediocre, but this van is all about transporting cargo, not turning heads or carving corners. In that sense, the ProMaster delivers exactly as expected.

What's New for 2015?

Following the van's 2014 release, the ProMaster is largely unchanged for 2015. The biggest update is a new, smaller model, called the ProMaster City (covered in a separate review), which joins the lineup for the latest model year.

What We Like

Huge interior; lots of available features; fuel-efficient diesel engine; excellent capabilities

What We Don't

No tilt steering wheel; 1500 model lacks 159-inch wheelbase; blind spot monitoring system would help

How Much?

$29,500-$31,300

Fuel Economy

The ProMaster offers two engines. Standard is Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which makes 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a fuel-saving 3.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder powerplant, which makes just 174 hp but a muscular 295 lb-ft of torque. Though the ProMaster is exempt from the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy ratings due to its size, we would guess that it gets about 15 miles per gallon with the gas-powered V6 and 18 mpg with the diesel.

Standard Features & Options

Although the 2015 Ram ProMaster 1500 doesn't offer trim levels, it comes in three available configurations: a low-roof model with a 118-in wheelbase, a low-roof model with a 136-in wheelbase and a high-roof model with a 136-in wheelbase.

Priced from $29,500 with shipping, each trim level comes with about the same equipment. Standard features include 16-in steel wheels, air conditioning, keyless entry, a USB and auxiliary port for music, power windows, power locks and a sliding door on the passenger side.

The ProMaster is also offered with a wide range of options. They include rear parking sensors, a navigation system, a backup camera, heated seats, a sliding door on the driver's side, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and alloy wheels.

Safety

Like most cargo vans, the ProMaster isn't crash-tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it's not rated by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, either.

The ProMaster offers a variety of safety features, including standard items such as front and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control, and options such as a backup camera and rear parking sensors. We'd love to see a few more safety features available on the ProMaster, including a blind spot monitoring system, which can be a huge help on windowless cargo vans.

Behind the Wheel

The Ram ProMaster drives just like it looks: like a huge van. That means vague steering, lots of body roll and an overall size that sometimes makes you question whether you're driving a privately owned vehicle or a full-size bus. Don't take these comments too harshly, though, as they could be applied to just about any full-size cargo van on the market.

Where the ProMaster stands out is its driving position. Thanks to a cab-forward design with the seat almost over the front axle, the ProMaster gives you a sweeping view of the road and an easy view of the van's corners, which comes in handy when you're parking it. This helps to compensate slightly for the van's otherwise huge width and length.

When it comes to engine performance, we suspect most shoppers will prefer the V6. It's a more traditional engine with a more traditional transmission, and capabilities are about the same as the diesel. With that said, the diesel might offer enough of a fuel economy benefit to justify its additional cost.

In terms of capabilities, the ProMaster both impresses and disappoints us. We like the low, flat load floor, which is excellent for loading cargo. We also love the high-roof and low-roof options, which aren't available on all the ProMaster's competitors. We also think the van's maneuverability could be a little better, as it seems to be a bit more unwieldy than some rivals.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Transit -- The all-new Ford Transit is built in the U.S. and replaces the dated Ford E-Series. It offers a very similar experience to the ProMaster, right down to its strong visibility and flat, low load floor.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- Few vans offer the all-out capabilities of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- but it's an expensive van to buy.

Nissan NV -- Nissan's full-size NV van offers high- and low-roof configurations and a capable, truck-based chassis. It's a lot less fuel-efficient than the ProMaster, and it's driving experience is mediocre.

AutoTrader's Advice

Although we generally love diesel engines, we don't think the ProMaster's diesel powerplant is worth the money. We would get a ProMaster 1500 with a few options and the Pentastar V6. We'd also order a high-roof configuration and the 136-in wheelbase, just to maximize our cargo-carrying capabilities.

Find a Ram ProMaster 1500 for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ram ProMaster 1500: New Car Review - Autotrader