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2017 Ram ProMaster 2500: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The 2017 Ram ProMaster 2500 is the middle child in Ram's lineup of ProMaster cargo vans. While most will choose the base-level ProMaster 1500, van shoppers interested in additional payload and towing capacities will want to go with a more capable 2500 or 3500 model.

So what's the ProMaster all about? For one thing, it's not really a Ram or a Dodge or even a Chrysler. Instead, it's a rebadged version of the FIAT Ducato, a popular cargo van sold in foreign markets. It does come with a Chrysler engine, but it's hard to hide the van's foreign roots. From its car-based design and resulting low load floor, to its unusual styling and unique front-wheel-drive layout, there's nothing quite like it in North America.

And how do we like it? Quite a bit, as cargo vans go. Sure, it's slow, not terribly attractive and the driving position is bus-like, but this van is all about transporting cargo, not turning heads or long-distance comfort. In that sense, the ProMaster delivers exactly as expected.

 What's New for 2017?

The ProMaster 2500 is almost completely unchanged for 2017.

 What We Like

Huge space-efficient cargo area; high-roof body style; lots of available features; fuel-efficient diesel engine; excellent capabilities

 What We Don't

Odd driving position with no tilt steering wheel; unwieldy handling; diesel engine's jerky automated manual transmission

 How Much?

$32,700-$34,300

 Fuel Economy

Like the base-level 1500 model, the ProMaster 2500 offers two engines. Standard is Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which makes 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission and, uniquely for a commercial van, front-wheel drive. This should be appealing in poor-weather areas, where rear-wheel drive vans can be a handful.

Optional is a fuel-saving 3.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder powerplant, which makes just 174 hp but has a muscular 295 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a 6-speed single-clutch automated manual, which you may find to produce jerky responses at low speed. Though the ProMaster is exempt from Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings due to its size, we'd count on about 17 miles per gallon with the gas-powered V6 and 20 mpg with the diesel.

 Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Ram ProMaster 2500 doesn't offer trim levels like most traditional models. Instead, it comes in two available wheelbases -- 136 inches and 159 inches -- both of which feature a high-roof body style for extra storage.

Priced from $32,700, each ProMaster 2500 starts off equipped about the same. Standard features include 16-in steel wheels, air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and locks, a passenger-side sliding door, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

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

 Safety

Like most cargo vans, the ProMaster 2500 isn't crash-tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's not rated by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, either.

It does offer a wide variety of safety features, from standard items such as front and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control to options including a backup camera and rear parking sensors. With that said, we'd like 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 2500 drives exactly how 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 bus. Don't take these comments too harshly, though, they could be applied to almost every other commercial vans. We say "Almost every," because you're likely to find the ProMaster far more maneuverable than the truck-based GM and Nissan vans.

The 2500 model's high-roof design can make things even more challenging, since you have to keep in mind that you can't enter every parking garage. On the other hand, it also allows for considerably more cargo space than those same truck-based vans provide, along with the ability to walk-around upright inside. We also like the low, flat load floor, which is excellent for loading cargo.

For good and bad, the ProMaster's driving position stands out. 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 the van's corners. Unfortunately, the driving position itself is reminiscent of a bus, with you perched awkwardly above its immoveable steering wheel.

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 being said, the diesel might offer enough of a fuel economy benefit to justify its additional cost and potential transmission-related annoyance.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Transit -- The Ford Transit is built in the United States and replaces the ancient Ford E-Series. It offers a very similar experience to the ProMaster -- right down to the strong visibility and flat, low load floor.

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- Few vans offer the all-out capabilities of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but it's an expensive van to buy. As such, you may want to consider a used model. And if the Mercedes-Benz name seems too ritzy for your business, remember that it's also sold as a Freightliner.

2017 Nissan NV -- Nissan's full-size NV van offers high and low roof configurations and a capable, truck-based chassis. But it's a lot less fuel-efficient than the ProMaster, and it is cumbersome to maneuver.

 Autotrader's Advice

Although we generally love diesel engines, we don't think the ProMaster's diesel powerplant is worth the money. We'd get a ProMaster 2500 with a few options and the Pentastar V6, and we'd order the long wheelbase in order to maximize our cargo-van capabilities.

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Used 2017 RAM ProMaster 2500 136" High Roof
Used 2017 RAM ProMaster
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Used 2017 RAM ProMaster 1500 136"
Used 2017 RAM ProMaster
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Used 2017 RAM ProMaster 1500 136"
Used 2017 RAM ProMaster
$20,499
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Used 2017 RAM ProMaster 1500 136"
Used 2017 RAM ProMaster
$18,489
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.
2017 Ram ProMaster 2500: New Car Review - Autotrader