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2019 Ram ProMaster 1500 Review

Ram’s take on a cargo van, the 2019 Ram ProMaster 1500 is really closely related to a FIAT cargo van rolling around the streets of Europe. Ram product specialists and engineers have Americanized it, of course, but some of its Old World roots show in things like its unique (for its segment) front-wheel drive.

It hauls big, but drives small. Its surprisingly nimble handling and maneuverability make it an ideal work platform in crowded urban areas. It may not be overly handsome, but it’s a workhorse that’s right at home in the city. We’d never voluntarily drive it on a 500-mile trip, but appreciate its cargo capacity. And, its FWD makes for a low cargo floor with easy loading and unloading of whatever you are carrying.

What’s New for 2019?

Unless it’s a full-blown redesign, not much happens to vehicles in this segment from year to year. For the Ram Promaster, though, payload is increased to 4,000 pounds. Available Fleet Telematics with usage tracking, driver behavior and vehicle diagnostics and performance data. A Vehicle System Interface Module (VSIM) allowing the interface of multiple systems without disturbing the wiring is also an option. See the 2019 Ram Promaster models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Huge space-efficient cargo area
  • Available 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?

$32,340-$35,040

Fuel Economy

Ram offers one engine in the ProMaster 1500: A 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, that makes 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission and, unique to a commercial van, FWD. This should be appealing in poor weather areas where rear-wheel-drive vans can be a handful.

Because the ProMaster is exempt from Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings due to its size, there are no official government mileage estimates, but we’d count on about 15 miles per gallon.

Standard Features & Options

Although the 2019 Ram ProMaster 1500 doesn’t offer trim levels, it comes in three available configurations: There’s a low-roof model with an 118-in wheelbase, a low-roof model with a 136-in wheelbase and a high-roof model with a 136-in wheelbase. There’s a longer wheelbase available on the 2500 and 3500 versions, which are reviewed separately.

Priced from $32,340 with shipping, each configuration is equipped about the same. Standard features include 16-in steel wheels, air conditioning, six airbags, keyless entry, power windows and locks, and Uconnect 3.0 with a 5-in display, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

The ProMaster is also offered with a wide range of options. They include rear parking sensors, a navigation system, sliding side doors, a backup camera, heated seats, cruise control, rear park assist, Fleet Telematics, VSIM and alloy wheels.

Safety

Like most cargo vans, the ProMaster isn’t crash-tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nor is it rated by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But it offers a wide variety of safety features, from standard items such as front and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control to options such as a backup camera and rear parking sensors. 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 2019 Ram ProMaster drives exactly as 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 can be applied to almost every other commercial van. "Almost every," because you’re likely to find the ProMaster to be far more maneuverable than the truck-based vans from General Motors and Nissan.

For better or worse, 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 steering wheel that telescopes, but doesn’t tilt.

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 its capabilities are about the same as the diesel’s. With that being said, the diesel might offer enough of a fuel economy benefit to justify its additional cost and potential transmission-related annoyance.

In terms of capabilities, we like the ProMaster’s low, flat load floor, which is excellent for loading cargo. We also love the high roof option, which isn’t available on all the ProMaster’s competitors. Once you’re able to walk around inside the back of a cargo van, you’ll wonder how you hunched and crawled around all those years.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 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.

2019 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.

2019 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’s cumbersome to maneuver.

Autotrader’s Advice

Even though diesel engines tend to return most, if not all, of their extra cost upon resale, we would still recommend the V6. We would go with the 2019 Ram ProMaster with the Pentastar V6, an option or two like the sliding doors and cruise control. We’d opt for the high-roof configuration and 136-in wheelbase to maximize cargo room. Find a Ram Promaster 1500 for sale

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