FIAT Chrysler Automobiles’ entry into the full-size cargo van segment, the 2020 Ram ProMaster, is a rebadged version of the FIAT Ducato cargo van offered throughout Europe. FCA engineers have Americanized it to a degree, but most of its Old World roots still show through in things like its unique (for its segment) front-wheel drive (FWD) layout.
The ProMaster hauls big, but drives small thanks to these European roots. Its surprisingly nimble handling and maneuverability make it an ideal work platform for 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 its voluminous cargo area will get the job done on just about any trip, short or long. Additionally, the ProMaster’s FWD architecture allows for a low cargo floor with easy loading and unloading of whatever you are carrying.
What’s New for 2020?
Not a whole lot changes with these vans year-over-year. For 2020, the ProMaster can be had with a factory-installed trailer hitch offering a maximum towing capacity of up to 6,800 pounds. Additionally, a trio of new 136-in wheelbase Cargo Van models enter the fray in 2500 standard roof, 3500 standard roof and 3500 high roof configurations. See the 2020 Ram ProMaster models for sale near you
What We Like
- Segment-exclusive FWD architecture
- Huge space-efficient cargo area
- Available high-roof body style
- Loads of available configurations
What We Don’t
- Lack of available active safety tech
- No tilt steering wheel
- Competitors offer more features
Ram offers one engine in the ProMaster: A 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 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 particularly in cold climates where rear-wheel drive (RWD) vans can be a handful. A diesel has been offered in the past, but the engine’s status seems to be up in the air for 2020.
Because the ProMaster is exempt from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings due to its size, there are no official government mileage estimates, but we wouldn’t expect better than about 15 miles per gallon overall.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 ProMaster doesn’t offer formal trim levels, but it does offer a variety of configurations based on the following variables. While each one uses the same 3.6-liter V6 engine, buyers can choose from 1500, 2500 and 3500 models. Much like full-size pickups, these numbers indicate the van’s capabilities with regard to payload capacities. Your local dealer can likely tell you which one is best for you based on your specific needs.
Additionally, the ProMaster is offered in three different wheelbases: 118-in, 136-in and 159-in.
Finally, in terms of overall body style, the ProMaster can be had in low-roof, high-roof and chassis cab cutaway models.
Overall, a lot of different configurations are available, although certain options drop off as you move to different body styles, e.g., the 118-in wheelbase is only available in low-roof 1500 form while the chassis cab is only available in 3500 configuration.
Standard features include 16-in steel wheels, air conditioning, six airbags, keyless entry, power windows and locks, FCA’s Uconnect 3.0 system with a 5-in display, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Available options 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.
The ProMaster isn’t crash-tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nor is it rated by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The ProMaster is offered with most of the basic safety features we’ve come to expect on a vehicle designed this decade, 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 active safety features made available on the ProMaster — including automatic emergency braking and a blind spot monitoring system, which is particularly helpful on windowless cargo vans. Worth noting: The Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter both offer all of these features and more.
Behind the Wheel
The 2020 Ram ProMaster drives exactly how you’d expect a huge van to drive. That means vague steering, lots of body roll and an overall size that can at times be intimidating. Don’t take these comments too harshly, though, as these lumbering dynamics apply to just about every commercial van currently on sale. That said, the ProMaster is certainly far more maneuverable than the truck-based vans offered by 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 of the van’s corners. Unfortunately, the driving position itself is reminiscent of a bus, with drivers perched awkwardly above its steering wheel, which telescopes, but doesn’t tilt.
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 — once you’re able to stand upright in the back of a cargo van, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to function while hunched over for all those years.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 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. The Transit is available with additional comfort and safety features not offered on the ProMaster, and all-wheel drive (AWD), which is a new addition for 2020.
2020 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. Like the Transit, the Sprinter offers comfort and safety features not available on the ProMaster, in addition to optional all-wheel drive and a diesel engine.
2020 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.
The ProMaster is a great alternative to the RWD full-size vans offered by Ford and Mercedes-Benz. It’s nearly as capable as either of those options despite riding on a FWD platform, which makes it more maneuverable in tight spaces while being less of a liability in inclimate weather. It also offers a lower base price than either of the other full-size options, undercutting the Sprinter and Transit by a few thousand dollars. We can’t really recommend a specific configuration here, as different buyers will have different needs. Altogether though, if you’re looking for a basic reliable cargo van and don’t need the extra features and added capability of the Sprinter or Transit, the ProMaster presents a great overall value. Find a Ram ProMaster for sale