The 2021 Ram ProMaster full-size van hauls big, but drives small, thanks to European roots. Its relatively nimble handling and tight turning circle make it ideal for working in crowded urban areas. The voluminous cargo area is also an asset wherever the ProMaster goes.
The ProMaster is a great alternative to the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. It’s nearly as capable as either of those vans, but appreciably less expensive. The ProMaster differs from its rivals in that it has front-wheel drive, whereas the competition runs with rear-wheel drive.
The benefits of front-wheel drive are greater traction in wintry conditions (the engine’s weight presses the front wheels to the road). And no transmission tunnel, which enables a flat cargo area floor for easy loading and unloading.
What’s New for 2021?
The entry 2021 ProMaster range gains crosswind assistance as standard. This is especially useful in variants with the high roof and therefore larger side areas.
New safety options are forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
A digital rearview mirror/camera is also a newcomer to the options list. It allows drivers to see a rearward image without the ProMaster’s full-size dimensions getting in the way. It’s 9.2 inches wide and is self-dimming. See the 2021 Ram ProMaster models for sale near you
What We Like
- Class-exclusive front-wheel-drive configuration
- Huge cargo area
- High-roof body style available
- Many possible permutations
What We Don’t
- Steering wheel doesn’t adjust for height
- Competitors offer more features
Ram equips every iteration of the ProMaster with a 3.6-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission and, unusually for a commercial vehicle, front-wheel drive. This should be particularly appealing in cold climates where rear-drive vans can be tricky.
Because of its size, the ProMaster is exempt from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings. But don’t expect better than about 15 miles per gallon on average.
Standard Features and Options
The 2021 Ram ProMaster full-size van comes in a variety of configurations. Buyers can choose from low-roof, high-roof, high roof with windows, and chassis cab cutaway models. And in 1500, 2500 and 3500 form. Much like full-size pickups, these numbers indicate payload capacities. Additionally, the ProMaster offers three wheelbases of 118, 136 or 159 inches.
Many different permutations are possible, although the 118-in wheelbase comes solely in 1500/low-roof form, while the chassis cab is available only as 3500 variant.
Standard features include 16-in steel wheels, air conditioning, six airbags, crosswind assistance, power windows/locks, 5-in infotainment display, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, auxiliary audio input, audio controls on the steering wheel, and a 4-speaker sound system.
The least expensive new ProMaster is the 3500 Cutaway Low Roof with a 136-inch wheelbase ($32,135), but the regular cargo van range begins with the 1500 Low Roof /118-inch wheelbase variant ($33,235). The priciest versions begin with the 2500 Window High Roof/159-inch wheelbase version ($38,985)
Options include rear parking sensors, navigation, 9.2-inch rearview camera mirror, sliding side doors (with or without windows), heated seats, pneumatic-suspension driver’s seat, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated/power-adjustable side mirrors, overhead shelf, engine block heater, forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, fleet telematics, and a Vehicle System Interface Module (VSIM) with hard-wired inputs and outputs that makes upfitting easier (2500 and 3500 models only).
The ProMaster is offered with most of the basic safety features, from standard items such as front and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control to options such as rear parking sensors.
The 2021 model year sees the introduction of forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert as options. This latter item is particularly helpful in cargo vans without windows. The digital camera mirror is also a welcome addition.
The ProMaster hasn’t been crash tested.
Behind the Wheel
For better or worse, the Ram ProMaster’s driving position stands out. Thanks to a cab-forward design and the seat almost over the front axle, the ProMaster gives a sweeping view of the road and of the van’s front corners. Unfortunately, it’s also reminiscent of a bus. Drivers perch awkwardly above the steering wheel, which adjusts for reach, but not for height.
The 2021 ProMaster is a full-size van, and so the driving experience includes vague steering, body roll and overall dimensions that can be intimidating at times. That said, the ProMaster is certainly more maneuverable than truck-based vans from General Motors and Nissan.
Users will like the ProMaster’s low, flat load floor, which is excellent for loading and unloading cargo. And the high roof option allows adults to stand up straight in the cargo area.
Other Cars to Consider
2021 Ford Transit — The Ford Transit is built in the United States. It has great outward vision and flat, low load floor. It’s also available with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a diesel engine.
2021 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — Few vans can match the capabilities of the Sprinter. But it’s expensive, so a used example might be preferable. And if the Mercedes-Benz name seems too ritzy, it’s also sold as a Freightliner. Like the Transit, the Sprinter offers all-wheel drive and a diesel engine.
2021 Nissan NV — Nissan’s NV offers high and low roof configurations, and a capable, truck-based chassis. But it’s a lot less fuel-efficient than the ProMaster and is cumbersome to maneuver.
Questions You May Ask
Who makes the 2021 Ram ProMaster?
Based on the European Fiat Ducato van, the Ram ProMaster was designed jointly by Fiat and Ram engineers to better meet the needs of the U.S. market. It is assembled at the Fiat Chrysler plant in Saltillo, Mexico.
Is there a passenger version of the 2021 Ram ProMaster?
No. Unlike its counterparts from Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, the Ram ProMaster does not offer a passenger version. It does, however, offer a window van that can be converted by an upfitter.
How reliable is the 2021 Ram ProMaster?
According to Repairpal.com, the ProMaster ranks 18th out of 21 vans for overall reliability. It has a higher than average frequency and severity of repairs, and its warranty period isn’t as long as the Nissan NV’s.
How does the 2021 Ram ProMaster compare with the competition?
In terms of interior room, power, and roof height, the Ram ProMaster is the equal of the Ford Transit, Nissan NV and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and more modern than the Chevrolet Express van. Its front-drive layout gives it better traction than the rear-drive Ford and Nissan vans, but it lacks the option of all-wheel drive. The standard V6 is powerful but thirsty.
The 2021 Ram ProMaster has a lower base price than the other full-size alternatives, undercutting the Sprinter and Transit by a few thousand dollars.
Different buyers will have different needs, so there’s no point in recommending a specific configuration. But for buyers seeking a basic cargo van who don’t need the extra features and capabilities of the Sprinter or the Transit, the ProMaster could be a good choice. Find a Ram ProMaster for sale