Although van life has been popular for several years now, recently, camping has exploded as more people move away from cities and work remotely. Some people choose RVs and trailers already built for camping, but those who don’t want to feel tied to RV parks tend to convert a van. You’re more likely to see camper vans in the wilderness or a beach parking lot, and that’s the van life lifestyle that attracts so many people to camper vans.
Vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, Nissan NV, and the Ram ProMaster are common camper vans’ common choices. Let’s take a look at the Ram ProMaster.
Why the Ram ProMaster is a camper van candidate
The Ram Promaster comes in so many configurations — 13 — that you can probably find one that matches what you want in a camper van. With different roof heights, wheelbases, vehicle lengths, body types, and engines (280 hp 3.6-liter gas or older-model-only 174 hp 3.0-liter turbo diesel), there’s a lot to consider.
Compared to other vans in this class, the Ram ProMaster is unique in having a front-wheel-drive with automatic transmission. The reason for this was to give the van a lower floor and more space to make it the ideal cargo van.
These qualities can also make it a good choice for a camper van conversion, although you might not be able to tow as much as the other vans. The ProMaster’s standard engine provides 258 to 295 lb-ft of torque, compared to the Nissan NV’s 281 to 387 lb-ft or the Ford Transit’s 262 to 400 lb-ft. The ProMaster can manage a 5,145-lb payload, which is something to keep in mind during a conversion build.
Inside, the Ram ProMaster gives you anywhere from 259 to 463 cubic feet of space. Depending on the roof you choose, you can have an interior height of 65 or 76 inches. Most people would be able to stand up inside with the ProMaster’s tall roof. The tall ProMaster might not clear every parking garage, but it would get into most drive-throughs. Some camper van builders appreciate that the ProMaster is 5.5 inches wider than the Sprinter as far as width.
One thing that may propel the ProMaster ahead of its peers for a camper van conversion is its price. You still have money for the conversion because it’s a lower-priced van between $30,000-$40,000. Custom camper van conversions can cost as much as or more than the vehicle itself, so a van’s price is considered.
Is the Ram ProMaster reliable as a camper van?
Since the ProMaster debuted in 2014, it has received some upgrades that have been both cosmetic and functional. Most noticeably, Ram increased the payload and towing capacity. This has improved its use as a camper van, as weight is an essential consideration in recreational vehicles.
However, the ProMaster may still have issues as far as the ride goes. Some people have complained about the driver’s seat sitting up too high or perceivably at an odd angle.
Although the reliability of newer ProMaster vans might have improved, van owners’ consensus is that the ProMaster may not be as reliable as its peers. On the positive side, repairs and parts are easier to come by than the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Some auto reviews find the reliability just fine, so depending on who you ask, reliability may not be a problem.
While the ProMaster may have its downsides, its low, flat floor and affordability make it a good starting point for a custom camper van build so you can be on your way to van life dreams.