It’s a pretty general consensus: the ProMaster cargo van doesn’t have much going for it. If you want something cheap and mildly competitive in its class, the Ram ProMaster cargo van is your dream come true. But if you want a van that handles well enough to actually enjoy driving, you’ll want something else–– like the Ford Transit.
Vanlife––whether for a weekend or a year––is ever growing in popularity. The freedom of a little cabin tucked safely inside a panel van is hard to find elsewhere. I’ve spent plenty of time roaming around the U.S. in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that has clocked over 350,000 miles, and I can say from experience that these vans aren’t just for work––they’re for play, too. The Ram ProMaster is one of the three most prominent van choices out there for recreation and work, but it doesn’t hold up that well to the competition.
The Ram ProMaster
The Ram Promaster doesn’t get any style points for its exterior. Car and Driver While this may not be a priority for the working class vans, there are definitely some others that will look way cuter in your Instagram posts. But I suppose looks are just a matter of preference. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details.
Let’s see a little run down of the powertrain. If you want a diesel, you’ll have to go back a production year. As of 2020, the Ram ProMaster is absent of a diesel option. This makes a lot of past comparisons like this one that Car and Driver performed for the 2015 model year irrelevant to modern models.
The Ram van engine
For 2020, the Ram ProMaster has a 3.6-liter V6 engine, according to Edmunds. This engine generates plenty of horsepower––280 horsepower, in fact. But its clunky and reluctant 6-speed transmission moves through the gears with lurching difficulty. The 280 horsepower hardly even gets noticed, because the ride just feels too complicated. Even the Ram truck platform with its specialized rear suspension does little to improve ride quality.
Not only does the ProMaster lack the diesel engine option, but it’s also missing the option to upgrade to AWD. The Transit and the Sprinter, on the other hand, both have the option for 4×4. Depending on what kind of tires you invest in, this can be a vanlife game changer.
Work van standard features?
It largely lacks in available standard tech and safety features. The ProMaster is little more than a be-wheeled metal box equipped with an engine. Rivals such as the Ford Transit offer far more amenities in terms of driver-assist technology. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter even has a sunroof. The Ram ProMaster is also devoid of luxuries such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Because work is serious, and FCA can’t let you have too much fun on the way to that job site.
How much is a Ram ProMaster?
A Ram ProMaster has the cheapest starting price between the three vans, according to Car and Driver. The Mercedes-Benz is––spoiler alert––the most expensive. You can have a worker Benz for a price ranging through several trim levels starting at $35,690 and topping out at $50,190. A 2020 Ford Transit will cost from $36,005-$38,215. Our cheapest panel van starting price is the Ram ProMaster at $32,184 and miraculously tops out at over 40 grand. Still, its base price is the cheapest. So at least the ProMaster has one thing going for it.
You get what you pay for
There is absolutely no getting around the fact that the Ram ProMaster is a work vehicle. This might be a time when we could actually appreciate a vehicle trying to act like something it isn’t. The ProMaster may be the cheapest of these three cargo vans, but you get what you pay for.
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