It was only a matter of time before we saw Chrysler’s version of the Fiat Ducato full-size van, and today it arrived to the Chicago Auto Show as the 2014 Ram ProMaster. While it might look like an overweight UFC fighter that’s been punched in the lip by Randy Couture, the 11,500 lbs. van should provide reliable function at a competitive price.
The ProMaster revives the full-size van line Chrysler has been without since Mercedes took back the Sprinter, and will compete against the Sprinter, Chevrolet Express, Nissan NV and the (soon to be) Ford Transit — a mini-boom of vanitude after years of neglect. As of now, there's no indication a passenger version of the ProMaster will be produced, but at some point it might make sense.
Unusual for the commercial van segment, the ProMaster has a unibody construction and a front-wheel drive layout, eliminating the need for a rear driveshaft and rear differential, enabling the van to boast best-in-class fuel economy and cargo capacity. The 2014 Ram ProMaster comes with either the 3.6-liter Penstar V-6 that delivers 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, or the 3.0 liter 4 cylinder EcoDiesel that generates a solid 295 lb. ft of torque but a rather puny 174 hp.
Two roof heights and three wheelbases are available and a sliding passenger side door comes standard, with a driver’s side sliding door optional. The cargo floor can be had measuring 105, 123, 146, or 160 inches, and an available rear clamshell door swings open 260-degrees.
Given the success of the Fiat Ducato in Europe, this collaboration provides Chrysler a low-cost platform for success. If only they’d build a giant ice pack to reduce swelling on that preposterous front lip.
- Randy Couture