By William Maley
Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
February 8, 2013
The old cargo van guards are being replaced with a new flock of new commercial vehicles from Europe, like the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and now Ram. At the Chicago Auto Show, Ram introduced the new 2014 ProMaster.
The ProMaster is the North American version of the Fiat Ducato van which means it has a unibody construction with a front-wheel-drive layout. Not quite the recipe you would expect for a commercial van.
Chrysler has made numerous changes to the ProMaster to make it more friendly to the North American market. For starters you have the choice of two different engines. The base is Chrysler's 3.6L Pentastar V6 producing 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque that's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. There is also a 3.0L inline-four EcoDiesel producing 174 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque that's paired with a six-speed electronically controlled automated manual gearbox.
Under the skin, the ProMaster has re-engineered chassis, a more robust suspension setup, and two-piston Brembo calipers at each wheel.
Ram has made sure to make the ProMaster very versatile. To that end, Ram will be offering the ProMaster two roof heights, three wheelbases and four body lengths. You'll also have the choice between cargo, chassis cab, and cutaway body styles.
Other versatility tricks the ProMaster has include hinged rear doors open up 260 degrees, cargo space that measures up to 530 cubic feet, tie down rings built into the floor of the cargo area, and the option of dual sliding side doors.
Production of the ProMaster will begin in the third quarter.
Press Release is on Page 2
2014 Ram ProMaster
New 2014 Ram ProMaster Expands Ram Commercial Offerings with New Full-size Van Featuring Best-in-class Fuel Economy, Cargo Capacity and Payload
• 2014 Ram ProMaster puts Ram Truck back into the expanding, purpose-built, full-size van segment with best-in-class features focused on the commercial customer
• New 2014 Ram ProMaster van developed from the successful, long-standing Fiat Ducato: 30-plus years of reliable service and more than 4.5 million units sold
• Exceptional cargo capability, durability, a unique front-wheel-drive system and outstanding uptime
• Ram ProMaster is a purpose-built, highly customizable van designed to exceed the demands of commercial customers
• ProMaster best-in-class features:
♣ Fuel economy
♣ Cargo capacity
♣ Total cost of ownership
♣ Turning radius
♣ Interior ceiling height
♣ Step-in height
• North American debut of world-class, torque-rich 3.0-liter I-4 EcoDiesel promises best-in-class fuel efficiency, robust capability and long service intervals
• 280-horsepower output from award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 unmatched among Ram ProMaster competitors
• Proven 62TE six-speed automatic transmission enhanced to suit unique ProMaster application
• North American-first automated six-speed manual controlled by software that responds to road conditions
• Best-in-class powertrain warranty – 5 years/100,000 miles
• New Ram ProMaster combines functionality and versatility with modern styling and professional appeal
• Ram ProMaster offers more than 35 safety and security features, including six air bags standard and electronic stability control technologies
The new 2014 Ram ProMaster is Ram Commercial's latest addition to its popular commercial vehicle lineup. ProMaster takes its place in the expanding, purpose-built, full-size van segment with a number of best-in-class features focused on the commercial customer. Coming from a strong background of commercial vehicles produced by Fiat Professional, the ProMaster is based on the Fiat Ducato, which has been in production for more than 30 years. ProMaster boasts numerous best-in-class features that are appreciated by the hard-working customers of Ram's new van. Best-in-class fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, usability and of course total cost of ownership all combine to deliver a proven solution for businesses and fleets.
"As Ram takes a larger presence in the commercial truck market, the 2014 Ram ProMaster is a great addition, contributing to a one-stop shop of commercial-duty Ram trucks and vans," said Fred Diaz, President and CEO - Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC. "The ProMaster answers to key segment demands with best-in-class features, quality, durability, capability and low total cost of ownership."
Ram Truck is tapping into Fiat Professional, one of the largest producers of commercial vehicles in the entire world, offering more than 110 years of experience. That knowledge will help Ram Truck enter new segments and expand its product line. The new 2014 Ram ProMaster is based on the front-wheel-drive Fiat Ducato, which is the most popular full-size van in Europe. The 2013 Ram ProMaster is the Company's first shared truck collaboration with Fiat Professional.
The Fiat Ducato is now in its third generation with more than 4.5 million sold worldwide. The Ducato platform offers Ram a proven, award-winning workhorse with an incredible combination of durability, value, efficiency, and capability like no other in its class. Additionally, the ProMaster is the only offering in its competitive set to provide both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory.
Engineered for the North American market
Conceived and developed in Italy, Ram's new van also spent quality time proving itself on this side of the Atlantic undergoing extensive, extreme-duty testing to prepare for its North American debut as the Ram ProMaster. Engineering the new ProMaster for the Ram Truck brand required a number of changes for new capabilities, powertrains, environments, duty cycles and customers.
The 2014 ProMaster is available in two roof heights, three wheelbases, and four body lengths. Additionally, the ProMaster offers both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory. Its unibody frame architecture makes it significantly lighter than the competition. As a result, the ProMaster boasts an impressive best-in-class payload capacity up to 5,145 pounds and a maximum towing capacity up to 5,100 pounds. The gross combined weight rating (GCWR) for the 3.6-liter V-6 is 11,500 pounds and 12,500 pounds for the 3.0-liter I-4 EcoDiesel. A unibody structural has additional advantages, including stability and strength from front to rear, a reinforced plenum area for optimized engine packaging, and "truer" tuning of chassis systems and related hardware when compared to more common body-on-frame applications.
The unibody system under the cab is an enabler for the ProMaster's segment exclusive front-wheel-drive system. The body-integral construction and multiple configurations allow Ram's new 2014 ProMaster to be up-fitted for virtually every conceivable job. Without rear driveshafts or rear differentials, the proven drive system creates a number of advantages:
• Best-in-class fuel economy
• Best-in-class cargo capacity
• Best-in-class step-in height and lowest load floor
• Best-in-class ceiling height
• Overall weight reduction and lower maintenance costs
Thanks to its unique front-drive system, body-integral construction and the multiple of configurations offered, Ram's new 2014 ProMaster can be upfit for virtually every conceivable commercial need. Proportionally, the ProMaster brings a new standard to the large commercial van-based segment. The ProMaster is available in two roof heights, 90 or 101 inches with best-in-class standard roof height and the most vertically oriented side walls in the cargo van category (nearly 90 degrees in relation to the cargo compartment floor).
The ProMaster features a standard sliding door on the passenger side with an optional sliding door on the driver's side. The sliding door openings are based on roof height – 49 inch x 60 inch for the low roof model and 49 inch x 70 inch for high roof models. In the rear, an available two-position rear clamshell door swings open up to 260-degrees, folding almost flat to the side of the van. All three door openings enable fork lift pallet loading and unloading, and spaciousness that leads the competitive set.
Ram Truck is well known for being the most upfitter-friendly brand in the truck market. The Ram ProMaster continues the tradition and features an integrated cab configuration for unmatched up-fitter/conversion solutions. Adding to the ProMaster's design for adaptability, virtually all primary vehicle systems are packaged forward of the cargo area.
Electronic stability control
The standard electronic stability control (ESC) system on the new Ram ProMaster is a sophisticated four-channel (independent control to all four corners of the vehicle) active handling system that links the vehicle's dynamic control systems to assist the driver in maintaining control under demanding or adverse conditions such as wet, snow-covered or icy roads, tight turns, and evasive maneuvers. In effect, the ESC determines the driver's intentions and optimizes overall vehicle control to keep the dynamic forces within select limits in any driving situation – nearly transparent so control seems almost intuitive.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster van's powertrain lineup features the award-winning standard-equipment, gasoline-fueled V-6 and a torque-laden, I-4 EcoDiesel engine. The engines are paired, respectively, with a proven six-speed automatic transmission and an electronically controlled six-speed automated manual.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster marks the North American introduction of the potent 174-horsepower 3.0-liter inline 4-cylinder EcoDiesel engine that generates peak torque of 295 lb.-ft. at just 1,400 rpm. The engine features a number of refinements, including internal engine components, turbo and emission controls. Helping to reduced total cost of ownership, an oil-level sensor contributes to an oil-change schedule of up to 18,500 miles.
The standard-equipment 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is rated at 280 horsepower with peak torque of 260 lb.-ft., the dual overhead cam, 24-valve Pentastar delivers the capability required of a commercial van without compromising refinement – hallmarks that have contributed to its ranking among Ward's 10 Best Engines for three years running. Reducing vehicle operating costs was paramount in the minds of the powertrain engineers who contributed to Ram ProMaster's development. Recommended oil-change intervals range up to 10,000 miles. But an intelligent oil-servicing system that monitors vehicle usage will trigger an alert when service is most appropriate.
The smooth-shifting 62TE automatic transmission is upgraded to accommodate the Ram ProMaster's prodigious weight ratings. Specifically, its 3.86 final-drive ratio enables comfortable grade transit under full freight. The transmission more readily adopts the most appropriate ratio for a given driving situation. The numerically lower overall top gear ratio delivers a more economical highway operation.
The trailer/tow program comes standard with 62TE and the new M40 automated manual, which is not only exclusive to the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, it stands alone in the Ram ProMaster's competitive set.
The unique M40 gearbox delivers the efficiency of a manual transmission with the functionality of an automatic. At its core, it is a manual, but gear shifts and clutch functions are accomplished with electro-hydraulic actuation system. However, the driver can opt for manual shift-lever inputs when desired. But the driver needn't do all the work. Gearbox software delivers a unique response to driving conditions.
Shift logic is adjusted according to grade steepness. The result is a well-connected driving experience that delivers the fuel economy required of a commercial van such as the Ram ProMaster.
The Ram design team started with a functional exterior and interior, adding distinct Ram styling while adapting the new full-size van for North America.
The front of the new ProMaster is identified by visually durable bodylines, a broad wraparound bumper and twin-reflector headlamp clusters. True to the Ram Truck brand, the ProMaster leads with a bold, hexagon-shaped crosshair grille, featuring the Ram's head logo proudly displayed as the focal point of the crosshair. The cab-forward, short dash to front axle design pushes the nose inward and the headlamps upward. This design provides higher passenger seating positions and better visibility – obviously important for commercial users – thanks to a more confident vantage point from which to operate the vehicle.
The front bumper is a three-piece styled modular design, resulting in reduced repair costs and downtime. Durable front-wheel arches are styled with the bumper to protect the doors. A unique step is designed into both front bumper corners, making it easy to clean the windscreen from either side.
The new full-size van features plenty of real estate on all four sides. This space allows for businesses to post signage and graphics, making the van a rolling billboard to help promote the owner, trade or vocation.
The functional and innovative features continue inside the Ram ProMaster. Although much was borrowed from the Fiat version, Ram designers made alterations for U.S. customers. Interior design and function is of primary importance for a light commercial vehicle in which the driver normally spends long hours at the wheel, often under demanding conditions. The cabin of the ProMaster was therefore designed with comfortable driving ergonomics, important because the ProMaster is a place of work.
Because goods always need to be transported in total safety, the new Ram ProMaster van is fitted with accommodations to hold down goods on the floor. Up to 17 tie-down rings with 1,000-lb. rating fold away to maintain a flat floor, easing loading and unloading operations. Available partitions also offer passengers excellent protection against the possibility of load shift the cabin.
Safety and security were two of the guiding principles followed by engineers throughout the development of the new 2014 Ram ProMaster van. Ram's new full-size van offers more than 35 active and passive safety and security features. The ProMaster also includes standard ESC, hosting a number of technologies such as trailer-sway control. Security also means notification of the traffic around you. Ram ProMaster features ParkView backup camera and ParkSense with audible warning, all of which are useful when maneuvering a large van.
ProMaster customers can make the best use of their valuable time by leveraging Uconnect's easy-to-learn, easy-to-use interface – acclaimed for its convenience and sensible design. Handsfree calling in the all-new 2014 Ram ProMaster is made convenient via reliable Bluetooth technology. Similarly, the truck's handsfree text-reply feature enables customers to quickly deliver messages. A full-color, five-inch touchscreen is available with global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation, providing Ram ProMaster customers the ability to chart time-saving routes to their destinations. Uconnect Web, powered by Autonet Mobile, is available to U.S. customers. This system delivers continuous Internet connectivity, creating an efficient workspace and real-time information access on the go.
In total, the Ram ProMaster test fleet accumulated millions of miles enabling Ram and Fiat teams access to real-world data. This includes testing done in laboratories in Turin, Italy and Auburn Hills, Mich., at Fiat and Chrysler Group proving grounds, as well as reliability testing on public roads in many different climates in Europe and the United States.
The 3/36 Reliability Testing, appropriately named as each test car accumulates 36,000 miles (equivalent to three years of use) in about three months, is conducted day and night by teams of drivers. To reflect typical daily driver scenarios, the test drivers do not originate from the engineering ranks and are intentionally chosen from diverse backgrounds to represent customers of different ages, sizes and ethnicities. The test drivers scrutinize all the customer functional aspects of each vehicle as well as overall driving evaluations. This includes radio and navigation system checks, seat-belt buckling, heating and ventilation operation and opening and closing storage compartments and windows.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster offers 13 different configurations:
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 118-inch wheelbase low roof
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase low roof
ProMaster 1500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof
ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 159-inch wheelbase high roof extended body
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 136-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab 159-inch wheelbase extended body
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 136-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase
ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab Cutaway 159-inch wheelbase extended frame
ProMaster competitors are: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, Ford Econoline, Chevrolet Express, GMC Savanna and Nissan NV Cargo.
Start of production for the 2014 Ram ProMaster is scheduled for third quarter of 2013. All configurations will be produced at the Saltillo Van Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico.