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ProMaster going more “Pro,” adding muscle

by David Zatz on

Ram has announced its changes to the 2019 ProMasters, and a spokesman told us why the grille changed.

When the Ram people first got their hands on a big Fiat commercial van, they added capacity and durability, changing the suspension and chassis to match American roads and conditions, altering electronics and parts of the cabin, and even swapping out the powertrain with Chrysler parts.

Ram logo

Since then, knowing that abusive fleet operators have been taking their toll on ProMasters (and Transits, Chevy vans, Sprinters, and such), quality engineers have been finding ways to make the ProMaster fare better in commercial use — at least, according to a Ram spokesman’s conversation last week — and to overcome brand loyalty to other brands.

The 2019 ProMasters reflect this, with up to a 240-pound increase in payload (rising to a peak of 4,680 pounds). The ProMaster 1500 (Class 1) went up to 4,000 pounds, and the 2500 went up to 4,230. Towing  rose by 30%, to 6,800 pounds; a new towing package adds a Class IV receiver hitch with a four-and-seven-pin wiring harness.

ProMaster van interior

The Vehicle System Interface Module, designed so upfitters can have reliable access to the systems, has 13 inputs and 41 outputs; optional LED interior lights are a stunning twenty times brighter than the older lights, and have integrated motion sensors.

Ram also added a 136-inch-wheelbase 2500 and 3500 size with a low roof, and a 3500 high-roof in the same wheelbase.

What of the new grille, with its huge RAM logo? The company had noticed that many commercial buyers strip off the nameplates and “wrap” the vehicles in their own graphics, or repaint it with their corporate color scheme. The United States Postal Service purchased huge numbers of the vans, but not only those very familiar with cargo vans can tell that they’re Rams. The huge-RAM-name grille gets around that; whether it’s being driven by UPS, the USPS, or your plumber, it’ll have RAM in huge letters up front, unless they take off the grille.

2019 ram promaster

We took the Ram ProMaster out for a spin at the Chelsea Proving Grounds, and found its acceleration to be good for the class; but the real test was the switchback course, a series of sharp turns that test the handling and control of anything from sports cars to, well, large vans. We were able to snap around the turns at remarkably high speeds for the class, while keeping full control; it’s a fun-feeling vehicle, especially considering the class. If they sold them with more passenger seats, (rather than letting upfitters handle that market), some might take the place of minivans in suburban driveways.

Ram ProMaster claims “best in class” for turning diameter, the standard cargo height and load floor height, cargo width between the wheel wells and overall, and payload; it is the only front wheel drive large commercial van, making it more nimble and, most likely, better in snow driving. The van starts at $30,195, plus destination (118 inch wheelbase, low roof, Class 1), and is made in Saltillo, Mexico.

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