RAM Trucks is a brand of pickup trucks and vans that are designed and manufactured by Chrysler Group LLC. The Detroit auto manufacturer used to produce RAM pickup trucks under the company’s Dodge brand of vehicles. Dodge started selling pickup trucks with the Ram name in 1981, but Chrysler decided to spin off RAM into a separate brand, as part of its post-bailout corporate restructuring and Chrysler’s acquisition by the Italian auto manufacturer Fiat. For the 2014 model year, Chrysler added a lineup of cargo vans to the RAM brand. The RAM ProMaster line is available thanks to Chrysler’s ability to share resources with Fiat, as the ProMaster was initially designed for the European market and is known in Europe as the Fiat Ducato. The ProMaster cargo van lineup is a much needed addition to the Chrysler portfolio, after the Dodge brand lost access to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. The Mercedes Sprinter is now the RAM ProMaster’s most immediate competition, along with the Nissan NV. The RAM ProMaster van lineup, including the RAM ProMaster 3500, is assembled in Satillo, Mexico.
The RAM ProMaster cargo van lineup was introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in February of 2013. The model number designations for each RAM ProMaster van are not related to the van’s drivetrain or engine power, since all ProMaster cargo van models in North America offer the same engine options. The base RAM ProMaster 3500 (like the ProMaster 1500 and 2500) is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine that yields 280 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transition. There is an available diesel drivetrain that is perhaps another nod to the ProMaster’s European heritage. This option offers a 3-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that produces 174 horsepower, and is paired to a six-speed automatic manual transmission. The diesel engine provides better fuel economy as well as more torque for improved towing, but the gasoline engine is capable of faster acceleration.
The RAM ProMaster features a front-wheel-drive layout that is efficient because it does not compromise the van’s cargo space, whereas a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive setup requires sculpting the van’s floor around the necessary components. The RAM ProMaster line also used partial unibody construction to improve efficiency. Like most cargo vans of European design, the body is about a foot and a half taller than an American designed van, which allows plenty of extra interior volume and allows people to walk around inside. The ProMaster 3500 is best suited for customers who need the largest possible interior volume. It is available in the high roof body style, and with two lengths: a 159-inch wheelbase version, and a 159-inch wheelbase extended version. The RAM ProMaster can haul up to 4,417 pounds and can tow up to 5,100 pounds, depending on the drivetrain choice as well as the van’s configuration.
The RAM ProMaster 3500 features 16-inch steel wheels, cloth bucket seats, power accessories, keyless entry, climate control, and a four-speaker audio system with USB integration. Buyers can upgrade with options such as alloy wheels, a cargo partition, heated seats, cruise control, upgraded audio with Bluetooth wireless integration, a cargo accessory package, and an exterior appearance package. Safety features include hill start assist, stability control, traction control, and front side and side curtain airbags.