What is Your Dream Job? The 2015 Ram ProMaster Inspires

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Imagine the possibilities: What would you fill the Ram ProMaster with?

Small business is the backbone of America, and small trucks are the backbone of small business. 

Most of us think of ‘small trucks’ as pickup trucks, the kind you see filling the parking lots of Home Depot as contractors, builders and craftsmen keep our economy moving. But for so many small businesses, such as caterers, florists or personal services, a pickup truck is impractical: you need to store tools, merchandise or other items, or perhaps you need to cart deliveries around town to customers.

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The 2015 Ram ProMaster: A city-capable fully customizable cargo van

These needs have inspired one of the hottest new categories of vehicles: the utility van. The Ram ProMaster entered the category last year, already populated with the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200. The 2015 Ram’s very reasonable price tag—starting at about $25,000— good gas mileage, customizable space and very manageable size make it great for driving in the city and an alternative to a full size van or truck.

Talk about flexibility: This van can be whatever you need it to be

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The Ram ProMaster’s rear doors open easily

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Press these yellow buttons to release the doors so they fully open

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The Ram ProMaster rear doors fully open

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the ProMaster City and one of the things that I liked most was its flexibility. The model I drove only had seating for two—driver and front seat passenger. A glass panel separated the front from the rear compartment, but that can be removed. You can order the ProMaster from a Ram dealer with a bench seat taking seating up to 5, or could have it customized and seat almost as many as you like—probably up to about 9 total (again, this would be a custom job). The ProMaster offers great flexibility in pricing, too: pay for what you need and skip the features you don’t.

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Your logo here: Our magnet is right at home on the ProMaster

Mobile catering to mobile makeovers: Imagine the possibilities

But passenger flexibility is just the starting point for your imagination. Think of the possibilities:

  • Keep just baked rolls and pies warm in a warmer while shrimp and champagne chill in a cooler;
  • Securely ensconce freshly cut flowers in crystal vases for delivery to adoring recipients;
  • Bring hard-to-find supplies to students, like my friend Bibi Coyne did when she started S2dio Supplies in Winston Salem, NC;
  • Bring beauty solutions to bridal parties, girls night out or prom with mobile makeovers;
  • Stylist chairs, mirrors and hair care tools become a blow-out bar on wheels;
  • Be the envy of all the boys in the ‘hood by outfitting a video game truck with oversized screens and gaming chairs;
  • Install a bed, TV refrigerator and storage, then hit the road to see the country.
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Parking the Ram ProMaster is easy; it’s smaller than the pickup truck I parked next to

There are outfitters who customize vans and the ProMaster is a popular choice for its size and flexibility. I found this guy in Ohio who does a lot of this; you can even send him your wish list and he’ll figure out how to build it. His luxury 9-passenger vans go for about $70,000.

Legroom, headroom and space to create

The Ram ProMaster model we drove inspired all sorts of ideas; it was a blank canvas, yes, but filled with lots of little touches to accommodate all the inspiration to come.

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Ram ProMaster’s sliding rear doors create lots of space for getting in and out

Like the sliding side doors with removable panels where windows might be. Don’t want a lot of light or eyes peering in from outside? Leave the panels in place. Need more light inside? Replace the panels with glass. The back side panels also are removable so owners can install glass for even more light— great if the van is outfitted with passenger seating. A note about the panels: Magnetic signs wouldn’t adhere to the panels on the sliding doors, but they did just fine on the back panels.

The ProMaster also has rear doors that swing open fully, giving you the complete dimension of the rear opening –and room enough to stand if you’re less than six feet tall– to both outfit the van’s interior and make it easy to get things in and out of the van.

Then, the van’s size was nice too. Not too high off the ground, but high enough that getting things and people in and out isn’t a challenge. And driving in traffic, on the highway and even on the narrow, windy roads of my neighborhood were fine. I never felt nervous about the size of the van.

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The Ram ProMaster’s side view mirrors extend out so you have good visibility even when the cargo space is full and blocks the rear windows

And visibility was never a problem, either: the rear doors had large glass panels that were darkened on the outside, but I could see through them perfectly in the rear view mirror. It also had sizable side mirrors—with both regular and close-up sections—that extended away from the van so I could see its sides clearly. Even if the van was loaded with equipment or goods, I’d be able to see in the side mirrors just fine.

Adding to the visibility is the rear view camera. When in reverse you get a great view behind the van and guide lines show you where the van is headed.

Some things you don’t want to customize: infotainment, navigation and conveniences are standard

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The nicely arranged dash includes everything driver and passenger need

The ProMaster’s basic version comes with enough creature comforts that you might not need to add anything up front (other than leather seats; the model we drove had super comfortable seats that would be great for all-day driving but were cloth, not my favorite). The cab had space for my handbag between the front seats, a nicely edited infotainment system—satellite radio, navigation, connected phone and WiFi. There was plenty of storage including a shelf in the front near the ceiling that is great for storing books, catalogues or other smallish items, but you have to know what is up there because it’s really hard to see into the space.There was also a nice little storage nook over the glove box which is great for phones or other small things.

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A shelf over the front dash allows for storage of small things like books or catalogues

I can just see outfitting the Ram ProMaster with a couple of swivel chairs, a makeup table, glowing mirrors and tool drawers, and then spending my day ferrying between weddings, photo shoots and even little girls’ birthday parties, leaving smiling glittery smiles and fancy up-dos in my wake.

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A clever shelf above the glove box has room for phones, glasses and other small items

What We Loved

  • Base price, $25,655; price of the model we tested: $28,310
  • Great fuel economy for a van this size: 21 city/29 highway
  • Flexible, customizable space
  • Comfortable seating
  • Chrysler’s great infotainment system, including Uconnect, touchscreen display, navigation, Bluetooth, and more
  • Visibility
  • Size and handling—great for city driving and parking
  • Sliding side doors
  • Rear doors fully open
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Ram ProMaster Monroney

What You Need to Know

  • Designed to be customized, so price controls are up to you
  • Safety features including electronic stability control, hill start assist
  • Fuel economy may decrease with added weight in the van
  • Uses regular gas
  • 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty
  • 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty
  • 5 year/100,000 mile roadside assistance included
  • 16 gallon fuel tank

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss