When DaimlerChrysler dumped its Chrysler unit in 2007, there went Dodge’s access to the Sprinter commercial van that’s so beloved by bike guys. Nearly as big as a MotoGP shipping container, the Sprinter was seemingly made for riders who need tons of headroom, space for multiple bikes, good fuel mileage, and the ability to secure stuff out of the weather and away from thieves.
Chrysler needed fresh blood in the segment, hence the new 2014 Ram ProMaster range. Available in four lengths, it’s a real international omelet—engineering by Fiat, built in Mexico, featuring an American 3.6-liter gasoline Pentastar V-6 engine (a diesel version is scheduled for mid-2014), and boasting Czech Republic tires and “Made In Romania” bits under the hood. The van is almost 21 ft. long and 8.5 ft. tall, so naturally it’s incredibly roomy inside, with a storage area more than 13 ft. long, over 6 ft. wide and nearly 6.5 ft. high. But the money features are the flat cargo floor and modest 2 ft. load-in height, courtesy of the front-wheel-drive powertrain and rear beam axle.
We drove the 3500 ProMaster 700 miles while delivering a bike to Las Vegas. En route we marveled at some features and came to loathe others. First, the good. The powertrain is a sweetheart, with a tabletop-wide torque curve that makes accelerating and freeway cruising easy. We averaged 17.6 mpg for the trip. The handling is likewise good for a big van, and the sharp turning radius is appreciated. And the giant windshield and side windows, lofty seating position and backup camera all provide a workable view of the outside world.