by Michael Butler
What do you do when you want to carry two people and a ton of stuff? You get a van, of course - and, if you're not fussed about Nappa leather seats and pedestrian detection, then the Ram ProMaster Window Van will be right up your alley. This bare-bones van makes use of a front-wheel-drive engine and transmission layout, which might sound a bit odd for a van, but it makes total sense when you consider the fact that this layout offers a lower floor height, which makes loading and unloading that much easier. It's strange that this van, classified as a passenger vehicle, only has two seats; Ram leaves it up to the owner to deal with a third-party supplier to configure the seating arrangement and, trust us, there are plenty to choose from. The interior is ultra-basic, the ride tends to be on the firm side, and its a thirsty beast, but it offers a great deal of value: this, combined with its limited feature list, will appeal to those that just want to get the job done without distraction and with an affordable price tag to match.
The new decade brings very few changes to the ProMaster range of vans. The Ram ProMaster Window Van gains a new factory-fitted trailer hitch with maximum trailer towing weight of 6,800 pounds, but other than that, you still get the same V6-powered, front-wheel-drive layout and the bare necessities that go along with it to make the ProMaster Window Van usable on a daily basis.
The 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van is by no means pretty car, and it doesn't come with many exterior features either. Standard on the 2020 Window van is a set of manually adjustable and manual-folding wing mirrors, prominent Ram badging, and a set of 16-inch silver-painted steel wheels with center caps. Optional extras include a front license plate bracket, power-adjustable mirrors, and 16-inch black-painted steel wheels. The Window Van is available in two configurations, both with a high roof, differing only in their body length.
The Ram ProMaster Window Van measures in with a body height of 105.9 inches, and an overall body length of 236.7 inches for the 2500, and 250.6 inches for the 3500. Total width without mirrors is 81.3 inches. Wheelbase on the 2500 and 3500 is 159 inches. The Window Van offers a curb weight of between 4,960 pounds for the 2500, and 5,060 lbs for the 3500.
Vans are built with one goal in mind: to serve as workhorses and to do so reliably, so it should come as no surprise that the Ram ProMaster Window Van is powered by a no-fuss old-school V6 - in this case, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. These engines have been proven to last for hundreds of thousands of miles and should last the lifetime of the van itself. Power is rated at 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and is sent to the front wheels via a traditional six-speed automatic transmission. There's enough pull, even when fully loaded, and will get to 60 in around eight seconds unladen. Maximum towing capacity on the 2500 is 6,480 lbs, and 6,410 for the 3500 Extended.
While we are impressed with the Ram ProMaster's powertrain and smooth power delivery, the same can't be said for its suspension setup. Yes, it is more comfortable than its more utilitarian comrade the cargo van, but it still feels harsh, especially when driving over bumpy terrain at lower speeds. Things don't get better once you're up to speed: the light steering forces the driver to make constant corrections to keep the van on track and can get tiring after a few hours on the road. What we do appreciate is the ProMaster Window Van's tight turning circle, a great boon for city driving.
There are no official numbers available for the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van, but we have managed to secure some real-world figures, which should be slightly more informative. Before we get to the numbers, it should be noted that this RAM van weighs around 5,000 pounds, and is powered by a naturally-aspirated V6, so you won't be achieving hybrid-car numbers. Hell, you won't even be reaching Dodge Hellcat numbers. Real-world testing shows a combined fuel consumption figure of 14.3 mpg, but those hauling lighter loads were also able to achieve around 18 mpg. Ultimately, it comes down to how you use the van. Dodge has compensated for this by fitting a large 24-gallon fuel tank to the ProMaster Window Van, which in theory, should give it a range of around 343 miles, driving style and load-dependent.
What we love most about vans of this type is the seemingly endless number of ways in which you can customize the interior, almost like the 70s passion wagon trend, but only for small modern-day companies and not small-time acid dealers. From the factory, the Ram ProMaster Window Van comes fitted with two seats, but plenty of third-party suppliers will assist you in fitting more if you so wish. The van offers front-seat occupants 38.8 inches of front legroom and a massive 65.4 inches of headroom. The two body lengths cater to various setups, and you can select any number of seating/cargo configurations via various upfitters.
The Ram ProMaster Window Van Trunk is all about getting stuff in and out of the cargo hold as easily as possible. In order to do this, RAM has incorporated a few design tricks that make the Window Van easy to load. The rear doors, for instance, open up to a wide 260 degrees, and optional additions such as a rear bumper extension and sliding doors make things even easier. The smaller 2500 offers a total of 420.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, while the larger 3500 offers 462.9 cubic feet. Once you add seating these numbers will diminish, but the ProMaster Window Van is also rated to carry a payload of 3,940 lbs in short body 2500 guise, and 4,290 lbs in long-body 3500 configuration.
To say that the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van is a basic piece of kit would be an understatement, but we get it: it's built to work, and not to entertain, so only the bare necessities are required. The Exterior of the van gets a full-sized spare tire, manually adjustable and foldable wing mirrors, 16-inch silver-painted steel wheels with center caps, as well as taillamp extension wiring and on 3500 trim vehicles, a premium heavy duty suspension system. The interior continues the basic theme by offering speed-sensitive door locks, manually controlled air conditioning, cloth seats, as well as a backup camera (which requires installation), and remote keyless entry. Optional extras include cruise control, an electronic vehicle tracking system, power-adjustable wing mirrors, and heated driver and passenger front seats. You can also opt for a passenger seat delete kit, a swivel kit for both front seats, or power adjustment and a comfy suspension seat.
How would you like a 22-speaker Bose surround sound system in your ProMaster Window Van? That would be cool, right? Well, dream on. The 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van falls short of delivering a symphony of audio brilliance: instead, you get the bare essentials. The Uconnect 3 multimedia system comes standard and makes use of a five-inch display, which includes a media hub with a USB port, voice recognition, and Bluetooth streaming, as well as steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Navigation is an optional extra, and unfortunately, there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on offer. There are four speakers on offer, and the best way to make use of them is to bump Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days as loud as humanly possible, while loading old bar stools in the back.
A number of recalls have affected the ProMaster line of vans in recent history: certain 2014-2019 models could suffer from a disconnected shifter cable, or a seat back that won't stay upright, but other than those, there's nothing major to report. Ram will back the ProMaster Window Van with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and five years of corrosion and roadside assistance cover, and also includes a five-year/60,000 month powertrain warranty.
The 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van has not been tested by any of the major American crash rating agencies, so it's difficult to judge just how safe this Ram van will keep its occupants in the event of a crash, but we suspect that it won't be pretty. Standard safety features include six airbags, a tire pressure monitoring light, ABS, electronic stability control, and optional cruise control.
There's not a lot to judge here, which is pretty much why we like the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van: it's about as bare-bones a van as you're going to get in this class. What is it good at? It's excellent at hauling loads of people and stuff around without complaint. Its V6 engine offers good power, its auto transmission hands out smooth shifts, and the overall experience from the FWD drivetrain is one of unhurried smoothness. We also appreciate the ProMaster Van's tight turning circle, which will go a long way when operating on tight city streets. What we can't get over is its harsh ride and the simple fact that there are no driver aid options, not even a simple blind-spot monitoring system. Even seats are left to the work of upfitters. Be that as it may, the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van is an honest offering that's not going to win any awards, but it will do exactly what you ask of it.
One of the most significant benefits of the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van's bare-bones approach is the fact that Ram has been able to drop their prices well below those of its competitors. In a market that's sensitive to price, this should give the ProMaster a slight advantage. The 2500 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van starts at $36,995, which does not include registration, tax, and a destination fee of $1,695. The 3500 breaks the $40k mark with an MSRP of $40,845.
The whole appeal behind the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van is the fact that it comes from the factory as a bare-bones shell, a working van that you can mold into whatever form you like. So it's highly customizable, and it has been built to get the basics done, such as transporting band gear, or ferrying workers to and fro, which leads us to our choice: we would go with the most basic 2500 Van (the 3500 would obviously make sense if you need the extra space). The 2500 is powered by the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine as the 3500 and will be just as safe, not to mention tow as much. The 2500 features standard manually adjustable and manual folding wing mirrors, prominent Ram badging, and a set of 16-inch silver-painted steel wheels with center caps on the outside, while the interior gets a set of cloth seats, with extra seating available via third-party installers. You also get a Uconnect 3 multimedia system with Bluetooth streaming and a set of seatbelts. The 2500 basically asks you to get in, shut up, and get the work done.
Whereas the 2020 Ram ProMaster Window Van offers the basics, the German Sprinter occupies the more luxurious end of the passenger van market. The Sprinter is available in two different wheelbase sizes and can seat between 12 and 15 people. In base form, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is propelled by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine producing 188 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a nine-speed auto, but a seven-speed and four-wheel-drive is also available. The 4x4 model gets the option of a 3.0-liter six-cylinder producing 188 hp and a meatier 325 lb-ft of torque. From the outside, the Sprinter is the better-looking van and gets the option of LED headlights. Inside, the Sprinter is on a whole other level in terms of design and refinement, and the optional sound upgrade adds five front, and eight rear speakers. Short wheelbase cars get 78.6 cubic feet of space behind the front row, while long-wheelbase cars offer 111.2 cubic feet. The Sprinter starts at $42,990 and should be your choice if you're looking for something a bit more luxurious.
The Ford Transit range of vans is one of the most popular in America, and for a good reason: it's highly configurable, reliable, and offers great value for money. The 2020 Van is offered with a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 or a turbocharged 3.2-liter five-cylinder diesel and sends its power to the rear wheels via a ten-speed auto. Buyers have the option of configuring the wheelbase length, roof height, and number of seats, but as with the ProMaster Window Van, there is little in the way of features on the base model. We appreciate the powerful engine options, and high levels of customization and configuration, as well as its good ride and pleasant handling dynamics. The interior of the Transit Van is a more comfortable place to sit in, and is also more refined, with more options on the table, including a much more advanced infotainment suite. What we don't like is its lack of features in base form, its driving behavior during strong crosswinds, and the fact that passengers don't get much in the way of features. It's a close match between these two, but in the end, Ford takes it, especially when considering its 7,500-pound tow rating.