Archive for the ‘van’ Tag

New 2017 Chrysler minivan spy shots

The Windsor, Ontario plant that builds all Chrysler and Dodge minivans is currently down for a thorough refitting, which will clear out ancient equipment and presumably use all available space when the minivan line is complete: standard, plug-in hybrid, and crossover (some believe a large car will also be added, as the Volkswagen Touareg shared with the Volkswagen Phaeton).

In the meantime, Chrysler appears to still be running prototypes built in their Auburn Hills shop, anticipating the time when real pilots can run down the Windsor lines for a few months for testing before the all-important vans are made.

Chrysler, inventor of the modern minivan, is still the sales leader for the first four months of 2015, but it has increasingly relied on cheap versions, discounts, and fleet sales, while Toyota and Honda cherry-pick the high-end sales. The new version will, according to Sergio Marchionne, have a fully independent suspension, an all wheel drive option, and a plug-in hybrid option, and is extremely likely to have a crossover relation. Naming has not yet been announced, but many observers expect that we will see a Chrysler Caravan with a high-end Town & Country trim level, duplicating the current lineup but without diluting Dodge’s new muscle-car image.

Allpar now believes that the minivan will use the Chrysler 200 V6 nine-speed powertrain, with some rumors claiming there will also be a turbo four (possibly with the hybrid, so there is always torque available). The minivan is reportedly based on a stretched CUSW platform, and should start at $26,000 with lower or no rebates. We expect the exterior dimensions to remain about the same.

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/05/new-2017-chrysler-minivan-spy-shots-28623

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Ram top growth brand in changing van market

The upheaval in the commercial van market continued in 2014 as the Ram ProMaster hit its stride, Ford introduced the Transit and GM added a small van, courtesy of Nissan.

In November, Eurovans (ProMaster, Transit, Sprinter) outsold traditional American vans from Ford, GM and Nissan by 187 units. The gap will only grow going forward as the ProMaster gains ground and the Ford E-Series van, long the major player in the full-size van market, is relegated to chassis-cabs and similar applications. This leaves GM as the only one still making a traditional van and the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna are nearly two decades old and don’t offer the space or fuel economy of the newer vans.

Thanks to an unusually strong month for the Ram Cargo Van, Ram brand beat Chevrolet brand van sales in November and was just 219 behind the combined total of Chevy and GMC.

Ram brand took a 19.1% share of the commercial van market in November, up 12 percentage points from its 7.1% share in November 2013. Year-to-date share for the Ram brand rose 4.5 percentage points, to 8.2% of the market.

Both Ford and Chevrolet have lost market share this year.

While they account for only about two percent of total U.S. light vehicle sales, growth in the segment has been strong this year. Sales of full-size vans are up 16.2% as of the end of November; sales of compact vans, including the Ram Cargo Van, have grown 25.3%. Both figures are well above the 5.5% year-to-date growth of the light vehicle market.

The growth in sales of compact vans bodes well for the rollout of the Ram ProMaster City that’s currently underway. While it’s more expensive than the Nissan NV, Chevy City Express and base Transit Connect, the ProMaster City beats all of them when it comes to capacity, power and configurations.

As Read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/12/ram-top-growth-brand-in-changing-van-market

Ram Truck prices ProMaster City

Chrysler Group wants to benchmark its 2015 Ram ProMaster City against the popular Ford Transit Connect in every aspect, including price.

The Auburn Hills subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Wednesday announced pricing for the all-new cargo van and wagon that directly competes with Ford’s Transit Connect vehicles.

The starting prices of the Ram ProMaster City Cargo, primarily for commercial use, is $23,130, plus $995 destination. The 2015 Ram ProMaster City Wagon, for passenger use, starts at $24,130, plus $995 destination. Those compare to the Transit Connect Van and Wagon at $22,130 and $24,655, respectively.

Since the ProMaster City’s unveiling in June 2014, officials have touted the vehicle as a proven performer because it is based off of the Fiat Doblo — a two-time International Van of the Year winner with more than 1.3 million units sold.

“The new Ram ProMaster City enters the (small van) market with a long list of customer-focused, best-in-class features, including the highest available payload and cargo capacities,” said Bob Hegbloom, Ram Truck president and CEO in a statement.

With a 2.4-liter Tigershark and exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission, the ProMaster City delivers EPA fuel economy of up to 21 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. That compares to the Transit Connect that offers two engines, including an optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway, 22 mpg city and 25 combined.

The ProMaster City is expected to arrive in U.S. dealerships around year’s end. It comes to market as redesigned and new products from General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. compete for sales in the growing segment.

Global commercial vehicle sales are expected to grow by 4.8 million during the next several years to 21 million units annually by 2017.

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City is the brand’s second shared collaboration with Fiat Professional. The 2014 Ram ProMaster full-size van was the first.

As read on: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/chrysler/2014/11/12/chrysler-prices-ram-promaster-city/18888105/

Dodge, Jeep, Ram pick up “Best Retained Value” Awards

The Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler and Ram ProMaster van were among the vehicles with the “Best Retained Value,” according to Edmunds.com.

The awards recognize brands and models that have the highest projected residual value after five years.

“Chrysler Group is honored to accept these awards from Edmunds.com,” said Doug Betts, Senior Vice President for Quality. “Great resale value reflects the strengthening of our brands and the improvements in the customer satisfaction and quality for these award winning products.”

The Chrysler 300, Chrysler 200 Convertible, Ram 1500 and Chrysler Town & Country all received honorable mentions in their categories.

 

best retained value awards copy

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/06/dodge-jeep-ram-pick-up-best-retained-value-awards

2014 Ram ProMaster Quick Test / Review

Allpar recently spent a day getting to know the new Ram ProMaster, the Fiat Ducato-based commercial van reconfigured for the American market and the first true business van to wear the Ram badge.

The ProMaster is the second Eurovan to hit American shores. The Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter was the first, and while it isn’t exactly a barn-burner with about 8% of the full-size van market, the game is changing as Ford gets set to replace its venerable E-Series van with the European Transit next year. The E-series and Club Wagon have been the best-selling vans since 1980 and account for nearly half the sales in the segment, so this is a major move. The timing could be just right for the ProMaster.

Commercial vans are boxes. Their purpose is maximum payload room, with enough left over for necessities like an engine and driver. In this, the ProMaster offers far more capacity than the traditional American vans: up to 530 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to 319 cubic feet in the E350 Extended Wheelbase with the front passenger seat removed. The ProMaster with the high roof is a true walk-in van that allows the operator to stand in the cargo area, reducing fatigue.

One of the key features of the ProMaster is the best-in-class, 36-foot turning radius. This advantage became apparent as I drove the ProMaster 2500 on the twisty roads in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Thousand Oaks, California. There was no problem keeping the big van in the lane. The ProMaster also was easy to maneuver and park in a standard shopping center lot, another plus for a van that will likely see a lot of such use as a parcel delivery or tradesman vehicle.

The Pentastar V6 provided plenty of power for in-city stop-and-go driving and merging with freeway traffic. No one is going to win any quarter-mile challenges in a ProMaster, but that’s not the point of a commercial van.

The rearview camera is almost a must-have option. Even experienced van operators will appreciate the outstanding view of all the stuff that is normally hidden, unless one invests a lot in extra mirrors (even then, the view is not as good as the one provided by the camera).

Driver accommodations in commercial vans tend to be fairly Spartan; the ProMaster cabin is a nice upgrade. It’s not plush but the seating is comfortable and the A/C does a pretty good job of keeping at least the front of the van comfortable. The controls are easily within reach and the lack of a drivetrain hump makes access to the cargo area much easier. I drove vans for few years back in the day and the ProMaster has it all over those Fords and Chevys.

My one complaint was the information display in the instrument cluster: without a manual or pre-flight orientation, it was impossible to figure out how to change it to provide the desired data, in this case the miles-per-gallon. I did master increasing and decreasing the display brightness, but that was it.

I tried two different ProMasters: first, a quick spin in a basic low-roof 1500, then an extended wheelbase, high-roof 2500 for a trip from Thousand Oaks to nearby Westlake Hills to pick up a load. Both vans handled well, even on dirt roads. Since any unladen van is light in the rear and the front-wheel-drive ProMasters don’t even have the weight of a differential I were expecting them to be skittish on unpaved surfaces. Both vans impressed me with their sure-footed handling: no bouncing; no feeling the rear end was going to break loose at any minute.

I had the luxury of a solo ride in the 2500, which was great. The van handled well on both well-maintained city streets and country roads that might not have seen serious upkeep since Ronald Reagan was the governor. Even after picking up my “load” in Westlake Hills, the ProMaster had no trouble with climbing narrow mountain roads.

ProMaster operating costs should be lower than a conventional American van, and there are already slide-in vocational fittings to suit a variety of purposes, from package shelves to workbenches and cabinetry for locksmiths, plumbers and other jobs.

When the ProMaster was first announced, there was a lot of speculation about how the controversial front end might be changed to make it more in tune with American tastes. However, I was fairly certain that any changes would be made in the grille and other soft fittings. The look is something to which we will have to become accustomed. Fortunately, with the latest iteration of the Sprinter and the upcoming Transit, we will have plenty of opportunity to learn to like the ProMaster.

For another perspective, I went to our highly-regarded local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership, CPDJ of Teterboro, next to Teterboro Airport in Little Ferry, New Jersey. They gave me the keys to a brand new ProMaster which hadn’t even been through dealer-prep yet; it was exactly as they got it from the factory, with the doors sealed shut by little stickers, protective plastic on the seats, and all.

There were numerous standard convenience features which I imagine make life easier for drivers, as well as a very handy over-windshield shelf (more on this later). An integrated clipboard atop the dashboard was almost big enough for a full sheet of paper; there were numerous cupholders in various locations; and an “overspeed” alert along with a gas mileage indicator.

The gauge cluster is simple but attractive; the gauges are clearly and plainly marked, and while the speedometer’s 120 mph maximum is surely unnecessary, it was not hard to figure out exactly what our speed was at any point. The rpm gauge went no further than necessary, and gas and heat gauges were both reasonably sized. A warning light went on when the gas fell too low.

The Chrysler people told us that they had spent a lot of time, effort, and money to make sure the interior would be friendly and not full of vague symbols, and it paid off. There were four cupholders (maybe more), and a gearshift that felt better than the ones in our minivan or 300C, with a positive engagement and good distance between gears (not to mention electronic range select to make getting into lower gears easier, and a tow/haul mode button).

We were also pleasantly surprised to see Ryan Nagode’s climate-control knobs, created for Dodge, in a commercial van whose original design hails from Italy; we have yet to see a setup that’s easier or more pleasant to use. Nearly all the other controls were in sensible places and well marked, the only exception being the left-mounted emergency brake (which is not in a bad place, just unexpected).

The optional stereo had surprisingly good sound, as well as a USB port on the dash. The heater worked quickly, and the fan was quiet; indeed, the cabin was fairly quiet for the type of vehicle, in general. My one complaint was the air pressure: it seemed as though air was being let in, but not let out as quickly, yielding a “thudding” overpressure sound. I’m more sensitive to that than most people, and maybe others won’t notice it; it might have been a caused by the optional cab divider (which looked far more finished in the cab than in the cargo area).

The UConnect 5.0 system was surprisingly responsive and easy to use. Features were fairly oddly chosen, including a fully graphical compass, a sparse collection of preference settings (e.g. for locking behavior) unnecessarily and annoyingly spread out into categories, and a pair of trip computers which work in an odd fashion. There were two “trip” settings in addition to the standard “trip” setting, which worked only from engine start to engine off.

The ProMaster has many surprises for a Sprinter veteran. It’s lower to the ground, presumably thanks to having front wheel drive; that means it’s also easier to load. It’s also much lighter than Sprinter for any given capacity, which means that the minivan engine and transmission were very well matched to the vehicle. Acceleration was surprisingly sprightly, with the ProMaster leaping ahead at traffic lights like a car, not like a big heavy cargo van. One got the impression there was a great deal of power left over for carrying a full, heavy load, a theory we intend to test in the spring.

The transmission (like the gasoline engine) was supplied by Chrysler, and worked very smoothly and predictably, with no hesitation, stuttering, or mis-shifts. Fuel mileage on our trip was fairly low, with a brand new (not broken in) engine and considerable waiting in line for construction and traffic lights; the Fiat diesel is almost certainly a better choice for fuel mileage, regardless.

The big surprise was the cornering, which was much more capable than we had a right to expect. The van turned like a car, with no screaming tires on hard turns, and no loss of traction on poor road surfaces. It jounced around just a little, completely empty, indicating that it probably has a smooth, even ride when reasonably loaded down. Turning over broken concrete roads and driving over railroad tracks did not affect the ProMaster’s composure at all. Overall, the ProMaster felt and rode like a minivan — a special minivan with weight reduction and a handling kit.

The huge windows, seemingly stretching from floor to ceiling, dramatically improved visibility, making the van easy to navigate despite the optional cab separator, which eliminated any pretense of a rear view (the company did not bother to install an interior rear view mirror). Manually controlled but huge mirrors on both sides, with wide angle inserts, helped with that — as did the optional rear park assist. After a remarkably short time, it was easy to get a feel for the “lane center” and front and rear limits of the van.

It was also easy to get in and out. The doors are not very wide, but they swing all the way open, in front and in back; the side door slid open with a smoothness I have never felt in any van or minivan, and I actually opened and closed it a few times just to enjoy its ease of use.

The seats were comfortable, and I’d trade them for the ones in my minivan. I’d trade the suspension too. My one comfort complaint was the positioning of the seat belt, which could have gone higher.

The tested vehicle was a Ram 1500 ProMaster cargo van, 136” wheelbase, low roof; it came with the base gasoline engine, supplied by Chrysler. Standard features included side airbags, side curtain airbags, stability control, brake assist, hill-start assist, roll mitigation (including trailer sway damping), tire pressure display, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, 180-amp alternator, air conditioning, driver and passenger bucket seats, four-speaker FM radio with USB input, tachometer, express power-down windows, telescoping steering column, full size spare, clearance lights, folding mirrors, and tinted glass. Overall, for a commercial cargo van, the base $30,515 bought a lot of features.

Optional equipment was partly clever and partly amusing. There was a deep shelf above the windshield with a one-inch-high lip for binders, maps, and such; it had no rough or sharp edges, and ran $195 including a locking glove box. That would be two hundred dollars well spent.

huh?The cargo partition was $305, and reached from floor to ceiling, completely blocking off the cab from the cargo area; whomever specified the partition, which includes a rear-view mirror delete, also opted for the $150 rear window defroster. That’s a useful combination!

Other options included a lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat ($50), rear hinged doors with fixed glass ($75), additional key fobs ($125), UConnect 5.0 (adding CD, BlueTooth, audio controls on the steering wheel, and voice command) for $350, 16 inch wheel covers for $195, and that most wonderful of features, the rear parking assist system ($250). The truck had a 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance, and a 3/36 bumper to bumper plan.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/reviews/14/promaster.html#ixzz2mKygTnpB

2014 RAM ProMaster Open House November 20th: 9am -6pm



 
Join us at Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on November 20th for our RAM ProMaster Open House Event!

We will have Refreshments, Demo Drives and while you are here make sure to Enter for a chance to win a $250 Gift Card!

The Ram ProMaster one of our BusinessLink vehicles, come in and see all the Great Benefits you receive as one of our BusinessLink Members!

Review: 2014 RAM ProMaster Cargo Van

I have driven more cars than I can count this year but strangely enough, none of them excited me as much as the Fiat Ducato we had in July. Why? Well, my snazzy new retaining wall that arrived pallet-by-pallet in the Ducato certainly helped, but the real reason is: the Ducato serves as the basis for the 2014 RAM ProMaster. Yes, I know I have an odd place in my heart for commercial cargo haulers, but hear me out. The ProMaster quite simply the biggest thing to happen in the commercial world in my lifetime. The only thing that could have surpassed the intrigue of a front-wheel-drive cargo hauler would be a front-wheel-drive BMW M5. I know Europeans have had these things for a while, but let’s revel in the American novelty as we click past the jump.

promaster cargo copy

First things first. The ProMaster isn’t a Ducato with a RAM stuck on the front. Instead, Fiat and Chrysler decided to do their most interesting joint venture project thus far: refresh/re-design the Ducato with the North American market in mind. Why bother? Because major changes needed to be made to meet US legislation so the team took the opportunity to tweak just about everything. If you’re a Ducato fan, keep reading because I suspect that many of the American market changes will trickle back to the EU over time.

Exterior

With cargo haulers, it’s important that form follow function. The “box-on-wheels” is eminently practical. Because of this not much has changed externally from the Euro version and shoppers still have three body choices: a cargo van with or without windows, a chassis cab or a cutaway. Up front we still have the utilitarian dark grey bumper covers in a three-piece arrangement. The logic is that if you’re in a minor scuff-up, you can replace just the portion of the bumper you need to instead of the whole thing. Since they are all the same color regardless of the color of the van, parts costs are kept low and you can afford to have one or two in inventory.

Breaking from American tradition, the rear bumper is thin and shallow. While this makes me wonder what kind of body damage happens when the van gets hit in the rear, it makes forklift loading easier and keeps the van’s dimensions down. When it comes to dimensions, the ProMaster breaks from the mold. Rather than having an identical bodies in 1500, 2500 and 3500 versions, RAM’s ”levels” dictate  which of the four bodies, three wheelbases and two roof heights you get. The 1500 is the only version available with a low roof in two different lengths. The 2500 and 3500 are high roof only and all that really changes is the wheelbase and body length. The shortest ProMaster is 29 inches shorter (body length) than a GM standard van while the longest is 26 inches longer than GM’s largest van. Regardless of body, you get 16-inch wheels wrapped in 225/75R16 rubber. The small tires and wheels are a result of the Euro roots and the contrast between the small wheels and enormous body make the ProMaster look a little like a pregnant roller skate.

Cargo Hauling

The slab sides mean we get a large square rear opening almost as large as the van’s cross-section. This is significant change from GM and Ford’s existing vans where the rear portal is notably smaller than the cargo area. At 62 inches wide and 60 inches tall, the rear opening in the low-roof ProMaster is 5-inches wider and 13-inches taller than a GM/Ford van. Similar to Mercedes’ Sprinter, the ProMaster’s side doors swing 260 degrees and latch nearly parallel to the side of the van. The ProMaster’s sliding door rolls on an external stainless track for easy maintenance and thanks to the 49-inch wide, 60-inch tall (low roof) opening it reveals, you can insert one pallet in the side and one in the rear, something you can’t do in an E-Series or Savana. You can add a driver’s side sliding door for a reasonable $575 or $650 with glass, but if you prefer the side “barn doors” in your cargo hauler, look elsewhere. The RAM is sliding only.

Once you get beyond the unorthodox looks, you begin to realize how enormous the ProMaster is. At 283 cubic feet, smallest ProMaster (1500 short wheelbase) swallows one cubic foot less than GM’s biggest factory van. Need more? RAM’s positively ginormous ProMaster 3500 will haul 530 cubes, nearly twice the capacity of GM and Ford’s largest factory option. In fact when you look at the numbers, the ProMaster 3500 extended body extended wheelbase will schlep more than the average 12-foot box truck and nearly as much as the elusive 14-foot box truck.

A unique offering (so far) in the ProMaster is the factory installation of a steel bulkhead between the cargo and passenger compartment. GM and Ford offer a few dealer installed options but the total cost is higher than the ProMaster’s reasonable $495 for the partition with a window (about a hundred bucks less if you don’t want to look behind you.) Adding the partition not only improves safety but because of the factory fit and seal, it reduces cabin noise and improves air-conditioning performance. (An important consideration when you operate a black fleet in Phoenix.)

Construction & Payload

Cargo volume without payload capacity is useless, and this is where the ProMaster’s Euro roots become obvious. The RAM doesn’t follow the American convention when it comes to payload scales. Not only can the 1500 haul as many widgets as an extended Ford or GM van, the payload capacity is just 111 lower than GM’s sturdiest cargo hauler and a full ton more than a Ford or GM 1500 series van. Scaling up to the 3500, payload increases to 5,290lbs. That is nearly 900lbs more than the highest payload Ford or GM. As a result it is more realistic to compare the base ProMaster to the GM 2500 series extended vans in terms of capability. Logically the ProMaster is also priced in this fashion starting about the same as that 2500 extended van.

How can a front wheel drive unibody cargo van haul that much stuff? Easy. It’s not really a unibody. Unibody haters can put down their pitchforks, the ProMaster is a hybrid, which explains how they can slice those enormous doors into the side of the van without it collapsing like a house of cards. Essentially bonded to the vehicle’s floor, is a heavy-duty rail system that stretches from bumper to bumper. For the US market this frame has been beefed up for higher payloads and rougher roads. You can see the FWD benefit in the picture above: by using a FWD drivetrain, the load floor doesn’t have to sit on-top of the transmission, driveshaft or differential allowing it to hug the ground. At 21 inches the ProMaster’s load floor is 7-inches lower than the closest competitor and even the forthcoming Ford T-Series won’t improve on this much because of the RWD layout.

Interior

American cargo vans have never been known for modernity, creature comforts or leg room. The ProMaster, like the Nissan NV breaks the mold but the two vans do it in different ways. The Nissan puts the engine under a long hood while the ProMaster’s mill is transverse mounted freeing up leg room. The difference is night and day and my right leg remained un-cooked even after a 2 hour drive.  The first thing you’ll notice about the interior is how utilitarian it is. Easy to clean plastics span the interior (read: hard plastic), there’s a clip board integrated into the dash and instead of carpet you get a hard plastic floor with some textured grips. The second thing you’ll notice is how high off the ground you are. The passenger floor is 6-7 inches higher than the cargo load floor because everything that the ProMaster needs to move is located in front of or beneath the passenger compartment. This has two benefits, it allows the load floor to be lower to the ground and it also makes chassis cab and cut-away up-fitting easier. There are two access panels in the floor, one allows access to the battery (it’s the large one you can see in the picture above) and the other allows access to the fuel sending unit. Anyone who has a fleet of GM vans will tell you that replacing a fuel pump is a royal pain because you have to drain and drop the tank to get to it. In the ProMaster you just pop the cover off and have at it.

Chrysler decided to upgrade the headrests to a car-like fabric design instead of the rubbery Euro versions but the rest of the seat design is the same. This means we have a spring-loaded driver’s seat that adjusts for height, tilt, recline and fore/aft. Sadly the steering wheel is not as adjustable as it telescopes but does not tilt. In an interesting twist, the three-across seating option has made it across the pond for a very reasonable $225. This isn’t a bench seat, it’s a two-person seat that replaces the single passenger seat so the driver retains the more comfortable throne. While I think the Nissan NV’s thickly padded seats are the most comfortable commercial seats ever designed, the ProMaster takes an easy second place. If you want a splash of luxury, you can heat the seats for $170 a pop, adjustable lumbar support for $50, and a leather wrapped tiller for $145. If you hate your employees, vinyl seats can be had for $100.

Drivetrain

The looks, front wheel drive layout and hybrid unibody aren’t the only things that set this van apart. The engines ans transmissions are unique to cargo vans as well. First off, there is no V8. Things start out with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 engine in every body style. Yes, even that enormous 3500 with 5,291lb in the back and a 5,100lb trailer attached. Sending the 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to the ground is a Chrysler 68TE six-speed automatic transaxle. This compact slushbox is the same transmission found in the Chrysler minivans except they swap in a much lower final gear ratio for ProMaster duty along with seriously upgraded cooling hardware.

For $4,000 you can toss in an Iveco/Fiat 3.0L four-cylinder turbo diesel. Before you laugh, this is the same engine found in certain medium duty Mitsubishi Fuso trucks, so it’s a solid heavy-duty contender. The oil burner cranks out 180 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, about the same amount of torque you get from GM’s 4.8L V8. This engine is mated to Fiat’s M40 transmission which is a 6-speed robotized manual transmission. Chrysler tell us that they have heavily revised the shift logic and control systems for the American market and as a result this will be a late availability option hitting around January of 2014. If you recall my review of the Ducato, my biggest complaint about the diesel drivetrain was the time it took to complete a 1-2 shift. Chrysler promises this has been corrected and they have also altered the torque pattern for American tastes.

The diesel has a few advantages over the gasoline V6. Oil change intervals stretch out to 18,000 miles, low-end torque is improved, first gear is lower (19:1 including final drive) to help you get off the line with heavy loads and the fuel economy is excellent (based on our Ducato experiences). Oddly enough, that M40 transmission is also a selling point. Because it doesn’t have a torque converter the fluid change intervals are lengthy and the cooling demands are reduced. Fiat tells us the single plate clutch kit for the Ducato is about $150 in Europe and I expect the parts to be about the same price on our shores. How easy is it to replace? That’s the wild card as I haven’t seen a repair manual yet.

Drive

Thanks to the new low final drive, the RAM is surprisingly quick off the line. The V6 model we tested scooted to 6o in 9.05 seconds, notably faster than the diesel Ducato we tested before. We didn’t get the opportunity to load the ProMaster as fully as the Ducato, but I expect the diesel to be the better hauler when full thanks to the better torque numbers.

Although not normally a consideration with a cargo van, the ProMaster delivers the most civilized ride in this segment. It’s also the easiest to parallel park thanks to an incredibly small 36.3-foot turning diameter in the short wheelbase model, smaller than many mid-size sedans. Even the long wheelbase, long body ProMaster 3500 impresses at 46.8. I know that sounds enormous, but in perspective, a long wheelbase Express needs a whopping 54.6 feet to do the same while carrying 50% less stuff. That’s the difference between accomplishing a U-turn or being the dude blocking all lanes of traffic while sea-sawing a multi-point turn.

Chrysler spent a decent amount of time lauding the Brembo front brakes which they claim gives the ProMaster the best fade resistance in the segment. Admittedly that’s a low bar to jump, but our informal tests around Malibu seemed to bear the claim out. One thing to note however is that with only 225 width rubber making contact with the ground, stopping times are no better than the competition.

Will the ProMaster be a success? I think it’s too early to tell. Fleet buyers are notoriously loyal to specific models because they have so much invested in uniformity. This alone accounts for the Ford E-Series sales leadership, despite being the thirstiest, oldest, and least desirable cargo van going. The largest unknown in the mix is: how reliable will the ProMaster be? Durability and total cost of ownership are extremely important in this segment and that’s an open-ended question. How will the 62TE stand up to a GVWR of 10,000lbs? Will it be as good as GM’s new 6L80 transmission they are finally putting in their vans? Rebuilt units are comparable in pricing so it will all come down to longevity. Chrysler is putting their 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty on the ProMaster to help entice shoppers. The combination of that small diesel and a long powertrain warranty to calm customer nerves could make a difference. However, if you option the ProMaster up with the diesel and a few options and you’re in Mercedes Sprinter territory and that is a dangerous place to be with the new Sprinter’s 7-speed auto and smooth diesel engine. Chrysler fights back with lower cost of service and ownership claims and a longer warranty.

The ProMaster is a compelling alternative to the Ford and GM 3/4 ton and 1 ton vans. delivering higher payloads and greater cargo capacity with low load floors, a more maneuverable chassis, a small diesel and excellent fuel economy. However, GM’s aggressive pricing and insane fleet purchase rebate program mean the less capable Chevy Express 1500 will likely be $2,000 (or more) cheaper than the least expensive ProMaster. Will the ProMaster’s ergonomic selling points and Euro charm win over commercial America? Or will the forthcoming rear-wheel-drive Ford T-Series (American Transit) win America’s hearts with its 5-cylinder diesel and twin-turbo V6? Stay Tuned.

As read on: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/review-2014-ram-promaster-cargo-van-with-video/

Behind the Numbers: Chrysler Group U.S. Sales

On the surface, numbers are just numbers.

But, if you dig a little deeper, you can get perspective.

And, that’s what we tried to do for Chrysler Group’s September 2013 U.S. sales, which grew 1% from September 2012 to 143,017. Read the below and then give us your perspective on our September U.S. sales.

With truck/SUV/crossover sales flat at 0% growth, and slightly down in raw numbers from September 2012, car sales grew 3% and accounted for a bit more than 30% of our total vehicle sales. Last September, car sales were 29% of our total vehicle sales.

While Jeep® brand sales were down 5% last month to 37,464 (from 39,245), you could make the case it was still a strong month given that the brand had to overcome the loss of Jeep Liberty sales of about 5,600 from September 2012. For September 2013, Jeep Grand Cherokee sales were up 19% to 14,906. Jeep Patriot sales were up 12% to 6,053. Jeep Compass sales were up 27% to 4,487. Jeep Wrangler sales were slightly down by less than 1%, to 11,984.

For those LX fans, it was a very strong month: Dodge Charger +49% to 8,713 sold, Chrysler 300 +6% to 5,036 sold and Dodge Challenger +22% to 3,932 sold. It was the best September ever for Dodge Challenger

For the plant* rivalry, Windsor, Ont., vehicles totaled 22,002, while Detroit’s JNAP vehicles sales were 19,870, followed closely by Belvidere, Ill., at 18,462.

Heading in to the final quarter of 2013, year-to-date sales are 82% of 2012 totals, and 99% of 2011 total sales.

As read on: http://blog.chryslerllc.com/blog.do?id=2174&p=entry