Utility vans are fantastic vehicles, though many people still walk the Earth tragically untouched by the divine knowledge of unparalleled versatility. They see vans un-sexily driving about in their basic hues with nothing to gawk at, having clearly forgotten it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But Ram is throwing them a bone with the revised 2023 ProMaster by giving the formerly ugliest small van a complete makeover.
That means updated headlamps and a revised front fascia that makes the vehicle look more like the kind of vehicle European terrorists might use in an action flick, rather than some wide-eyed fish. Though there is also a gaggle of new technology inclusions and meaningful configurations designed to make the van better suited to individual needs/tastes — showing that style and substance don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
While I personally didn’t mind the fish-eyed ProMaster, the new design is much more contemporary and likely to receive broader appreciation. Ram has said the new face includes standard halogen headlights that are 29 percent brighter and provide 15 percent longer throw. The optional LEDs are said to be even better, with brightness and range being 70 percent brighter than the units in the outgoing model with a 50 percent more range. So, even if you don’t like the redesign, you’ll probably dig the way the new headlights illuminate the road ahead. The new bumper also includes a step to make it easier for drivers to access that super tall windshield whenever the bug guts prove to be too much or the wiper blades need to be replaced.
Those wanting to further personalize their ProMaster can take advantage of Ram’s decision to expand the color palette for the 2023 model year. In addition to the standard roster of hues, customers now have the option to select paint in Spitfire Orange and Ceramic Gray. Despite the latter option not sounding all that enticing, it’s easily one of my favorite colors in Stellantis’ bag and looks particularly good on flashier models (Challenger) without drawing a lot of attention. Though there should be plenty of carry-over colors if neither is to your tastes — including bolder options, like Broom Yellow, School Bus Yellow, Flame Red. Wheels can likewise be optioned in silver or black to further tailor the exterior, the former being the only choice for the new blacked-out appearance package. But I’ve always been partial to the default steelies.
One thing that won’t be changing, however, will be the powertrain. Ram has opted to keep the 3.6-liter V6 with 276 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque along. The nine-speed (948TE) automatic transmission it’s mated to has also been retained, with front-wheel drive being the only option. While this is perfectly suited for a majority of chores, those interested in converting their van into an overland survival vehicle might want to look elsewhere. Though the 159-inch cutaways and chassis cab should still make remain ideal for those hoping to DIY a modestly sized camper.
Truth be told, the ProMaster has long been a solid contender for the best utilitarian vehicle currently on sale. But it’s often been outclassed in terms of available options. Despite the Ram receiving a lot of praise for being easy to load while offering 6,910 pounds of towing capacity and a payload rating of up to 4,680 pounds, alternatives like the Ford Transit typically offer more configurations at a slightly higher price point. Stellantis is trying to close the gap by offering the 2023 ProMaster with a “super high” roof option that’s exclusive to the 136-foot cargo variant. Customers can also option an aluminum roll-up rear door that should play into the model’s strengths by making loading and unloading even easier.
Standard safety items on all ProMasters include forward collision warning, driver drowsiness detection, crosswind assist, traffic sign recognition, and post-collision braking. Other available features on the 2023 model should include Park Assist, for parallel or even perpendicular parking, a digital rearview mirror (meh), 360-degree camera (handy for anybody working in the city), automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, and Active Driving Assist with lane centering and adaptive cruise control. Some of that will be handy but the rest of it will be used to help fleet managers crackdown on drivers once it’s rolled into the Ram Assist fleet-management app.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come by default, ditto if you want some creepy Alexa compatibility. Customers likewise receive a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, dual-phone Bluetooth, and over-the-air updates — all accessed via a 7-inch touchscreen (10-inch available) running Uconnect 5.
The manufacturer has said a battery-powered ProMaster is forthcoming, with Amazon already confirmed as getting first dibs. We don’t have any details on that as of yet. Ram said it’ll provide some additional info later this year, along with pricing and more-detailed specifications for the gasoline-powered models. The smallest, non-cutaway variants previously started at $38,320 (1500 Cargo Low Roof 118-inch WB after destination), whereas the larger models with the higher roof start closer to $47,000. We’re not expecting Ram to travel too much further north, even with 2022 enduring wild inflation. But we’ll know for sure this fall when the updated model hits the streets.
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