Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 03-21-2013, 07:38 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
BrianW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 2,319
Re: Dodge Promaster

Nice review and insights, Chance! I've driven Euro-spec Transits, Sprinters and Renault vans (but not the Fiat) a lot of kilometers in Europe, and have to say that I've been pretty impressed by all of them. They definitely have a different look than we are used to, but they offer a lot of benefits as a function over form sort of deal.
__________________

BrianW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2013, 08:01 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Danville, Kentucky
Posts: 65
Re: Dodge Promaster

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
Nice review and insights, Chance!
I agree! Thanks to Chance's quick opin, I have never really thought about the advantages of a large front-drive van like the Promaster if you're only using it for lighter-duty, non-off road, and non-towing purposes. It does look odd but it's really function over styling, which is what most people say about the Econoline and Express vans for years.

Perhaps the reason why Ford is offering the extended version of the redesigned 2014 Transit Connect so that their front-drive mini van could be longer for non off-road and non towing purposes like the upcoming Promaster. I do know that there is a full-size front-drive Transit in Europe-only but I doubt they'll offer it here someday. I just hope that the factory all-wheel-drive (or 4x4, not sure which system(s) used) will be offered for both the US-spec Transit and Transit Connect. I do know AWD is used with the 2.0L turbo I4 as used in the Escape, which will be in the '14 TC, so maybe for '15?

Wouldn't hurt for SMB to consider a light-duty vacationer/traveller/cruiser van with simple floor plans based on the '14 Transit Connect and the Promaster, now that I think about it.

Edit: Sorry for possibly throwing the thread off topic once I started talking about the TC and SMB stuff but I just wanted to thank Chance for convincing me of Promaster's purpose as a van.
__________________

__________________
I'm a quiet guy from Kentucky in my 30s. I have Usher Syndrome, which is similar to Retinitis Pigmentosis, so I don't drive. I love Ford cars and trucks... and now Sportsmobile vans! Sportsmobile, please consider building the upcoming Ford Transit Sportsmobile!! :)
pffan1990 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2013, 10:29 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
jage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Franktown, CO
Posts: 7,561
Re: Dodge Promaster

What is this "non-off road" of which you speak?
__________________
and then
everything changed
jage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2013, 10:43 AM   #14
Senior Member
 
dhally's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: SE Washington
Posts: 783
Garage
Re: Dodge Promaster

You would think for commercial vans, it would be all about packaging efficiency, as Chance has detailed. Nissan seems to have a very inefficient package, but they claim easier maintenance access and more cab room. For light parcel delivery in town the Dodge looks like a great package.

For RV use, I would be concerned about FWD and low ground clearance not just for off-road but for rough roads and just moving around in the camp site. GMC made FWD motorhome and I've heard stories of people getting stuck in a level gravel driveway with them. Most of the weight is on the rear wheels...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance
Would agree the new Ford Transit looks newer and less boxy than the Ram ProMaster/Fiat Ducato, but there are reasons why the Ducato is so popular in Europe for class Bs. For those of us not looking to go off-road or tow large trailers the ProMasterís front wheel drive and associated packaging efficiency seems to offer some advantages over the Transit. Provided we can get over the aesthetics of course.

Functionally the Ramís lower step-in height, lower center of gravity, added 4-inches of headroom when both vans are 101 inches tall (Ford medium roof versus Ram high roof), greater interior cargo volume and smaller overall outside dimensions will go a long way towards offsetting the odd appearance. Besides, when comparing the largest models the Ramís longer wheelbase and shorter rear overhang look more balanced. The Ford Jumboís rear overhang just looks excessively long in my opinion.

To me vans donít look great anyway so function trumps aesthetics. The largest Ram to be offered in the US will have about 530 cubic feet of volume versus the Ford Transit Jumbo at 496 cubic feet. And the Ram, at 250 inches in length (just under 21 feet) is 16-inches shorter than the Extended Length Transit at 266 inches (just over 22 feet). And while itís true the Ford Jumbo offers greater headroom than the tallest US ProMaster, 6í-4Ē of interior headroom (unfinished) is plenty for me. Anything beyond that just makes these tall vans appear even more top heavy. A good example is the European Fiat Ducato with an even taller roof.
__________________
---------------------
2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
dhally is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2013, 12:25 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 577
Re: Dodge Promaster

Thanks for making a new guy feel welcome. Not trying to convince anyone of anything really, just pointing out that there is nothing new or inherently bad about FWD for some types of RVs. It will be interesting to see how the ProMaster compares against the Transit and Sprinter in head-to-head testing. And beyond that how they hold up long-term in reliability and durability.

For at least 50 years weíve had many FWD RV designs; from the compact classic Clark Cortez to the much larger classic GMC motorhomes (as noted above by dhally). And after the fuel crisis of the 70s, Winnebago made the Renault-van-based LeSharo and then the VW-van-based Rialta. From my perspective what all these lacked most of all was an affordable mass-produced high-volume reliable platform that would make service and repair nearly as easy as owning a car. Next to fuel economy thatís what I like most about camper/travel vans.

While 15 MPG on road trips from my extended Ford E-350 V-10 isnít that bad, Iím hoping my next van gets in the low 20s on gas or high 20s on diesel. As a side note, the striking similarity in profile proportions between the new ProMaster in maxi length and the original LeSharo and Rialta leads me to think SMB and other manufacturers will build some great fuel-efficient campers on these vans. At least I hope so.





Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2013, 12:36 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 577
Re: Dodge Promaster

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally
You would think for commercial vans, it would be all about packaging efficiency, as Chance has detailed. Nissan seems to have a very inefficient package, but they claim easier maintenance access and more cab room. For light parcel delivery in town the Dodge looks like a great package.

For RV use, I would be concerned about FWD and low ground clearance not just for off-road but for rough roads and just moving around in the camp site. GMC made FWD motorhome and I've heard stories of people getting stuck in a level gravel driveway with them. Most of the weight is on the rear wheels...
That's a great point, but the GMC were much longer and lower to the ground than the biggest ProMaster/Ducato. And unlike the GMC, designers can keep much more of the weight over the driven wheels. To me the ProMaster's ground clearance is not that different than a Transit or my E-350 for that matter.
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2013, 12:17 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 945
Re: Dodge Promaster

I've been talking with friends who are interested in a somewhat offroad worthy conversion, in something a bit bigger than SMBs, maybe up to 27', or maybe working with an existing Class B+.

I don't feel that 4wd is necessarily the answer if you wanna get down some marginal roads; things like turning radius, lift, wheel size, wheel base, etc can be as important if not more important than simply adding drive another set of wheels. And some modifications can be done (lockers, wheel size, etc) that aren't nearly as expensive as 4wd.

The wheelbase on the Promaster looks pretty long and the rear overhang pretty big for that wheelbase, which means maybe a lousy platform for use offroad. What's the turning radius?
__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2013, 08:58 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
jage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Franktown, CO
Posts: 7,561
Re: Dodge Promaster

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob_gendreau
I don't feel that 4wd is necessarily the answer if you wanna get down some marginal roads; things like turning radius, lift, wheel size, wheel base, etc can be as important if not more important than simply adding drive another set of wheels. And some modifications can be done (lockers, wheel size, etc) that aren't nearly as expensive as 4wd.
My tractor has phenomenal wheelbase, crazy offroad specific tires, total ground clearance, absolutely no approach or departure overhang (110ļ approach and departure angle?) and a selectable locker. None of that compares to the simple 4wd setting in any situation. Admittedly the articulation is a little lacking, but I've tried often enough to use the locker to get out of a situation and found 4x4 is always the better choice.

But even with a long arm kit and 70ļ a/d angles I can get stuck in the Jeep (35s, limited slip) on a two track rough patch or small ledge if I'm in 2wd. I'm usually in 4x4 long before that because I don't want to get stuck, but sometimes it's just that one thing in the middle of an otherwise easy road.

Same deal with my old Cherokee, it was fully locked, lifted and built all around as a wheeler, but the transfer case was more important than any of that. I started wheeling it stock and the benefit you get from 4x4 even with open diffs and bald tires so far outweighs almost any other modification that I wouldn't go out without one.

The van is the same, but 4x4 is even more essential because it's not just to avoid getting a little stuck (if that's possible in an 11,000lb vehicle) but to avoid situations that might cause body damage- stuff I might bash the armored Jeeps through just to see if 2wd would get me there is not an option I would ever take in the van.)

So while I have less experience with the lifted, limited slip van in 2wd over rough terrain, all my other off-road experience, playing at getting stuck, says "transfer case is the absolute most important thing".

Heck even on 2" of muddy surface conditions up in the mountains, where clearance and offroad tires do little and a locker will just get you in trouble, a transfer case is again essential. When 4x4 on a stock truck with open diffs and ATs can literally let you drive out of a 4' ditch in the snow and save an expensive tow fee and several hours, I'd say it's pretty important.
__________________
and then
everything changed
jage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2013, 12:06 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 945
Re: Dodge Promaster

That's true...on these heavy things that transfer case does help. Not only for traction, but for use on long descents. I guess my experience without 4WD is colored by the vehicles I used, mostly lighter ones. And they already had pretty low gearing. A buggy still outperforms a jeep in all sorts of situations, but you're right, that's a LONG way from a van.

In any case, I'm thinking of roads where you'd never put it in 4WD anyway, making these mods to make something that is rather scary offroad into something that at least can get down the ubiquitous "high clearance" dirt road, and maybe a bit of sand. Something 2wd trucks do all the time without even noticing. The problem is that once something gets built into an RV, it sometimes loses even basic offroad-worthiness. Departure angle, odd weight distribution, small wheels, etc.

I'm reminded of the old VW buses. There wasn't much we couldn't get over out in the desert. Of course, rather slow on the road But the newer design of the Eurovans made use on anything rough a horrible experience.
__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2013, 01:06 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Silver350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: BC Canada
Posts: 427
Dodge Promaster

Those old VW busses sure went places with only 2 WD. I suspect the bulk of their ability was rooted in swing axle/ IRS suspensions and some pretty low gearing thanks to reduction boxes on the wheel ends.
__________________

__________________
"there is neither science nor fact prevailing here" - vlamgat
Silver350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:17 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.