Ram ProMaster for Vanlife: 13 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Ram ProMaster for Vanlife?

With a spacious interior, great drive-ability, and low overall costs, the ProMaster is a good option.

But how does it stack up against other popular models like the Ford Transit & Mercedes Sprinter?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

13 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Ram ProMaster

The ProMaster is new, widely available, and cheaper than many vans – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 13 reasons why vanlifers like the Ram ProMaster:

  1. Long Wheelbase: The Ram ProMaster comes in a 159” extended wheelbase option. That means lots of room for amenities inside.
  2. Inexpensive: The Ram ProMaster is one of the least expensive of the more popular vanlife van options on the market, both new and used (see price comparison).
  3. Runs on Gasoline: All Ram ProMasters run on gasoline. While diesel is technically more efficient, gasoline tends to be less expensive overall. Gasoline is also easier to access than diesel.
  4. Wide Interior: Between the Transit, Sprinter, and ProMaster, the ProMaster has the widest interior by five whole inches. Those extra inches help the interior feel roomier (see size comparison).
  5. Short Exterior Height: The ProMaster sits low to the ground, and while you can still stand up inside of the high roof option, the van overall is short enough that you can install aftermarket roof boxes, and roof racks without worrying about it being too tall.
  6. Cheap Repairs: Ram is an American company known for making affordable vehicles, and the parts of the vehicles are affordable too. If you ever need to repair or replace a part, those parts will be inexpensive and widely accessible.
  7. Easy to Drive: Compared to the size of the van, ProMasters are very easy to drive (some say easier than the Transit & Sprinter).
  8. Van Builders Are Knowledgeable About ProMasters: If you decide to go with a van builder rather than DIY, there are hundreds of options out there for people who have experience building out ProMaster vans.
  9. Excellent Traction and Turn Radius: ProMaster drivers say that their vans have excellent traction, and a much better turn radius than you’d expect for a large van. This can be helpful when driving to campsites, or up mountain roads.
  10. Square Shape: The ProMaster is pretty much the boxiest van out there, and more right angles mean a bit more interior space, and easier builds.
  11. Short Enough to Fit in a Parking Spot: The 118”, 136”, & 159” ProMasters are short enough to fit in a standard parking spot (although the 159” is a tight squeeze).
  12. Stealth: The Ram ProMaster is very commonly used as a utility van for plumbers, electricians, and other trades, so it may not be obvious to onlookers that you’re a vanlifer. The stealthier the van, the easier and safer it is to park overnight somewhere.
  13. Lots of Roof Space: The ProMaster is very square and wide, so there’s tons of roof space. You can fit lots of solar, a roof box (or two), a roof rack, or even a roof deck on top.

13 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Ram ProMaster

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the ProMaster.

Here are 13 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Ram ProMaster:

  1. No 4×4 or AWD Options: The ProMaster only comes in FWD, so if you’re planning to do some serious off-roading, the ProMaster is probably not for you.
  2. Small Front Windows: The ProMaster has very small windows at the passenger and driver’s side, and neither window rolls down all the way.
  3. Not a Mercedes: Some vanlifers prefer the name, look, and/or prestige of a Mercedes. And Ram is not known for making luxury vehicles like Mercedes is.
  4. Cheaply-Made Parts: Owners say that the interior feels plasticky and that there are a few parts that aren’t well made and break easily.
  5. Uncomfortable Seats: The driver’s seat in the Ram ProMaster is really uncomfortable, which can make long hours of driving difficult.
  6. Stiff Suspension: The ProMaster is manufactured with heavier rear suspension (leaf springs) than standard so the vehicle can qualify as a commercial vehicle (and avoid standard emissions). Because of this, the rear suspension is stiff and relatively uncomfortable on lighter builds.
  7. Low Clearance: The ProMaster sits low to the ground (6.9”), which is another reason why it’s not a great van for off-roading.
  8. E-Brake Placement: The emergency brake in the ProMaster is in a very awkward place. It’s located to the left of the driver’s seat and can cause some mishaps when exiting the vehicle when it’s on.
  9. Fewer Aftermarket Options: The ProMaster is not the most popular vanlife van out there, so there are fewer aftermarket vanlife parts available (although this is changing).
  10. Door Lock Issues: The Ram ProMaster is known to have some door locking issues, especially in the rear doors. This is usually due to broken contact sensors in the door.
  11. Shortest Ceiling Height: The tallest Ram ProMaster has the shortest ceiling height (6’5”) between the tallest Sprinter (6’ 7”) and Transit (6’ 9.5” inches). So, there’s less room inside and it may be uncomfortable to stand up and walk around inside for taller people.
  12. Front-Wheel Drive: The ProMaster only comes in FWD, which is great for driving on paved roads but can make it difficult or impossible to maneuver up steep inclines, especially on gravel roads.
  13. Resale Value: The ProMaster has a lower resale value compared to the Transit and Sprinter because it is far less sought after than those vehicles. If you’re planning to eventually sell your ProMaster, keep in mind you’ll likely get way less than you paid for it (see price comparison).

 

21 Amazing Ram ProMaster Builds

With a square interior shape, multiple wheelbase options, & a respectable 6′ 5″ interior height, the ProMaster provides tons of options for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 21 of the coolest Ram ProMasters ever:

Build #21: Clean Design ProMaster with Driver’s Cab Divider

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a U-shaped dinette at the back that converts into a large bed. There’s tons of storage and cabinetry in the galley kitchen, and it’s all separated from the driver’s cab by a pocket door.
  • Van: 2022 159” Extended Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @happypeople_vans

 

Build #20: Convertible Double Sofa to Bed ProMaster with Large Back Shower

  • Highlights: This ProMaster build from Thor Motorhomes has two sofas facing each other that collapse down into a bed. It has a small kitchen with an induction burner, and a huge back bathroom with a toilet and shower.
  • Van: 2021 159” Extended Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @linda_la_van

 

Build #19: ProMaster with Bed Ladder and Pop-Up Countertop

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a raised fixed bed in the back and a long solid wood countertop with a pop-up at the end to increase prep space.
  • Van: 2019 159” Extended Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @acrovanadventures

 

Build #18: Ram ProMaster with Tiny Shower, Lots of Cabinets, and Light Bar

  • Highlights: This ProMaster’s kitchen is full of cabinets and drawers for lots of storage, plus a slide-out Dometic fridge. There’s a small shower, and a fixed bed in the back, and the van is topped with a light bar for off-road adventures.
  • Van: 2019 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @exploringinavan

 

Build #17: Short Wheelbase ProMaster with Platform Bed

  • Highlights: This smaller ProMaster packs in a comfy platform bed, small kitchen, and a booth for seating. It also contains large overhead cabinets and garage space for storage.
  • Van: 118” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @dbr_vans

 

Build #16: Green Dinette ProMaster with Solar and a Shower

  • Highlights: This clean-design DIY build has all-white cabinetry and a striking green U-shaped dinette that converts into a large bed. It has a large shower and it’s topped with solar.
  • Van: 2017 136” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @enweilledansvan

 

Build #15: Fixed Bed ProMaster with Shower & Dual Swivel Seats

  • Highlights: This ProMaster (from Ready Set vans) features an ultra premium interior with a shower, fixed bed, garage space, dinette, and dual swivel seats.
  • Van: 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @ready.set.van

 

Build #14: Traveler Vans’ ProMaster with Fixed Bed, Indoor Shower, and Dinette/Work Area

  • Highlights: This professional build from Traveler Vans has a simple layout with a small kitchen, walk-in shower, fixed bed, and dinette/workspace. It offers hardwood throughout and some garage storage at the back.
  • Van: 2022 148” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @travelervans

 

Build #13: Unique Double Twin ProMaster with Back Bathroom

  • Highlights: This unique build from Capstone Adventures has a couch on one side facing a bed on the other. There’s a small kitchen up front and a super convenient bathroom and gear station at the back.
  • Van: 2017 148” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @capstoneadventures

 

Build #12: Lifted Ram ProMaster with All-Black Interior

  • Highlights: This lifted ProMaster comes with full walkable solar and an electric awning. The interior is almost all black with a large kitchen area, full sized bed, booth seating, and a walk-in closet.
  • Van: 2020 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @socalcustomvans

 

Build #11: Expertly Organized ProMaster with Tons of Storage and Hidden Double Bay Sink

  • Highlights: This ProMaster is built for full-time living with separate cubbies and drawer storage for all of your stuff. The kitchen has a double bay sink hidden under countertop inserts and the owner stores their portable toilet under the bed!
  • Van: 156” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @alwaystheadventure

 

Build #10: Apartment-Style ProMaster with Large Sink, Tons of Cabinets, and an Outdoor Shower

  • Highlights: The driver’s cab of this ProMaster is separated from the living area by a pocket door. The galley kitchen has a large sink, and the raised fixed bed sits on top of lots of garage space and an outdoor shower.
  • Van: 2022 136” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @campr.vans

 

Build #9: Clean-Design ProMaster with Wood-Floor Garage, Composting Toilet, and Large Kitchen

  • Highlights: This gorgeous ProMaster build has a clean design inside with a large kitchen below a marble backsplash. Even the garage is pretty with wood floors and an included rinse kit for bikes.
  • Van: 2022 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @ready.set.van

 

Build #8: Simple ProMaster Build with Sink, Stove, and Lots of Cabinets

  • Highlights: This basic build on a short wheelbase has a bed with garage storage underneath and a kitchen with a small sink and mini propane stove.
  • Van: 2021 136” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @nativecampervans

 

Build #7: Ram ProMaster with Roof Deck and Room for Three Dogs

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a booth dinette, mini stove, fridge, and a bathroom inside. It’s topped with solar and a roof deck!
  • Van: 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @livinginadvance

 

Build #6: ProMaster with Wet Bath, Oven, and Three-Burner Stove

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a front dinette booth, a mini oven with a three-burner stove, and a wet bath. The chairs in front swivel around for extra seating when hanging out in the van.
  • Van: 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @thevagabond.van

 

Build #5: ProMaster with Convertible Bed/Workspace/Dinette

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a unique modular area at the back that functions as a lounge area, dinette, workspace, and bed. The front of the van has a kitchen with tons of countertop space, and a hidden toilet.
  • Van: 2017 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @honeythecampervan

 

Build #4: ProMaster Build with Slide-Out Composting Toilet and Wine Cork Countertops

  • Highlights: This wine-themed ProMaster build has a fixed bed and pull-out table. The countertops are made of wine-corks and the owners have installed a composting toilet that slides out from underneath the fridge.
  • Van: 2019 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @oldvanzin

 

Build #3: ProMaster Build with Under-Window Booth Seating and Slide-Out Gear Storage

  • Highlights: This extended wheelbase Promaster has a high fixed bed that allows for bike storage underneath. In the front is an induction stove, and a nice booth seat under an after-market window.
  • Van: 159” Extended Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @dominickmenard

 

Build #2: ProMaster with Large Convertible Dinette Bed and Walk-In Shower

  • Highlights:  This functional ProMaster build offers a comfortable couch/dinette/bed in the back. The galley kitchen has a full-sized sink and the shower is roomy and works as storage for a composting toilet. 
  • Van: 2021 148” Extended Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @thehuntersvanlife

 

Build #1: ProMaster with Convertible Dinette Bed and Clean Open Interior

  • Highlights: This ProMaster has a convertible dinette bed at the back with storage underneath that’s accessible from inside or outside of the van. The kitchen has gorgeous butcher block countertops, convenient storage, and a large refrigerator.
  • Van: 2020 159” Ram ProMaster
  • Owner: @socalcustomvans

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the ProMaster, let’s see how it stacks up against the Transit & Sprinter.

Ram ProMaster Cost

Cost: Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit

ModelNewUsedPrice
Ram ProMaster 118”$39,490$28,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 136”$41,250$30,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 159”$44,450$32,000Check Price
Ford Transit 130”$41,665$30,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148”$42,940$31,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148” Ext$48,085$34,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 144”$41,300$60,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170”$45,340$70,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext$50,660$75,000Check Price

 

Ram ProMaster Dimensions

Dimensions: Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Ram ProMaster 118”66 inches96 inches75 inches195.4 inches
Ram ProMaster 136”66 inches120 inches75 inches213.2 inches
Ram ProMaster 159”77 inches144 inches75 inches236.2 inches
Ford Transit 130”56.9 inches126 inches69 inches219.9 inches
Ford Transit 148”56.9 inches143.7 inches69 inches235.5 inches
Ford Transit 148” Ext81.5 inches172.2 inches69 inches263.9 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 144”67.7 inches132.9 inches70.4 inches233.5 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170”79 inches173 inches70 inches290 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext79 inches189 inches70 inches274 inches

Related: Ram ProMaster Van Dimensions (more in-depth stats)

 

Ram ProMaster Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Ram ProMaster – 3.6 L V6 19 MPG 25 MPG 21 MPG
Ram ProMaster – 2.4 L V4 21 MPG28 MPG 24 MPG
Ford Transit – 3.5L PFDi V614 MPG18 MPG16 MPG
Ford Transit – 3.5L EcoBoost® V618 MPG24 MPG21 MPG
Ford Transit – 2.0L GDI I-419 MPG27 MPG23 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Gas21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Diesel21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 3.0L V6 Diesel18 MPG21 MPG19.5 MPG

Related: Ram ProMaster Van Gas Mileage (more in-depth stats)

 

Conclusion: Is the Ram ProMaster Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Ram ProMaster: It’s less expensive than the Transit & Sprinter, easy to drive, and provides a great square interior shape for building – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Lower up-front cost
  • Great drive-ability
  • Square interior shape
  • Short exterior height (yet plenty of interior head room)
  • Cheap to repair and maintain

So should you get one?

We’d recommend the ProMaster over the Transit or Mercedes for vanlifers who want a newer van that’s reliable and will save them money up-front. If you have a higher budget, the Transit & Mercedes offer better quality and aftermarket support.

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