Dodge Ram ProMaster Diesel – Driving Impressions


Not exactly an RV review, but perhaps a potential RV review…

 
It seems that no RV manufacturer in North America is yet making exactly what I want for our next coach.  The longer this situation goes on, the more the idea of just building my own starts to take root.  If I were to build my own Class B (and I’m not saying I will just yet), the platform I’d build it on would be the Dodge Ram ProMaster, and the reason is simple: it’s got the widest interior space of any van currently sold here.  The thing that’s held me back from jumping into this mega-project has been that the ProMaster has been available only in a gasoline engine… until now.

I’ve been bugging the folks at Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram for over a year now, asking them when they will get a diesel ProMaster.  Finally this week, they called me up and let me know that they had not just one on the lot, but two, and invited me to come down and take one for a test drive.  How could I refuse?  The video you’ll see above is the product of that test drive.

The ProMaster has been available as a gasoline powered van for a while now, but there are a couple reasons I really wanted the diesel.  The first is, I don’t really want to build a propane system into my next coach.  With diesel fuel on board, I can use something like a Webasto or an Espar unit to provide furnace heat and hot water.  Bonus.  The second reason is fuel economy.  With the 4-cylinder diesel engine, fuel economy should be pretty darn good.

But none of that matters if I can’t stand driving it.  And considering that the diesel ProMaster has an unusual “Automatic Manual” transmission, I was very curious.  So how did it drive?  It was a mixed bag…

The Good

  • AMAZING turning radius!  Like, Holy Cow.
  • Aggressive brakes should stop a motorhome quickly.
  • More cupholders than your local bar.

The Bad

  • Unusual driving characteristics of the “automatic manual” transmission.  (Slow shifting mainly.  It’s different than anything I’ve ever driven, and would take some getting used to.)
  • Long lead time to order exactly what I want.

 

But my wheels are turning now.  So, what do you think?  Should I give up on the “RV establishment” and build my own?  Let me know in the comments below.

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    67 thoughts on “Dodge Ram ProMaster Diesel – Driving Impressions

    1. Rick L.

      This is the first I have heard of an “automated manual shift transmission.” Turns out that the Smart Car uses the same type of transmission. Out of curiosity, I drove a Smart Car the other day at a local dealer. I have to say, it is weird. I’ve driven many manual shift cars in my day. My first toad was a manual shift Geo Tracker. The Smart Car shifts just like a manual transmission, but it’s automated. Because I have driven a manual shift before, I could get what was happening. But the Smart Car dealer told me that many people who have never driven a manual shift before freak out.

      In 2016 Smart Car has gone to a double clutch system that prevents it from being used as a toad (or four down towing). Now, the Smart Car has Hill Assist. When you stop on a hill, you don’t roll backwards. Apparently the ProMaster diesel doesn’t have this. Honestly, once I got used to it, The Smart Car automated manual transmission wasn’t that freaky. You can come off the gas as in a regular manual shift transmission. Will it have snappy shifts like a true automatic? No. But apparently the double clutch system does have fairly quick shifts and acts more like a normal automatic transmissions. After driving the Smart Car, the ProMaster automated manual transmission on the diesel would not dissuade me. The big reason behind the automated manual is increased gas mileage over a normal automatic.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Once you get up to speed, the shift lag (that’s what I’m calling it) isn’t as noticeable.
        It’s the gap from first to second that really seems overly long.

        Reply
        1. Rick L

          The shifts in the Smart Car were smooth enough but they do have that “manual shift” lag. I guess the shifts are only as good as the computer program making them. I’ll see if I can find a ProMaster diesel to drive for a comparison. At least the Smart Car drive prepared me for what to expect in the ProMaster diesel. Regardless, it is a bit weird. My concern centers on the computer doing the shifts. It it gives up the ghost, you’re stuck. But I guess that’s true of most modern vehicles these days.

    2. Justin Credible

      I love it, but I am a grammar nazi and have to point out that it is not a “Dodge”. It is a RAM. Not Dodge Ram. Dodge has not made any trucks or fullsize vans for many years, it was separated from Ram and they became totally different brands, just like how Chevrolet and Cadillac are separate.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        You are, of course, technically correct.
        But a good number of folks have found us by searching “Dodge ProMaster”. It’s a misuse perhaps, but a popular one.
        Thanks for stopping by!

        Reply
    3. Jeff

      Why do you feel you have to have a diesel? I drive a promaster for work and I have to tell you the stock V6 gets pretty darned good mileage, has an almost insane amount of power, and is easier to get fuel for and get serviced. Also it has a standard style of automatic transmission instead of the one in the diesel.

      Jeff

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        As it turns out, we’re getting a gas one anyway!
        When I was investigating for a possible self-build, I focused on the diesel because I wanted the diesel fuel on board for other purposes. (Espar or Webasto heater and hot water being the main things.)
        I agree with you about the driving characteristics of the gas vs. diesel. And the serviceability. But I couldn’t find a suitable furnace and water heater that ran on gasoline – hence the diesel.

        If you do the math, most people would likely find that you don’t save as much as you might think by getting a diesel.
        Long story short, we’re getting a gas powered Travato, and we’re good with it.

        Reply
        1. Mike

          James – I noticed in an earlier thread that you drove a gas Travato 59K. We just purchased one and are awaiting delivery. What is your opinion on highway performance – will this coach cruise comfortably at 70-75mph?

        2. James - Post author

          Actually, we just took delivery of our new gas Travato 59GX. I had it on the interstate today and I was holding 70 with no problems. It seemed to handle passing semis with no issues either. I haven’t climbed any mountains with it yet though. Will update when I have.

        3. Mike

          Thanks for the feedback – one of our first trips will be from Michigan to Denver area (and beyond). I did see the video on your new build – looks exciting, hope you enjoy it! We plan to carry bikes, and I like what you did with the rear bed for indoor storage. I’m already brainstorming a mod for the 59K to locate bikes inside – but it will be a challenge.

        4. James - Post author

          Just for kicks, we took a 59k to a bike race, and had two bikes inside. They fit in the aisle if you put them face them in opposite directions. You’d have to have some way to secure them in the aisle. We’re working out a system to hold ours inside with these Saris Triple Track racks – the front wheels can fit on them too. We haven’t got it completely dialed in yet, but we’re working on it.

        5. Mikey S

          Personally I like the exterior look/sleekness of the Ram ProMaster better than the M-B Sprinter, and it seems a fully-loaded PM should run around $30-40K cheaper than a comparably-outfitted Sprinter, right?

          I thought about a Travato, but there is some customizing that I want done, so I’m looking at using a custom manufacturer, such as Advanced RV (though not sure if they work on PMs). Any ideas on other reputable customizing companies I might want to look into?

          Thanks,

          Mike

          P.S. You and your wife make a great team, very informative, dry humor. Do you both live out of your RV full-time, or use it part-time? It also looks like you could use it as an everyday vehicle.

        6. James - Post author

          We’re not full timers. We have day jobs. (And mine is killing me right now!)
          Prices for finished ProMaster RVs are all over the map. Depends on what you want, and what you’re looking for.
          I don’t think Advanced-RV is working on ProMasters. But you could always try Sportsmobile for a custom option.

        7. Stefany

          SO great to hear with someone else besides me who prefers the look of the ProMaster better than the Sprinter! The PM looks peppy and sporty and cute, if you ask me. And heck no not full-timers. Gosh…full-timing with James in our tiny little Travato? I think we’d drive each other bonkers. At the moment, we like being married, and hope to stay that way. :/

      2. Poncho

        if you claim you are getting “pretty darned good mileage”.. you should qualify what that means and then post what those mpg’s are.
        for those of us that have done research, v6 get 13-16mpg. I4 diesel are in the mid 20s.. big diff. I get better gas mileage with a chevy 4.8l small block v8 in a full size truck than that v6.

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        It looks like that poster had the same “this is weird” impression about the transmission that I did!
        But wow, that mileage! It will be interesting to see how that holds up in long-term tests.

        Reply
    4. Ben The Engineer

      I am buying a diesel powered Promaster. To turn into a camper. Major plusses by doing your own.
      1) More tan adequate insulation – glued in place polyiso.
      2) Storage space for toys.
      3) Large capacity water supply and holding tank.
      I have done this before. Marine supply places have lots of neat items, used on boats. Especially plumbing related.
      4) Last of all, lots of independence from hookups, for stays in lesser known camping areas .Possibly for a week without hookups.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        All Right Ben! I agree with all of your plusses.
        The major downside (for me, at least) is that it’s a ton of work!
        If you’re going to be publishing a page or something about your project, I hope you’ll drop back by and let us know about it.
        Best of luck!

        Reply
    5. Wolfgang

      Hi James, I’m Wolfgang from Germany. I read about your idea to build a campervan using a Promaster as a base vehicle. Another German, Matt, warned you to use a Promaster (aka Fiat Ducato in Europe) because of its bad traction on wet or muddy roads and its less than ideal automated gearbox. And he is absolutely right!

      Apart from these issues there are a few more things to consider. Firstly, Fiat Ducatos had a lot of problems with their manual gearboxes. I understand that the robotized gearbox in the Promaster is actually the manual one operated by a machine. The Ducatos’ gearbox was said to have a design fault which led to many destroyed gearboxes! So, if you reversed up a slope, you would get a vibration in the drivetrain that could lead to either a cooked clutch or a damaged gearbox. I don’t think they’ve constructed a completely new gearbox, so I would be wary. (see: http://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/forums/Motorhomes/Motorhome-Matters/Major-Fiat-Peugeot-Citroen-problems-Reversing-judder/12560/)

      Another problem was that rainwater was dripping onto the engine when the van was stationary. This could lead to rusty injectors that you couldn’t get out of the engine head causing high bills. I read they’ve changed the design of the hood and seals, but the American model still has got the old looks.

      Most of the European campervans (class B motorhomes) are Ducatos. But the reason is that the van itself is cheap (about 15000€/17000$ less than a Mercedes Sprinter) making the campervan much cheaper too. But you can feel it.

      The Ducato is wider than the Sprinter, so a transverse bed is no problem. But there are options for Sprinters too. Ours has a plastic extension, so the bed is long enough (watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQuef1DcB2k). OK, it looks strange … There are companies that offer an extension on both sides of the van so it’s a bit less bulky (see cs-reisemobile.de -> Rondo).

      Keep up the good work with your website and your reports on youtube! I enjoy them very much.

      Wolfgang

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Wolfgang – Thanks for reading, and welcome!
        Those are some pretty alarming reports on the Ducato gearbox, to be sure. When I drove it, I wasn’t aware and did not attempt to reverse uphill. Now, I wish I had – then I would know for sure. If I do move forward to buy one, I will try that out for sure.
        I had the opportunity to drive the US gasoline version of the ProMaster this past week. It was a Winnebago Travato (camper van). The gasoline version has a US V6, which seemed to have plenty of power. The transmission was certainly much smoother than the diesel version – so I hope at least the gasoline version is safe from those issues. Of course, I didn’t really want gas, but that’s another matter.
        It wasn’t raining, so I can’t say about the engine getting wet. Certainly something else to check out.
        And yes – the window boxes do look strange. 🙂
        Thanks for the info and links. I’ll see what I can turn up on the US versions.

        Reply
      2. Ted

        Hmmm, now I’m confused. I found two different sources claiming two different transmissions being used with the Promaster Ecodiesel.

        One article claims Dodge is using an Aisin transmission (not to be confused with Allison transmission). If this is the case, then perhaps we won’t have to worry about Wolfgang’s gearbox defect.
        http://www.ttnews.com/articles/lmtbase.aspx?storyid=2892

        The other article says Dodge is using what they call the M40 automated manual gearbox which is just a renamed version of the Fiat system. In this case we do have to worry which version Dodge is using.

        http://www.allpar.com/trucks/ram/ProMaster.html

        This article is an interesting read listing how they beefed up the chassis compared to the Ducato. They also expect the diesel to get mileage numbers in the mid to high 20’s so the 18 mpg estimate may be too conservative.

        James,

        Perhaps you can drop a note with Winnebago and see if they have any information on the diesel transmission.

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          I actually had asked Winnebago about that a while back and they didn’t seem too concerned. I’m hopeful that whatever problems our German friends have encountered were taken care of when they “Americanized” the Promaster.

          (Personally, I found it hilarious that one of the first things they were talking about in their redesign were the “big cup holders”. They put EIGHT cup holders in this thing. EIGHT! Really? That’s how they Americanized it? It makes me wonder if they tried to put white tennis shoes, jean shorts, and a baseball cap on it. lol. 🙂 )

    6. Shawn

      James, Are the shifting issues unique to the diesel version of the Ram Promaster?
      Georges, we are intrigued by your Safari Condo with the adjustable bed. Is it stable when you sleep on it in an elevated position? Are the batteries (with the roof solar panels) the only source of power? Is there a freezer section in the refrigerator? The website mentions that it sleeps 2-5. How is that possible? We appreciate all your photos. Are you writing/blogging about your impressions? We would love to know what you think about it. It doesn’t look like there are dealerships in the U.S. I wonder what it would entail to import one.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Although I didn’t drive a gasser, is’s my understanding that the transmission in the diesel is unique to it. Gas models should have what we in the US would consider a “normal” automatic transmission.

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          OK. I drove a gas ProMaster today, and I can say that transmission is definitely unique to the diesel. The gasser drives better than our current (older generation) Sprinter.

    7. Pete

      Here’s a vote for the custom Promaster. You did commendable work on your Sprinter rebuild so I’m sure a new custom unit would turn out great. And you could always partner with an established upfitter like Van Specialties to outsource some of the heavy duty tasks.
      That Safari Condo Flex layout looks very efficient and they do offer it as a fixed bed option for simplicity. I agree about the benefits of a no-generator design.
      I’ll be very interested in seeing how your project unfolds. We’ve got an older Sprinter T1N 140 wheelbase conversion and the Promaster 159 appears to be the best replacement option that still fits our 20ft garage length.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The great thing about our older Sprinters is the “no DEF”… I’ll hate to let that go.
        I’ll put you down as a vote to build one. Stef will be dismayed, I’m sure. Don’t tell her, but I’ve already located materials for making curved cabinet doors, and I’m working on double-paned windows (Why those aren’t standard in RVs is beyond me…). Advanced-RV can install the VB-Air Suspension that Stef is dreaming of in the ProMaster as well. I’m slowly working to wear her down…

        Reply
    8. Beth

      Hi James and Stef. Happy 2015 to you both! I wanted to ask James this question: have you seen the Trakka Torino Xtra from Australia? It’s very similar to your favorite layout you mentioned. On the subject of building on the Promaster: from your review, I wonder if the shifting of the transmission might become something that you can’t live with….it doesn’t seem to be very smooth. Anyway just a thought. Thanks so much for all that both of you do!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hello!
        I actually have looked at the Trakka. It wouldn’t be perfect for us for a couple of reasons. First, it has a wet bath, and Stef has veto power there. And the second reason is, though the layout looks good, the bed isn’t high enough up to get bikes underneath. (Well, not upright anyway) I haven’t seen any evidence that the bed raises and lowers, which would fix that issue.
        As far as the ProMaster shifting, yeah, it is kind of weird. It’s feels as though it’s being shifted by a very slow-shifting person. But once you’re at cruising speed, obviously there’s no issue. I suppose I would have to drive one for an extended period to know for sure if the “surging” would become annoying or not.
        Thanks for reading!

        Reply
        1. Beth

          The 2011 Trakka Torino Xtra’s back bed is movable up and down. But it may not go up enough for your bikes.

        2. James - Post author

          Good to know. The local buses here in Utah will sometimes have horizontal, padded, underbelly bike storage. I should check into what product they use – maybe it could be adapted for RV use. That would open up lots more design possibilities…

    9. Emile

      Regarding the earlier RWD comment, there is a trade-off to every engineering solution. The FWD GM motor homes of the ’70 were popular due to their low floor height and stable driving characteristics (the front wheels pull the vehicle straight under all conditions). There is also the lack of a heavy drive train and friction robbing differential to the rear wheels. I think if you consider your intended use you should not get disappointed. Also I found some links worth a review.
      http://www.allpar.com/trucks/ram/ProMaster.html
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-h8ruMKBog

      PS1 did you know that Road trek is switching to an aluminum sandwich panel saving them about 700Lbs per van?

      PS2 you did a great job on your van upgrade James, so I’ll be checking your new project updates frequently, Good luck!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I can see how the rear wheel thing might be a bigger deal on a cab-chassis Class C type motorhome with a lot of overhang and a lot of weight aft of the rear wheels. But I’m only considering building a Class B van, and much of the space behind the wheels will be empty most of the time. I would carefully consider weight distribution if I go ahead with the build. Anyways, I’m not too concerned about the FWD thing.
        Didn’t know about Roadtrek – may have to check that out.
        Thanks for reading!

        Reply
    10. Matthias Gemeinder

      Hi, James, I am Matt from Germany and here in Europe your Dodge Pro Master is called Fiat Ducato and is the most popular base for both van conversions and motor homes. I still would not buy it because:
      – Front wheel drive: in a motor home, all your weight is in the back and so your front wheels really don’t get very much weight, so high chance of wheel slip in the rain, snow and wet grass in a campground.
      – the “automatic” transmission. No good comments in all forums. Next year IVECO (the bigger size truck from Fiat in Europe) is coming with a conventional 9 speed transmission, so hope is, that Fiat is adopting this to the Ducato and eventually also to the Pro Master as the US market is mainly automatic and if they want to sell there, they have to make a decent automatic available. So if I were you, I would wait until they make that transmission available.

      We just got a 2011 Mercedes Sprinter 3.0 Liter Diesel 190 hp 5 speed Automatic and it is fantastic. They now make the same engine in the 2014 Sprinter with a 7 speed automatic in the rear wheel drive or 5 speed automatic as a full time four wheel drive. If I were you, I would get the latter.

      Our camper was built by Frankia and the model is an 8400 QD, This gives you a queens bed in the back and a big bike garage underneath., because like you, we wanted our expensive e-bikes out of sight from thieves and out of dirt and grime. Our camper also has a double floor which holds the tanks, is heated and gives you more storage room. If you want, I can send you pictures for inspiration.

      I am a car and camper geek and I love both and spend a great deal of time on reading all about it. That’s how I found your great site. I especially liked the part where you tested the different tank flushing systems. Eye opening!

      You seem to like the European campers, I prefer the US versions (not the outdated interiors and the cheap junk brands though), but the huge tank capacities that you have. (We have spent quite a few vacations in the US and love camping there.)
      For weight reasons, you only get very poor fresh water and grey water tanks and the black tank is usually a 5 gallon Thetford cassette. A black tank is something you only get on very expensive campers here.

      If you are interested in anything from Europe like floorplans, accessories, where to get which part, etc. or whatever else you want to know, just drop me a line, More than happy, to help.

      Keep up the great work!

      All the best!

      Matt

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Matt –
        It sounds like we have similar tastes. I do like the European floor plans and their more modern decor – but like you, I would opt for the “American Sized” tanks that we get, the big electrical systems and all the appliances they can run.
        I’m going to have to check out the Frankia campers.
        Glad to have some readers from across the Atlantic. If I start another build, I may contact you to ask where to acquire some parts!
        Cheers!

        Reply
      2. Karl Glass

        Matt, are you still able to provide any of the European RV floor plans, I have a 2007 Sprinter 144″ WB and am looking to modify. The Promaster or Ducato floor plans would be great to see as well
        Thank you, karl

        Reply
      3. David

        Matt,

        Thanks for the needed warning about the Fiat Ducato (Ram ProMaster) automated manual transmission. I just happened to be checking a ProMaster Diesel and ProMaster City (9-speed) for commercial delivery use. I will stay away from the diesel/automated manual combination. This bit of information saved me thousands of dollars.

        But on the RV front, how do you think the ProMaster City (9-speed) would serve as a baby sized RV?

        Regarding the Mercedes Sprinter 4WD/7-speed Diesel: I would shutter at the repair costs of such complexity; it would seem to be sky high here in the US. Your thoughts?

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          The ProMaster City seems a bit small – even for us. The overall height is listed as just over 6 feet – so you’d never be able to stand up in it, which would get tiresome. And with only 2300 lbs of cargo capacity, it would be tough to get a good conversion going with it. I doubt you’ll see any major manufacturers working with it.
          As far as the Mercedes 4WD diesel – I don’t think Mercedes is planning to lower their labor rates any time soon, so yes, service will likely be costly. (We thought it was pretty expensive when we had our Sprinter.)

    11. Jeff

      Hello James,

      I too really enjoy your website and videos! I am in a similar place as you. I am interested in getting a B Van this year. I will be a first time RV owner. Thought about doing it myself, but don’t have the time, skills, room, etc.

      I looked at the Challenger Vans you like. They are really nice. I have evolved over the past few months from being OK with the tried and true rear bed layout, to really liking what the Europeans are doing with layout. Far better and innovative use of space. After all, B vans are awesome, but space is a big issue!

      If you like the Challenger, you should take a look at the Westfalia Columbus [ http://www.westfalia-mobil.net/en/modelle/columbus/columbus-wohnen.php%5D. They use to mostly build on the Sprinter Chassis, but now they’re using the Promaster.

      I have talked to most of the Upfitters as well and find a wide range of offerings, philosophies, and prices. As JC suggested earlier, Sportsmobile may be a good alternative. I have been speaking to one of their sale managers and he informed me they will start to offer higher end interior materials, hydronics, and all the other cool stuff that is hitting the market now from Europe. It you’re interested, email me and I can send over the details.

      I wish you the best of luck with your New Van build!

      All the best,

      Jeff

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Which Sportsmobile were you talking to? Texas? California? I may have to start paying attention to them again, but that all depends on if Stef will buy in – and she’d have to like the interior treatments. Interesting though. If you’ve got a contact, send it to me through email – I don’t want to post someone’s contact info on the net.
        I’ll have to check out the Westfalia. Thanks for the link!

        Reply
    12. Dillon

      Have you looked at the new ford transit? They have three powertrain options (one being the 3.5 ecoboost and another is a diesel)

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Haven’t gotten around to a Transit yet. I am interested, but the Dodge is wider, which opens up some possibilities.

        Reply
    13. Georges Labrecque

      Great test drive. Glad to finally see the diesel version running. I guess the delayed release is due to the fine tuning or the enviromental approval for the new combo engine/trans. The engine is not new in North America, it is used in the Hino trucks, but Dodge never used it before. It is not the Ecodiesel used in other Ram trucks. We bought a gas ProMaster RV fitted by a Quebec company called Safari Condo. Great reputation. We were the first to own the XL FLEX version fitted on the 20′ 10″ 3500 PM. Great vehicle, fun to drive, actually the best van I’ve ever driven. We have an electric lift on our fixed bed at the back to be able to store a lot of stuff and our bikes in the huge cargo area. See our online album of our first 100 days taming the wild beast! http://centrelab.smugmug.com/PERSO-GL/XLFLEXsafaricondocom/n-MNSpq/
      Keep up the good work reporting on the wonderful world of great RVs. Also see my Kampervan Flipboard magazine https://flipboard.com/section/kampervan-bii6tz

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Just checked out the pictures of your Safari Condo. Impressive! Now you’ve got me thinking how I could incorporate a bed lift into a potential floor plan. I like the flexibility that provides… if we weren’t taking the bikes for some reason, we could lower the bed to make life easier on ourselves. Very nice build.

        Reply
        1. Georges Labrecque

          The XL layout with the FLEX bed used by Safari Condo on the ProMaster is very popular, they are now adapting it to their Sprinter vans, see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.349556541880777.1073741908.123104127859354&type=3
          It is a proven layout in Europe developped by Adria 15 years ago. We used the option to store bikes inside under the bed a couple of times, when visiting urban areas, and sometimes when campgoungs restrict the lenght of the vehicle. It’s nice to be able to have a more compact vehicle when needed but we are using a foldable hitch Thule bike rack more often. It is quicker to grab the bikes outside. The bed is surpisingly comfortable at a countertop height (34″) when the temperature is cooler. There’s more leg room and a wider bed area with the extra window ledge. I could live with a fixed bed at that height, but the flexibility of ajustable height is real luxury. The other great feature of our van is the 400w solar array and the two AGM batteries that provide enough energy to run the two fridges and all the electrical needs without shore power, as long as the van is parked in an open area.

        2. James - Post author

          You’ve totally upended my world and now I’m wondering if I could pull off the install of the bed lift.
          If the bed is lengthwise, that same plan could work in a Sprinter as well – or maybe even a Transit.
          I’ll check out the site – mais je parle français seulement un petit peu – et très mal.

      1. James - Post author

        I was thinking induction in addition to the microwave for cooking. Lots of battery capacity to run them, and likely lithium so that I could actually use all that capacity. I really want to avoid a generator in my next RV. We’ve used our current generator for a grand total of 10 hours in the years we’ve had it (not counting the time running it just for the sake of exercising it). I’d try to go the second alternator route. But if I really needed to add one, I suppose I could. But to add a diesel generator to the ProMaster would be interesting, because it sits so low.

        Reply
        1. jamey

          Did you measure further up the side of the van ? Remember it slopes in, Also I would consider the ford its much nicer. But im not a dodge fan, Good luck ! Love yer videos !

        2. James - Post author

          The ProMaster doesn’t slope as much as the Sprinter, I know that much. But there is a little slope. I know I need 40 inches underneath to accommodate any bike while only taking off the front wheel. I measured about 42 inches up, and it didn’t seem like I lost too much, but I didn’t measure the width at that point.
          I wasn’t taking too detailed measurements, because that wasn’t the “extended” van, which I would get if I decide to do it. At that point though, when I order one, I’ll have them let me template one out so I can start planning.

    14. Laura

      Roadtrek just released a new class B on a Dodge Ram Promaster. I can’t wait to see one at a RV show this winter and see how they handle the extra space as far as storage.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The only info I can find on that one yet is Mike Wendland’s video. I liked the spray foam insulation I saw, but wondered why there was none on the ceiling. If they use the floor plan I saw in the video, I’m less interested. It looks like a Travato. Yes, it can haul bikes, but you have to put them outside to sleep, which is a no-go with a $spendy$ racing bike. Still interested to see it though. You can bet I’ll put together a video if I come across one.

        Reply
    15. JC

      I really hope you build an RV! This way those of us who dream of doing the same thing can follow along and learn.

      It’s great how the euro’s have figured out how to have a garage and a dry bath. The Livingstone 5 MaXi Prestige by Roller Team has a similar floor plan. http://www.rollerteam.it/index.cfm?method=mys.veicolo&id=531

      Another alternative is sportsmobile. You can send them a floor plan of your own design. Their price sheet even includes a diesel promaster as a base.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        There are many European manufacturers with the same idea in a floor plan. Why nobody on this side of the Atlantic does it yet is beyond me. (If it were up to the manufacturers, we’d all be driving around with that tired, old corner bed floor plan until the end of time. Snore.) We do especially like the Italian manufacturers – they’re always got a certain pizazz to the styling.

        We’ve looked at Sportsmobile at the RV shows before, but Stef doesn’t care for the style of them. Very utilitarian looking – more like a camping accessory and less like a home on wheels.

        If I do decide to build one, the wait for a diesel ProMaster is about 5 months, or so they tell me. So I’ve got plenty of time to work out the details.

        Reply
    16. Rick

      Great videos! Love what you’re doing! I wanted to point out that the Promaster has a Fiat 3.0 4 cylinder engine while the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer a VM 3.0 V-6 (another Fiat brand). Both are great motors but they are not related to each other in any way other than corporate ownership. Keep up the awesome video series!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        You got me! That’s what I get for talking it up with the sales guy before shooting our wrap-up. I realized it on the way home, but didn’t feel like heading back out to reshoot the ending. I knew the ProMaster was an inline 4, but talking with the sales guy, well, he was obviously more interested in highlighting the similarities than the differences. In either case, it should still be easier to get serviced than our Sprinter, so though the details are inaccurate, the sentiment should still be good. I’ll see if I can get an annotation in the video to clear it up without reshooting.

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks for the link. Lots of material there to go through. What I really need is the ProMaster “upfitter’s guide” or whatever Dodge calls it. You don’t happen to have one of those, do you?

        Reply
    17. Finn

      Prefer the new ford offering except their front wheel drive version is a future release.

      Youtube comments turned off…

      Have you identified a modular bath insert for the dodge?

      I’ m guessing you’re going for a set up like that ca. Couple’s sprinter with the rear elevated bed and bike storage and roof top “deck”.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yeah, we keep the YouTube comments off because it just got to be too much in too many places. Thanks for finding your way here.
        The floor plan I’m thinking of for the ProMaster is based of this one from France.
        Dry bath. Bed in the back sideways.
        I hadn’t thought of a “deck” though…

        Reply
    18. Chris

      Great video. Would love to see one like this with the largest size Ford Transit. Have you seen one of them in person yet?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’ve not seen a Transit in person yet. Well, not in North America anyway… It’s not as wide as the ProMaster, so I don’t think I could put a bed sideways in it. It would be an interesting driving comparison though.

        Reply
    19. Dale

      You have your YouTube comments disabled. I personally think if you build your own RV it will never look good as a manufactured one. What would your costs be? I know when I fixed up my Triumph TR4A it was cheaper to buy one already fixed up then the costs to restore one. The best looking design for your class is Leisure Travel Vans or Airstream. Leisure Vans are my favorite but are expensive. The only draw back is there is no bike storage in the back like the vans you find in Europe. I wrote to Leisure and mentioned I would like to see a rear bike or Vespa scooter storage area built into the rear of their vans but I never heard back from them. Are your carpenter skills as good as a manufactured RV builder? Is this something you really want to try? I guess you have to sit down and look at the costs and you might need a Van auto body shop for help. I enjoy your videos. Take care….Dale

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’m not too worried about the woodworking aspects of it. My last RV remodel turned out OK. I’m actually more worried about electrical systems, creating exterior storage, and other things I haven’t tackled before. In any case, it’s a big project, for sure. I’ll put you down as a “no” vote. 😉

        Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear once we have had the chance to review it.