Why the Ram Promaster is Perfect for Van Life

The Ram Promaster Cargo Van is the essential foundation of pre-built Class B camper vans because of its size,  performance, fuel efficiency, customization, and reliability. 

If you want to live on the road, there are many vehicles to choose from. You can live in an old school bus or “schoolie”  or yank out the back seats in the old family minivan. We’ve even heard of folks living in sedans. 

However, the quintessential vehicle is the cargo van. When it comes to cargo vans, there are three main players– Ford makes the Transit, Mercedes makes the Sprinter, and of course, Ram makes the Promaster.

As van people, when we see a van lifer’s Promaster, with its iconic boxy and white shape and Ram logo on the front, we become curious to see what’s inside. As creators of pre-built lifestyle vehicles, when we see a Promaster, we cannot wait to make our mark with an intricate and intentional cargo van conversion.    

For us, the Promaster has become synonymous with van life. That’s why we’ve chosen the Promaster as the foundation for our van builds. But why is that?

Below, we will take a deep dive into the Ram Promaster Van. In doing so, we will talk about what, why, and how Promasters are perfect for van life.

The Van Life Phenomenon

Let’s be honest: people have been living in their vehicles and traveling in vans and buses since the dawn of the automobile. However, the rise of modern van life culture, whereby regular people purchase a cargo van and convert its empty belly into a perfectly livable space with all the modern amenities they could desire, is a relatively new phenomenon.

Van life has exploded in popularity over the recent decade—maybe even as recently as the last five years. A lot of that had to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressure people felt to avoid indoor spaces and spend more time outside. 

All of a sudden, folks wanted to enjoy their local trails or visit a new national park instead of staying home or letting loose with other types of leisure, all while avoiding flying in airplanes. This meant they spent more time road-tripping around in their personal vehicles. 

Unfortunately, many people lost their jobs. This left them with more time to focus on themselves, new passions and hobbies, and a need to simplify, downsize, and save money. 

For some, buying a cargo van like a Ram Promaster was the perfect tool for downsizing and saving money while still opening the door to new travel and adventure.  

The Impact of Remote Work

But people weren’t only prioritizing spending time outside or away from large groups of people while they recreated. The pandemic also triggered a more or less international shift toward remote work (i.e., work from home) as a last-ditch effort to keep businesses running without exposing everyone to spaces and situations whereby they could not be socially distant.

Through that, individual companies and entire industries of business learned that their people did not need to be corralled into stuffy offices to get their work done. In fact,  they learned that people could be as productive, if not more productive, while working from home. Or from whatever location they chose.

Slowly then, as the world calmed down and we got a better handle on the pandemic, some things returned back to “normal.” Like going to the movies and eating out. Some businesses even had their employees return to the office.

However, for some folks, most notably those who found that they preferred to work from home or from wherever they could park their van and get a reliable cell signal and Wi-Fi, returning to normal work was out of the question. They decided that life on the road and out of the office was where they wanted to be.

For many of them, the Ram Promaster was the vehicle that made that possible.

Making a choice: Is the Ram Promaster Right for You?

Let’s be honest; the short answer to this question is yes. But for the sake of prepping you as much as possible for your next road-worthy adventure, let’s consider a few things about the Promaster.

Considerations for making the final decision

  • Max payload and towing: The max payload and towing capabilities of a Promaster Cargo van will depend on engine size. The larger the engine, the better it will perform when loaded down or while towing. However, going too big may impact fuel economy.
  • Roof height and overhead space: Technically speaking, Promasters come in standard or high roof options. High-roof vans are better for most folks because they allow you to stand up in your van and provide more storage space.
  • Cargo length and width: the size of your sleeping, eating, and living spaces and the amount of storage space you have in the van are directly correlated to the cargo length and width and the overall interior cubic feet. Typically, the more cubic feet, the merrier.
  • Front vs. rear-wheel drive: The Ram Promaster Cargo van is front-wheel drive. This helps the van maintain traction in variable conditions and on various road surfaces, even when loaded down.
  • Fuel efficiency: Your van’s efficiency will depend on weather, terrain, whether you’re towing or not, and the payload (i.e., the pre-built living space in the back along with your personal items). It’ll be essential to select a Promaster cargo van with a strong enough engine for your lifestyle.
  • Room for more passengers: Not every cargo van is large enough to accommodate multiple passengers. If you have kids or like traveling with friends, a larger Promaster cargo van will suit you better.    

Spotlight on the Ram Promaster

There are three models of the Ram Promaster Cargo Van– the Promaster 1500, 2500, and 3500. For each model, there are a series of options for cargo length (wheelbase) and roof height. The size of the engine, along with the cargo length and roof height, impact the payload and towing capacities of each model.

Ram Promaster 1500 Van 
Cargo Length/Wheelbase8′ Cargo Length/118” Wheelbase10′ Cargo Length/136″ Wheelbase
Roof height optionsStandard roofStandard roof
High roof
Cargo height5’6”Standard roof: 5’6”
High roof: 6’5”
Cargo width6’3”Standard roof: 6’3”
High roof: 6’3”
Max payload4150 pounds4050 pounds
Max towing 6910 pounds6800 pounds
Ram Promaster 2500 Van 
Cargo Length/Wheelbase10′ Cargo Length/136″ Wheelbase12′ Cargo Length/159″ Wheelbase
Roof height optionsStandard roof
High roof
High roof
Cargo heightStandard roof: 5’6”
High roof: 6’5”
6’5”
Cargo widthStandard roof: 6’3”
High roof: 6’3”
6’3”
Max payloadStandard roof: 4400 pounds
High roof: 4140 pounds
4000 pounds
Max towing Standard roof: 6800 pounds
High roof: 6700
6480 pounds
Ram Promaster 3500 Van 
Cargo Length/Wheelbase13′ Cargo Length/159″ Ext. Wheelbase
Roof height optionsHigh roof 
Super-high roof
Cargo heightHigh roof: 6’5”
Super-high roof: 7’2”
Cargo widthHigh roof: 6’3”
Super-high roof: 6’3”
Max payloadHigh roof: 4320 pounds
Super-high roof: 4300 pounds
Max towing High roof: 6410
Super-high roof: 6410 pounds

As you can tell, when it comes to size, space, and engine strength, there is a lot to like about the Promaster Cargo Van models. That’s why they are one of the most popular choices for tradesmen and delivery personnel. But it’s not just folks with business needs that find the standard features of the Promaster vans to be appealing.

Van lifers also prefer the Promaster selection. When it comes to van life, there are five specific features that make Promasters appealing (more so than other types of cargo vans).

It’s because of these five great characteristics that we use the Promaster van as the foundation for all of our pre-built van conversions.

  1. Size
  2. Power & performance
  3. Fuel efficiency
  4. Customization
  5. Reliability & durability 

Size Matters: Spaciousness of the Ram Promaster

When it comes to cubic feet or the volume of the interior of an item or space, the Promaster is unmatched. The more cubic feet of cargo space a van can accommodate, the more living space you can enjoy.

Interior Capacity of Ram Promaster Vans
10′ Cargo Length/136″ Wheelbase w/ high roof353 cubic feet
12′ Cargo Length/159″ Wheelbase w/ high roof420 cubic feet
13′ Cargo Length/159″ Ext. Wheelbase w/ high roof463 cubic feet

Benefits of a spacious interior for living and storage

  • Spacious width: Promaster vans come with just over six feet of ample side-to-side spaciousness. The roomy width accommodates full-sized beds, storage compartments, and a kitchenette.
  • High roof: every single one of our pre-built vans comes with a high roof option. The high roof provides 6’1″ of vertical space after the build-out, allowing the vast majority of people to stand comfortably within the van.

Power and Performance

The Ram Promaster cargo van is built to carry–you guessed it– cargo. And a lot of it! Besides the van’s cargo space, the Promaster’s engine is what also makes that possible.

The Promaster vans we’ve selected for our fleet are equipped with a powerful 3.6 liter V6 engine with a capacity of putting out 276 horsepower at 6,400 RPMs. Since Ram’s engine upgrade in 2022, all of our vans are nine-speed automatics and front-wheel drive.

The upgraded nine-speed transmission has more gears. This allows the engine to run at the most efficient RPM and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. This is especially beneficial for vehicles that need to balance power and efficiency, like our vans. x

So far, DM Van customers have been digging the upgraded transmission. This engine setup offers plenty of get-up-and-go for transporting you and whatever else you have– like climbing gear, mountain bikes, additional passengers, or a tow-away trailer loaded down with supplies.

But don’t forget the braking…

When it comes to full-time van life or road-tripping in a Promaster cargo van converted with one of our pre-built layouts, having a powerful enough engine is not the only thing you should consider. Slowing down and reliably bringing your van to a stop is also critical.

The Promaster vans we work with feature a 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS). The front and rear brakes on the vehicle are ventilated disc brakes, which enhance their stopping power, allowing you reliable control when braking your van at high speeds or on steep terrain.

Other features that improve power and performance

  • Crosswind stabilization
  • Hill holder control
  • Roll stability control
  • Stability control
  • Traction control
  • Trailer stability control

Efficiency: Going Further for Less

Technically speaking, full-sized vans like the Ram Promaster cargo van have not been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fuel economy standards. Therefore, there’s no “official” miles-per-gallon (MPG) statistic for Promasters.

Most informal tests show the Promaster getting 13 and 15 MPG in the city. User-based self-reporting shows the Promaster getting between 17 and 20 MPG on the highway. 

At DM Vans, there is no shortage of real on-the-road experience with newly built Promaster vans. Joe, President at DM Vans, gets between 17 and 19 MPG in his DM Van. Similarly, Katie, Support & Sales Manager, consistently gets between 18 and 20 MPG in her DM Van. 

Improving the fuel economy of your Promaster van

When you’re on the road, fuel efficiency is super important. The more efficiently you can operate your van, the less fuel you will consume (and the more cash you can keep in your pocket).

Many different factors can affect your van’s fuel efficiency. Consider the following tips to help your DM Van go further for less.

  • Be chill– avoid aggressive driving (i.e., rapid acceleration and braking)
  • Try not to leave your van idling for excessive amounts of time; it’s bad for the environment and decreases your fuel efficiency
  • Embrace the heat, crack a window, and save the AC for desperate times
  • Let your van warm up in cold weather because a warm engine utilizes fuel efficiently
  • When doing your route planning, select the most fuel-efficient route
  • Use cruise control on the highway to maintain a constant speed and save gas
  • Observe the speed limit– slower speeds translate to better fuel economy (and it is safer)

Customization and Flexibility

A stock Promaster cargo van is like a big blank canvas. You can do anything you like with it. That’s why we’ve chosen the Promaster cargo van as the foundation for all of our builds, from the LV3 to the LV7.

Over the years, we’ve dialed in the different layouts for each of our pre-built van conversions depending on the available interior cubic feet. Therefore, each layout for the LV3, LV5, and LV7 is a little different.

Check out the LV3, LV5, and LV7 from DM Vans >>

Besides the unique intricacies of the different DM Van models, each comes with a standard assortment of amenities, all of which are seamlessly integrated into a high-quality and intentional design.

  • A sleep system that can comfortably accommodate one to two people
  • Kitchenette with running water, fully-electric cooktop, refrigerator, overhead storage, and LED lighting
  • Solar-powered electrical system with multiple smart lithium batteries, 3,000 watt inverter, 30 amp shore power converter, charger, battery monitor, multiple USB and 120-volt outlets
  • Ample interior storage compartments and exterior Class IV hitch receiver
  • Exterior showers as well as an interior toilet in all of our LV3, LV5, and LV7 vans
  • Supplemental heating system

Personalizing your DM Van

When we finish one of our expertly crafted van conversions, we become very proud of the final product. That’s because each one of our finished vans is 100% move-in ready and road-worthy as is.

However, we also recognize (and love) that our pre-built vans are just the starting point for further personalization.

  • Hang a plant: between the rear and outdoor windows, windshield, and window in the kitchenette, there’s plenty of natural light for a low-maintenance plant to thrive.
  • Install seat covers on the two fully rotating captain’s chairs, to extend the lifespan of the upholstery and add a personal touch.
  • Go for some mood lighting: additional lighting can easily be installed, plugged in, and powered by the electrical system.
  • Customize the storage space beneath the bed platform, aka “the gearage,” with whatever you need to facilitate your adventures, like bike racks and hooks for helmets, hanging space for climbing ropes or backpacks, storage totes, or a dog crate for your furry friend.
  • Hang up your favorite van-sized artwork or photographs.
  • Rugs help your van feel warmer, homey, and inviting. Blackout curtains and window covers are also good for privacy, not to mention they can insulate your living space.  

Reliability and Durability

The Ram Promaster is an industry-leading cargo van because it’s a high-quality, reliable, and durable vehicle. Plus, the Promaster’s design and construction are highly versatile and leave a lot of room for customizing and fine-tuning.

For those reasons, we’ve selected the Promaster as the building block of our lifestyle vehicle lineup. The Promaster complements our intentional and intricate designs and high-quality craftsmanship.

Each of our camper vans for sale in Colorado and throughout the US is built in compliance with industry leaders and federal regulators, including Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). This makes registering, financing, and insuring our vans super simple.

In addition, as a testament to our commitment to our work, every single DM Van comes with a one-year warranty on our build. 

The items we install come with their own manufacturer’s warranties. In addition, the Ram chassis comes with an extended five-year or 100,000-powertrain warranty. 

Should you run into issues related to our build, you can chat directly with our customer service team. No robots, just humans who want to get you back on the road. Our commitment to our build and service means you can trust you have all of the resources and knowledge needed before, during, and after your journey.

Call to say hello, tell a joke, or ask a question about one of our vans >>

Put Rubber to Road with DM Vans

The Ram Promaster is a great van by itself. It’s fuel-efficient, spacious, powerful, and reliable—ideal for tradesmen and delivery-based businesses.

But after a DM van overhaul, the Promaster is an excellent van– ideal for full-time digital nomads or weekend warriors.

That’s because, with an upfitted Promaster from DM Vans, you get to enjoy the fuel efficiency, spaciousness, and reliability that all Promaster vans have, along with a cunningly converted interior living space with all the amenities you need for living on the road.

All of that is done with a level of craftsmanship that only DM Vans can provide.

We look forward to getting you on the road! See you around the campfire.

-Dave & Matt

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