Driving The Big Red Van

The Big Red Van arrived with little fanfare.

Squealing brakes, like the sound of a preteen getting a text from her boyfriend, made me sit up and take notice. There’s a Big Red Van in my driveway. Someone pinch me.

I climbed in right away. Chuck, the kind retired gentleman who drops off vehicles for me to test, handed me the keys with a grin. “Be careful with her,” he said, as though we were talking about dating or ice sculptures.

The 2014 RAM ProMaster Work & Cargo Van has a massive V6 3.0L ECODIESEL I4 engine, can carry a 4,400 payload, and can tow 5,100 pounds. You can go 18,500 miles between oil changes, and if that doesn’t scream “impulse buy” to you, I’m not sure what will.

Ostensibly, the ProMaster is designed for a delivery business to transport their stuff from one point to another. Bags of rocks, printers, dinosaur bones, airplane parts. Circus performers, other delivery vans. All of the inhabitants of Rhode Island. The cargo area is so cavernous it feels like you are driving the Grand Canyon around. And, get this: I’ve driven a few Porsche’s in my time, but this thing is downright peppy. It sort of pushes you back in your seat, which is not something you’d normally equate with a diesel engine and small business delivery vehicles. Your heart skips a beat. You get tingly.

So what’s it like to drive? Pure heaven. If you want to record the next Mumford & Sons album by putting the guys in the back, you have that option available to you. Also, the acoustics are sublime, like an Icelandic opera house, resonating between sheets of metal with pristine clarity. I’m not sure if a business owner would buy the 2014 ProMaster Work & Cargo Van to enjoy the rear acoustics but they should consider that a possibility. In fact, the acoustics alone are worth every penny of the $28,630 base price. (Options like a full Jacuzzi™ in back or a real petting zoo cost extra.)

And, oh the cornering. Look out Audi. Good thing they painted the van red because it helped bystanders get out of the way as I went zig-zagging around town like a bat out of hell. I really had no idea the folks at Chrysler/Dodge/RAM had it in them to create this Porsche of delivery vehicles. In a few cases, driving a passenger around with me during the week, and right before they puked, several test participants told me they felt like they were riding around in a jet fighter. One that can help you transport garden plants. Or refrigerators. Or the entire cast of Beatles Love

I’m not going to oversell the 530 cubic feet of cargo capacity, but it’s freakishly spacious. I had my whole family back there, a living room entertainment system, carpeting, the pets, and a china hutch. We felt like we had room to expand. It became our second home.

By the end of the week, I formed an easy attachment to the Big Red Van. Apart from the spectacular fuel economy, spacious size, and high torque rating, the ProMaster just felt right. It’s a delivery vehicle forged by God himself. I would buy one just for the racing potential.

When Chuck finally came one day to swap vehicles, I held onto the keys for a second before handing them over, wiped away a tear, and thought long and hard about how much I would miss those diesel fumes and the Brembo brakes, screeching with delight like a nicotine-infused squirrel. My test ended too soon and too fast, like life itself. The ProMaster left it’s mark on me. Next time, I’m asking for a two week loan. And the Jacuzzi.


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