From the street, you may be hard pressed to tell the difference between the new 2022-MY Ram ProMaster from the 2021 model year. But under the skin there’s a world of difference, said Dave Sowers, head of Ram Commercial, during a recent briefing on the full-size van for the Bobit fleet team.
The safety, efficiency, and productivity enhancements for 2022 involve carrying existing technologies from Stellantis’s passenger vehicle models into the commercial vehicle market. “We've addressed the high priorities for commercial customers to help them be more efficient in how they work with the vehicle and make it more secure for them,” Sowers said.
One of the biggest upgrades to the 2022 ProMaster is in the powertrain, which goes from a six-speed transmission to Stellantis’s nine-speed automatic transmission for front wheel drive. “This is really a quantum leap in transmissions to a state-of-the-art electronically shifted transmission,” he said.
With the transmission’s increased efficiency along with its lighter weight, a new electric parking brake, and electric power steering, ProMaster’s fuel economy has improved by almost 10%, Sowers said.
Moving into the cab, Sowers explained that the instrument cluster, steering wheel controls, HVAC interface, and infotainment system have all been updated. ProMaster went from a five-inch touchscreen to a seven-inch version for 2022, with an option for a 10-inch screen. “The interior and the dash are a significant evolution of where we were with ProMaster,” he said.
A phone shelf with wireless charging is also new for 2022.
Making its way to ProMaster from other models is Uconnect 5, the latest version of Stellantis’s connected vehicle platform, with five times faster processing speed than the previous one. wireless Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard.
The new Uconnect system can also pair two phones to Bluetooth at the same time. Users can now set up driver profiles — up to five per vehicle — that remember preferences for HVAC, phone, and other controls, and allows for customizable instrument clusters.
“In a commercial environment with multiple drivers from day to day or even within a day, you now have the ability to have those profiles saved in the system, and they can be changed when you start up the vehicle,” Sowers said.
Other driver productivity features include replacing the bladed key with a key fob and push-button start. The fob works with ProMaster’s new-for-22 proximity entry system, which is divided into zones. The front two passenger doors constitute a zone, and the cargo area doors are another zone. This allows drivers to enter and exit the doors in either zone without having to unlock those in the other zone.
“That’s very beneficial when you're working in urban environments or on work sites and you have a lot of valuable packages or equipment in in the van,” Sowers said.
Sowers divided new safety enhancements into on-the-road and those involving low speeds.
In the low-speed category, the electric park brake is now standard. The previous park brake used a manually actuated cable that required the driver to pull the brake cable to engage it. Because the electric park brake is activated electronically, “That allows us to deploy the brake when the situation makes sense to do so,” he said.
The electric park brake engages if the vehicle’s speed is less than five miles per hour, the driver’s door is open, and the safety belt is unbuckled. Sowers gave an example of a delivery driver that makes a stop, gets distracted, and exits the van without putting it in park. In this case, the electric brake will engage and hold the vehicle.
Ram also added available front park sensors along with the rear park sensors that are already available.
The backup camera system now has a bigger, higher resolution display with dynamic gridlines overlaying the view.
Buyers can option a new digital rearview mirror as well as a 360-degree camera view. “That's a big improvement in and of itself, just being able to see behind the vehicle like you would in a sedan or a small SUV,” Sowers said.
On-the-road safety includes the latest in ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) technology.
The 2022 ProMaster features Traffic Sign Recognition, which uses the camera from the forward collision warning system to pick up visible traffic signs and display them in the instrument panel. “It’s a good thing to know the most recent speed limit sign that you've passed to avoid getting pulled over,” he said.
Blind spot monitoring and cross path detection carry over as options from the previous model year.
New for 2022, the electric power steering enables active safety lane centering. Paired with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control — which will be available in March — the van will be able to slow down, speed up, and maintain its lane when the road markings are available. That’s achieving Level 2 autonomy, with drivers still keeping their hands on the steering wheel.
“We've put a lot of work into ProMaster that wouldn't be big news if we did them in the SUV space,” Sowers concluded. “But the way it's executed in ProMaster, we think they’re very meaningful for the commercial customer.”