by Dave Boyer / Editing by AR Staff
One of Sportsmobile’s new addition to their RV lineup is being built around the front wheel drive Dodge Promaster utility vehicle.
With the newer European style looking vans flooding the market, the design follows what is found in the Mercedes-Sprinter based models over the Ford E-Series vans scheduled to be phased out over the next upcoming years. It’s likely you’ll see these around more as the market demands a replacement for the E-Series which was once the backbone of the ambulance and small cargo industry. Several RV outfitters have adopted the Promaster, and Sportsmobile is in the process of completing their first RV versions which will be made available to the public soon.
The trip I made in October of 2014 to Sportsmobile West was during the construction phase of the vehicle and the model I looked at was the low cut version which will have a typical electric penthouse (PH) canvas sided top designed to lift with the push of a button. I also looked at an empty hard top model that was waiting to be converted.
(Please note this was a quick 20 minute walk around so my info may be somewhat lacking in accuracy.)
In the picture above, you can see the high top version. One of the advantages of the ProMaster is its low floor base making easier entry and headroom is high enough for an average sized person to be able to stand freely. On the low top version with the top down there is still reasonable room and as you can see the PH will give you more space as well as a top bunk for added sleeping.
The PH top version will supply an ample air flow during the warmer season with its big open screen windows while the hard top may be better suited for winter use.
The inside of a non-converted van seems wider than the Sprinter but I never made any measurements to compare to and hopefully in the future I’ll be able to do a side by side comparison. I’m sure SMB will have the specs of both vehicles for future buyers but space also depends of the layout.
The Body lines have a square box look making it look less top heavy looking than the Sprinter although it will probably look much different when the PH top is installed. Even the hard top van appears to have a lower stance than its Sprinter counterpart however it could be an optical illusion.
Notice the height difference between the low top version pictured here and the high top just in front of it. Please note that this vehicle does not have PH top added. Once installed, the totally height will be similar to the hard top model.
The windows are typical awning style.
The rear door hinges are somewhat gaudy but allow the door to fully open180 degrees, possibly more.
The vehicle does sit low.
Although not designed for trail use, I still had reservation about the low slung propane inlet. I doubt most owners would have an issue with where it’s mounted, but I’d prefer a propane type door installed even though it involves punching another hole in the body. It appears that the propane port is a remote style that connects to the tank tucked up into the frame well above the port. I don’t know if this is a safety design but I always worry about anything hanging too low that a curb or rock can molest.
The rear suspension also sits very low.
The spare is mounted under the van and I don’t know if something is in the mix to put it on the rear bumper. A spare is rarely used for on road driving and keeping cost down is one of the Promaster’s accolades so I doubt there will be a change. Still you never know.
Again I believe the vehicle stance will be fine for an RV application.
Both water and electrical inlets are located in the body at the rear driver side of the vehicle.
It looked like the Promaster has both a backup alarm in the bumper but also has a backup camera at the rear.
The dash seems roomy enough but I never looked at what Dodge has to offer as high tech controls.
I had a hard time thinking these seats swivel and wonder if SMB has something else in store.
The cabinetry is very spacious on this build with the standard kitchen setup that SMB builds.
An area for a porta pottie or other storage.
I’m sure larger sized refrigerator can be ordered.
Another nice feature was below floor storage.
The cabinet slides opens from the rear when the rear barn doors are open.
A floor plate can be lifted to gain access if the barn doors are closed.
The rear dinette was also not installed yet.
This is also the main electrical area where the house battery power comes in to. I did not ask where the house battery or batteries are located.
The inverter on this model was housed under the driver Dinette seat while the water tank is on the other side.
The propane heater sat just behind the water tank at the rear passenger side.
The Promaster has rear air.
The kitchen area didn’t have a stove installed on this model but I’m sure it will be offered.
The sink and countertops had an elegant look. Above in various spots were SMB’s newer LED lighting.
They produce a nice light and can be positioned in any direction.
This van is equipped with solar.
In the picture above, the solar controller, inverter control and thermostat are installed.
The fuse panel is located at the driver side rear.
The Promaster has a distinct look and there is no doubt about that. It may take some getting used to by some but it seems to be the trend these days. As for weight and how it handles is something we’ll have to see but I do think it opens another door for SMB in future RV sales.
"But if the Promaster looks isn’t to your liking, SMB now has a 4×4 version of the Sprinter (shown in picture above.) Quite a different looking beast than the ProMaster. More on that in a later article."
Questions and Answers
I asked Sportsmobile West’s President, Jonathan Feld, a few questions about the ProMaster and these are the answers I got at the time of construction. Things may have changed since then.
how many pop top windows?
5…just like the Ford
Additional upper cabinets on the hard top?
Yes, similar to the Sprinter but not quite as large
Upper windows on the hard top?
Stepping from the road into the living area. Is there a step? Height?
There will be a step or running board option. I don’t have the specs on that yet.
Total height to the roof from the living quarter on the pop top with it down? With it up? On the hard top?
Down = about 6’. Not finalized yet. It will raise about 30” from there. The high roof has 74” interior height
Average width compared to the sprinter.
73” wide vs 69” wide on the Sprinter
Option for batteries? Standard 2×27 group? Blue sea separator?
Either the 4D or the group 27 will work. We have the 4D in the unit we are working on. Yes on the battery separator.
Inside marine head? Full inside shower?
Not 100% sure on these yet, but most likely yes
Fantastic fan roof types on both hard or PH top?
Hard top yes, not sure about PH top yet.
Gray water tank size?
Varies depending on plan. 8-12 G
Fresh water tank size?
10 – 20 gallons typically. Can do multiple tanks for more capacity.
Propane tank size?
Can the propane fill be moved?
Possibly, but it is still above the exhaust and other equipment below the van.
Fuel tank 24 Gal.?
Bumper backup alarm stock? Camera?
Yes, these are optional
Here are some engine, drivetrain, and other specs directly from Dodge:
- 3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT Engine
- 6-Speed Automatic 62TE Transmission
- OPTIONAL: 6-Speed Dual Active Drive Transmission
- Auxiliary Transmission Oil Cooler
- Brake Assist
- Disc Brakes – Front and Rear
- 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Disc Power Brakes
- Engine Oil Cooler
- Power Rack-and-Pinion Steering
- Suspension – Front Double A-Arms
- Suspension – Rear Beam Axle with Leaf Spring
- Advanced Front Airbags
- Dealer Activated Speed Limiter
- Electronic Roll Mitigation
- Electronic Stability Control
The Electronic Stability Control combines ABS brakes, All-Speed Traction Control and a stability system to give you the all-season capability of front-wheel drive with the performance of rear-wheel drive. It determines when to apply the brakes to one or more wheels, and when to reduce engine torque in critical driving situations. Always drive carefully, consistent with conditions. Please always wear your seat belt.
- OPTIONAL: Electronic Vehicle Tracking System
- Hill Start Assist
- OPTIONAL: ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System
- OPTIONAL: ParkView™ Rear Back-Up Camera
- Rear Back-Up Camera Prep
- Remote Keyless Entry
- OPTIONAL: Speed Control
- Supplemental Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- Supplemental Side-Curtain Front Airbags
- Tire Pressure Monitoring Display
- Traction Control
- Trailer Sway Damping
- Towing Capacity – Maximum+ 5,100 lb