2013 Fiat Ducato Cargo Van Review

this is not the 2014 RAM Promaster by Chrysler and Fiat this is actually a 2013 Fiat Ducato so if this isn’t a ram promaster and the Fiat Ducato like this is not sold in America then why are we looking at one well the answer is simple because

this gives us the best idea of what that Promaster will be like when it finally lands in America in just a few short months Chrysler tells us that production will start right around July 1st 2013 and we should expect to see them in dealerships

within a relatively short period of time after that the Promaster is more than just an Americanized ducat oh I mean yes that is what it is but in order to Americanize it Fiat didn’t just realign craft structures and add some cup holders

inside instead they went back to the drawing board and they decided what could we do to this existing vehicle to make it more desirable to Americans and the big thing they did was increase its cargo capacity we’re up front for one very important reason the Fiat Ducato and therefore the RAM Promaster is a full-size unibody front-wheel drive van you did hear that right it’s a front-wheel

drive full-size cargo van with a very large payload capacity I might add but we’ll go over that later that may sound like the Ford Transit van I’m not talking about the Transit Connect the little baby when I’m talking about the big old full-size Ford Transit man that sold in Europe by the time Ford converts that into an American van the T series that we expect to see in 2014 some time they will have converted it from a front-wheel drive vehicle like this Duke Auto to a rear-wheel drive vehicle for American tastes so it’s a very different flavor we aren’t really gonna dive under the hood because there’s not a whole lot to see under there suffice it to say there is a three liter four-cylinder diesel

engine under there with a robotic manual transmission that’s not a automatic transmission with a manual mode this is a manual transmission with an automatic mode very different concept going on there used quite heavily in Europe we’re told that the pro master for America will also have a 3.6 liter v6 engine and a regular automatic transmission but we’ll know more about that when we get our hands on one the Duke Otto may have kind of a funny nose but there’s a reason for this black plastic madness and that’s it wraps all the way around so that

way if you hit something in your van it’s a lot cheaper to replace a lot easier to replace it’s also less noticeable if you just don’t want to replace it the second thing is that they house a lot of the crash structure areas in this section of the nose that way they’re more easily replaceable in an accident saves an awful lot of time and an awful lot of money and we all know that commercial drivers are not terribly careful why would you want a front-wheel drive car Govan there’s a very good reason for that and it’s right inside this door

this load floor is 7 inches lower to the ground than in the nearest American competitor and the Ford Transit full-size van or t-series in America isn’t going to change that very much because it’s rear-wheel drive so under this fan you won’t find a drive shaft it doesn’t need one instead we get all that extra room for cargo carrying and if I step inside here we’re in the high roof version there’s a factory high roof and a factory low roof available this inside ceiling is six feet four inches from the load floor Ford is expected to offer a high roof version of the t-series van from the factory next year and Nissan already offers a high roof factory version of the NV 2500 and 3500 series cargo vans

but there’s an important consideration you figure if those start off the ground seven inches more than this and the inside is the same height then they’re going to be a great deal taller that was really born out the last time we had the high roof version of the Nissan NV cargo van because the person that had it before us smacked it into a parking garage and did some good front end damage on that van that had to be repaired that’s a little bit less likely to happen in the de kado because it’s only about eight point four feet off the ground it’s a little too early to tell but we do not expect this three passenger arrangement to survive the Americanization of the Fiat Ducato again we should

know a little bit more as we get closer to the on sale date of the new Promaster over here in the Duke Otto we get a standard fiat radio again this interiors going to be nothing like the new Promaster so don’t really pay too much attention here we will of course get an air bag for the American market supposedly some of these nifty cargo storage areas may survive the transition we’ll also get a few cup holders the overall profile of the vehicle however and these windows is likely to remain the same well Chrysler has said that certain things are likely to change like we’re gonna get a different instrument cluster and we’re also gonna get those new UConnect radio modules certain things like

this telescoping but not tilting steering wheel are likely to remain the driver’s seat is a manual seat but it does have height adjustability with these two levers here that’s rear of the seat up and down this is the front of the seat up and down this is our parking brake over here we have a recline knob and a lung our support knob [Music] [Laughter] [Music] there’s something else to consider and that’s the distance between these rear wheel wells we have a standard American paladin here with about 3000 pounds on it well that does sound like a lot for a van Christ was telling us that the Americanized version of the fiat ducato will actually be able to carry about 2,000 pounds more in its highest configuration so just about 5,000 pounds of payload capacity but you’ll notice that between these rear wheel wells we have an awful lot of room there’s actually more room in this rear cargo compartment than there is in the competing GM full-size van that’s thanks to that high roof thanks to the low floor

but also thanks to a very wide body as I said the Fiat Ducato does not use an automatic transmission it also does not use a dual clutch transmission so it’s not going to drive like a Volkswagen or even a Fiat product that has one of those fancy new dual clutch transmissions instead this drives more like someone driving a manual transmission fairly well the shifts are fairly slow compared to a dual clutch transmission or even a regular automatic transmission but they’re very firm very definite just like a regular old manual transmission would feel it feels like someone is driving along and you’re in first gear and then you’re in neutral and then now you’re in second gear that’s that’s what the shift quality is like not really a problem per se in a commercial vehicle in fact the reason that Fiat does this is because manual transmissions are much more reliable

than automatics is a lot less to go wrong there’s no torque converter so it’s a lot more efficient than a regular automatic as well and in general clutch lifetime is huge when the car is doing the shifting for you because the car knows exactly how to slip the clutch and blend this little bit close but most importantly when not to slip the clutch so your clutch lifetime in this type of vehicle is expected to be a great deal longer than it would be in a traditional manual transmission it’s unlikely to need to get replaced for at least one hundred and something thousand miles even under heavy loads and even does need to get replaced it should be fairly inexpensive because it’s a regular old single closed unit we’re on a fairly slight Hill but we do have 30 100 pounds in the rear now no Fiat Ducato is going to win any stoplight races not with a three liter turbo diesel under the hood but we’ll floor it see how this really does you can see take off from a stop at first gear is fairly leisurely because

it does have to slip the clutch just a bit help get us up the hill I think that on very steep hills this could be a little bit of a problem it might be an area where the v6 might have a slight advantage thanks to this traditional automatic transmission again we won’t really know until that Pro master comes to the US now we’re going to get on the freeway here and see exactly how that is hopefully that truck next to me is going to go faster than that because it will take me a while to get on the freeway it probably doesn’t know that we are floored we’ve now hit about 70 kilometers an hour now or at 80 so I’m really bad at kilometers to miles per hour transmission out of transitions or translations I’ll just have to post a little banner at the bottom to tell you what that’s like we finally hit 100 kilometers an hour which is around 62 miles an hour or so and now we’re at a hundred and ten kilometers an hour which is about the speed limit on this roadway on the flip side that diesel engine is going to give you much better fuel economy than that v6 gasoline engine would and that’s really something that’s been missing in this commercial vehicle segment for a long time in America

is decent fuel economy if you look at the American competition we have a host of v8 engines that are very large some of them have four-speed automatic some of them have safe speed automatics and you buy a General Motors fan but the v6 options typically only have that old four-speed automatic if you look at even the new Nissan NV van it really didn’t have fuel economy in mind because it has Nissan’s fairly thirsty v6 engine as well as they’re very thirsty 5.7 liter v8 and they’re both mated to a fairly old 5-speed automatic which is not Nissan’s latest transmission bright quality and the new kata is unexpectedly Pleasant it’s definitely better than a GM full-size man when it’s empty and even though we have 3,100 pounds in the rear it’s really a fairly nice ride out here on the road the de kado also drives in a more car-like manner than most full-size vans which are based on trunk chances they have a a definite sharp light feeling turning circles also fairly advantageous in this vehicle the longest Fiat

has about a forty foot turning radius which is a decent amount smaller than those extended GM cargo vans climbing up highway 17 right now which is a moderate Mountain incline in the Bay Area and it’s obvious that the diesel has a lot of low-end torque because this vehicle feels a great deal snappier then your average gasoline vehicle with a 3,000 pound load in the back in fact my own SUV which is a GMT 360 SUV from General Motors 275 horsepower 275 pound feet of torque with a similar load and a trailer attached to it it’s roughly about the same amount of weight you know for the engine to be pulling does a decent amount worse on this highway than this Fiat Ducato does that being said there are some expectations you’re going to need to adjust because the Fiat Ducato is not going to behave like a General Motors 6.6 liter twin-turbo v8 turbo-diesel

monster of course on the road but it is entirely acceptable and it’s entirely example for your average load but the real benefit is that we just stopped by to fill up this vehicle with diesel fuel and we averaged about 20 miles per gallon and Nick’s driving so far we haven’t had this do column for very long this week it’s only been about 100 miles or so but still 20 miles per gallon average and our mixed driving test is very good also means that we’ve been averaging above 20 miles per gallon on the highway even though we’re at American highway speeds of 65 to 70 miles an hour in fact by my estimates on the highway we’ve been getting about 25 to 26 miles per gallon even though we have that 3,000 pound load in the back that is of course on level driving now that we’re climbing this mountain our average is dropping really quite rapidly but I still expect us to average about 15 or 20 miles per gallon on this round trip up this hill and that’s much better than you’d find in any gasoline fan in America right now I was a little bit concerned with how a European band with a 3 liter turbo diesel under the hood would handle American roads American speeds and American loads in the back but this Fiat Ducato has really surprised me it not only feels very planted on the road even with this load in the back which is more than I can say about certain

American cargo vans and thanks that load being you know more than 6 inches closer to the ground that really helps not walking for you making the vehicle feel very planted on these winding mountain roads but this 3 liter turbo diesel has an awful lot of torque it really makes a great partner climbing these hills this is definitely better in terms of acceleration with this kind of weight in the back then a wide number of gasoline vehicles that I convention definitely better than my own personal vehicle which is a GMT 360 series SUV from General Motors with the inline 6 engine 275 horsepower about 275 coffee to torque and when towing a trailer with this kind of weight in the back the total vehicle weight trailer and vehicle is about the same as we’re pulling right now definitely does not feel as responsive on these hills as this Fiat Ducato of course right now we’re going 80 kilometers an hour and if my math works out right that’s a around 50 miles an hour or so we’re not really accelerating a whole lot on this hill

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