So you’ve made the decision to move forward and start a van build, but are now faced with your first tough question, which van should I purchase? There are a number of important things to consider when picking a van and they all depend on what you are going to do with it and what your needs are.

  • Is it stealthy?
  • How much space do I actually have to work with for a build?
  • What is the gas mileage like?
  • Is it hard to drive?
  • How much does it cost?

These are all valid questions and some of the things we’ll look at in our first article of a series for helping you figure out what van to use as your base. Today we’ll be looking at the Ram Promaster 159-inch wheelbase (WB).

The Ram Promaster 159WB is the longest wheelbase model that Ram currently has on the market. It comes in a standard and extended version, and two trims; 2500 and 3500. Payload is probably the main thing you will need to be concerned with when deciding between these two trims. The 3500 will give you an extra ~400 pounds of cargo capacity to play with, but you will also take a hit on fuel consumption so keep that in mind when deciding. The 159 is only available with one roof height, has a 3.6L V6, and is FWD. One last deciding factor for this model is whether or not you want gas or diesel. You can pick up a Promaster with either engine, but it will affect the price you pay. Now, onto the good stuff!

So really, how large is the Ram Promaster 159 WB?

The Promaster 159WB is a great size van if your goal is full-time van life. Bumper to bumper, the van is 236” (the EXT model is 250”). So you’re asking yourself, at almost 20 feet in length, can I deal with this size?

Ram Promaster 159

The answer is most likely yes, but it comes down to what you’re used to and comfortable with. A full size truck like the Nissan Titan is about 232 inches, and some of the Ford F150/F250 models range from 210 inches to 260 inches. So if you are concerned about length, it’s really not that different than what you’ll see out on the highway on a typical day.

Ram Promaster 159

The turning radius and short front end on this van makes it easier to drive than you would think. The van fits in most normal-sized parking spots and with the back up camera, getting in and out of spots (even parallel parking) is doable, and gets easier as you get comfortable with driving the van.

Ram Promaster 159 Parking Stall

The thing that makes these vans stand out is the height. The 159WB only comes in the tall height version. The overall height of the van is 99.4 inches, so a little over 8 feet. Again, what does this really mean, is it too big? Most likely the answer is no, the height is just fine. But it depends if you have to fit in a parking garage or anything similar where the clearance is under 8 feet. Some drive thrus, car washes, bridges, etc may also be off limits, but just something to keep in mind. If you go with the tall model in any of the promaster models, know your height, learn it, love it, memorize it, and proceed, you’ll thank me later when your solar panels are still in tact!

Ram Promaster 159 Height Comparison
Note: Person in photo is 5’11”

What are the interior dimensions of the Ram Promaster 159WB?

This is probably the question you’ve been trying to find the answer for, what kind of space do I actually have to work with? Will my bed fit? Can I stand in it? The Ram site has a simple image with some dimensions listed.

These are helpful if you are just starting to get a feel for what size is going to work best, but they aren’t helpful when you are trying to create a detailed floor plan and not waste a single inch of space. I’ve outlined some more detailed dimensions below.

Length
Rear door to front 146″
Rear door (minus gap) to front 142″
Rear corner to wheel well xx
Wheel well to front xx
Wheel well to side door xx
Door size 51.5″
Width
Between wheel well 55.8″
Between side panels 74″
Height
Floor to ceiling 76″
Floor to middle cross beam 36″
Floor to top of wheel well 17″

Ram Promaster 159 Interior Height
Note: Person in photo is 6′

What is the Ram Promaster 159WB gas mileage?

Ah, the age old question that nobody seems to know and commercial vehicles aren’t required to list.

Ram Promaster 159 Gas Engine: 15-17 MPG

Ram Promaster 159 Diesel Engine: 23-25 MPG

These numbers come from a mix of city and highway driving for the past 3 months. Your mileage may vary, but our research shows these numbers are pretty consistent with what others are reporting.

Is this the right van for me?

That’s for you to decide! You can pick up 159WB Promasters for about $31,000 brand new and as low as $20,000 depending on what kind of miles it has. The average used price seems to be about $25,000 – $27,000. The diesel engine will add about $4,000 to the price if that’s the engine you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Easy to drive
  • Tight turning radius
  • Comfortable ride
  • Decent MPG for the size/payload
  • Cargo area has almost 90 degree angled walls which makes it easier to do build outs
  • Roof height allows for most people to stand
  • Width of the cargo area gives you the option of building your bed sideways which can save interior space for other things

Cons

  • Some blind spots if you have no windows on the passenger side
  • May have issues with visibility if you are taller because you can’t lower the seats
  • Not as stealthy as the smaller models
  • Some people don’t like the aesthetic

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you move a little bit closer to getting that van complete! Make sure to check out the rest of our articles on potential vans if you are still deciding on what van to purchase.