Roadtrek converts Ram ProMaster into a cushy, spacious campervan
Canadian camper van specialist Roadtrek has launched the all-new Zion, a compact camper built atop the Ram ProMaster. The Zion's open interior layout accommodates gear like bicycles and kayaks in a wide center aisle, then serves as a roomy home away from home at camp. The camper van seamlessly combines feature-packed shelter with toy-hauling utility, no racks or trailers necessary.
How to get you, your spouse or best friend, and all your favorite sports gear into the great outdoors for a long weekend or week+ vacation? It's a question that gets answered with a lot of innovative camper designs, from small, lightweight trailers like the Mogo Freedom, to truck modules like the XPCube, right on up to bus-sized RVs with sports car-engulfing drawers, like those from Volkner and triple-axled expedition vehicles with hydraulic bike lifts ala the Global XRS 7200.
Roadtrek proposes something sitting smack in the middle of those small and XXL extremes: a camper van with an extended center aisle designed for gear-carrying utility. Unlike Roadtrek's other Class B motorhomes, based on vans like the Mercedes Sprinter, the ProMaster-based Zion does away with the rear furniture, allowing the center aisle to extend right to the double rear doors. This provides easy loading for bicycles, kayaks and other gear. The extended center aisle isn't a brand-new feature, but Roadtrek tells us that it's been a long time since it's offered a camper van with such a layout, so it's essentially revived the feature for the Zion.
It's easy to see how the full-length center aisle adds utility and versatility when compared to more crowded, cozy camper van interiors, like those seen on the other members of Roadtrek's lineup. Similar to the adjustable rear seat on the Volksleisure or removable camper modules of the Bett Mobil, the Zion's accessible load floor strikes a balance between comfortable, fully equipped camper and practical, stuff-haulin' van. Based on Roadtrek's description of early sales, it appears to be a popular balance.
"We had orders from our dealers almost instantaneously," VP of sales Paul Cassidy said of introducing the Zion in December. "The Zion hit the market with so much intensity that dealers are writing deals with retail customers without having seen one."
Beyond its full-length center aisle, the Zion is a fully equipped camper van with a permanent bathroom with shower; kitchen with standard 5 cu ft (141.5 L) refrigerator, propane stove and microwave; and up to 42 cu ft (1,189 L) of storage capacity. It sleeps three on a combination of optional single front bed and king-size bed converted from the dual sofas in back. The rear king bed stretches over the center aisle, meaning you'll have to keep bicycles or other gear outside or otherwise stored at night.
The Zion's standard equipment list shows that the van is designed for keeping comfy on the road. The list includes an 11,000-BTU roof-mounted air conditioner, a 36,000-BTU instant hot water system and a 12-ft (3.7-m) power exterior awning. Also standard is a 7-US gal (25 L) propane tank, 400A AGM battery and 2,000W inverter, 36.5-US gal (138 L) fresh water tank, and over 30 US gallons (114 L) of gray/black water holding. Options include a generator, 200W solar charging system and 22-in HD TV. The base Ram ProMaster features a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6, Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system, standard back-up camera and stability control suite.
Roadtrek introduced the Zion at the National RV Trade Show last December and began production earlier this year. The camper starts at US$86,931.
The ProMaster should prove a natural for American camper van conversions. Introduced at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, the van is based on the Fiat Ducato, the much-awarded undefeated champion of European camper van conversions. According to Fiat Professional, two out of every three European camper van conversions is a Ducato. The ProMaster may not have quite the same level of success as the Ducato, given that US Type B motorhome (camper van) sales lag far behind larger Type A and Type C models, but it should prove a viable competitor to campers based on Mercedes Sprinters, Ford Transits and other more established vans. Manufacturers including Winnebago have also launched ProMaster-based campers.
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@ The Skud. Besides depreciation, which is very high for RV's, there's also annual vehicle registration fees, the cost of propane for the stove and fuel to drive the vehicle and any fees for entering and parking at outdoor facilities. And if you want Internet or tv services at the park, those are extra also.
We now have a 2016 4x4 Sprinter we are building into the next gen camper for our needs. The van cost $53k and we will spend another $10-20k to build it out. We intend to keep the vehicle for at least ten years. The freedom to travel and be secure, no matter the weather or terrain, is worth the cost to us. YMMMV