Chrysler's Van Plan
Chrysler is still in limbo about which vans it might get from Fiat. The Sprinter took over from the Ram van in 2003 but it ended up with Mercedes in the divorce, the C/V Grand Caravan in disguise isn't really a commercial alternative.
Among those in contention are the smaller front-drive Doblo, the midsize front-drive Ducato (pictured), and the bigger rear-drive Iveco Daily. The Doblo has a GVWR up to 2200 pounds and a max cargo length of 7.5 feet; it is 48 inches wide between the wheelwells. It's offered with various powerplants overseas, including a Euro V emissions 135-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbodiesel that delivers about 240 lb-ft of torque and 40 mpg highway mileage in Fiat's testing.
The Ducato ranges up to 8800 pounds GVWR, has up to a 159-inch wheelbase, and a cargo area 160 inches long, 85 inches high, and 56 inches between the wheelwells, and since it's front drive, the cargo deck is just 22 inches from the ground. That's lower than a Honda Odyssey's. Europe's biggest engine is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel of about 160 horsepower and 300 lb-ft, and service intervals beyond 20,000 miles.
Top GVWR on American-market vans are 9500 for the E-Series, 9600 for the Express/Savana, 9900 for the Nissan NV, and 11,050 for the Sprinter dually. Ford's likely replacement for the E-Series offers up to a 5000-pound payload on duallies, a 200-horsepower/350-pound-foot 3.2-liter diesel, and on many single-rear-wheel models, a choice of front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive. That's about where the Iveco Daily ranks, with a top GVWR of 15,000 pounds. We think Chrysler should bring the Ducato first.