If you or a loved one is in the market for a handicap accessible vehicle, you probably have tons of questions about which type will be best for you.
Mobility vans increase the independence, freedom and comfort of those living with mild to severe physical disabilities. They come in a huge variety of types, sizes and designs in order to fit each passenger’s specific needs.
Typically, larger vehicles such as a SUVs, minivans or full-sized vans will be best for handicapped accessibility. All three types will have their own benefits depending on what you’re looking for. This article will give you an overview of the differences between the three types of mobility vehicles and give you a better idea of where to start your search.
Owning a mobility vehicle is a liberating experience you will not want to miss if you live with a disability. If you’re a caretaker or family member to someone who needs handicap accessible transportation, you will find an increase in the happiness and well-being of your loved one.
Wheelchair minivans are going the most commonly used handicap accessible vehicles on the market. They provide just enough space to hold a wheelchair comfortably and their sleek and easy drivability make them highly desirable. Handicap minivans are fuel-efficient and come with extremely high safety ratings. Makers such as Dodge/Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota produce some of the safest minivans on the road.
One of the reasons handicapped minivans are most commonly produced is due to their ability to add features that can help wheelchair users with just about any disability. Wheelchair minivans can be modified to have rear-entry or side-entry equipment lifts. Depending on what the specific health needs are for the passenger with a disability, a minivan can be adapted to serve just about any purpose.
Wheelchair minivans also come with sliding doors. This is a big help when exiting or entering the van on a wheelchair.
Full-Sized Handicap Van
One really nice benefit to a full-sized handicap van is their space! Full-sized mobility vans can hold not only the passenger in the wheelchair, but also the rest of the family or friends too! Additional passenger seating is extremely useful if you plan on using your van to transport more than just the person with the disability and their caregiver.
Another benefit to driving a full-sized wheelchair van is how much cargo room they offer. Wheelchairs can be considerably large and bulky. What if the passenger requires additional equipment such as a breathing machine or heart monitor? A full-sized conversion van will allow ample space for this extremely important machinery.
Additional headroom in full-sized handicap conversion vans allows passengers increased comfort in the interior cabin. If you plan on using your van for longer trips, such as vacations or family visits, a full-sized van may be the way to go.
Full-sized conversion vans also have the ability to hold double-post lifts. Since wheelchairs can be extremely heavy, depending on the size of the passenger you may need to purchase a stronger lift. Double post lifts are for wheelchairs that weigh up to 800 pounds. If you think your wheelchair may exceed the weight range of a standard lift, you will likely need a full-sized van that can maintain this type of lift.
Entering and exiting with a wheelchair is typically pretty easy in a full sized wheelchair van. However, be aware that if your van has doors that don’t slide, you may run into problems in confined spaces, such as certain parking lots.
Sport utility vehicles are the least common of the three types of larger sized vehicles that can be made mobility accessible. SUVs such as Ford Explorers are recently starting to be converted for wheelchair use. While SUVs may be sleeker and more compact, they offer the fewest benefits for handicap users. SUVs tend to be smaller, allowing only room for a wheelchair passenger who plans on driving the vehicle or sitting in the front passenger seat. In rare cases, a smaller mobility impaired passenger such as a child can sit in the second row.
Another downside to a converted handicapped SUV is the safety factor. SUVs are known for tipping over more easily than vans. Depending on the weight of the wheelchair, this may or may not be more of a safety liability.
The drivability and parking of SUVs is typically easy. However, remember when you open your doors you will need plenty of space to exit the vehicle using your lift. You may have difficulty entering or exiting the SUV in more confined parking spaces.
One last thing to consider if you’re looking into a wheelchair-equipped SUV is the type of lift you will need. For safety reasons, only side-entry lifts are possible in most SUVs. If you or a loved has a disability that requires more equipment, you will most likely need a rear-entry lift.
Overview – Comparison Chart
|Good for Heavy Equipment||Good for numerous passengers||High safety standards||Ability to use different types of lifts||Ease of entering and exiting lift|
|Full sized van||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Limited|
We hope this article shed a bit of light on some of the differences between handicap accessible SUVs, full-sized conversion vans and minivans. Once you decide which type of vehicle is best for your situation, be sure to research the different types of lifts and equipment you will need as well.
The following articles are a great place to start:
- Searching for the Right Mobility Vehicle for You
- In-Floor vs. Fold-Out Ramps in Mobility Vans
- Wheelchair & Mobility Van Glossary
Classic Vans, located in Hayward, California, specializes in helping customers find the perfect new or used wheelchair vans. We offer both full-sized and minivan mobility equipped vehicles. Contact us today to speak with one of our friendly mobility van experts and let us help you find the perfect affordable disability vehicle for you!