I’ve wanted a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, having grown tired of hiring or renting cars whenever I need to travel.
Judging by the increasing numbers in their demand since 2012, I’m not alone in wanting a wheelchair van (1).
Like many people with disabilities, I didn’t know where to start.
After chatting with knowledgeable car friends and researching, I drew up a list of the best wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Read on for the complete list, plus why you’ll love these adaptive vehicles.
Table of Contents
- There are two variations of wheelchair-accessible vehicles: side entry and rear entry.
- The price of wheelchair vehicles depends on the ramp type, the car model, and the method of ramp deployment, among other factors.
- Pre-owned wheelchair-accessible vehicles are an excellent budget option if you cannot afford a new car.
Best Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Wheelchair users can choose from a variety of accessible vehicle solutions. I classified the different mobility vehicles by their wheelchair entry style.
There are two types of accessible vehicles:
- Side-entry vehicles
- Rear-entry vehicle
1. Side-Entry Vehicles
Side entry vehicles have side wheelchair ramps that enable access to the car.
The lower floor allows the user to be mobile and to sit at the front, in the middle, or even drive the car themselves.
See here a side-entry wheelchair vehicle in action, as explained by influencer Paul Sherry.
2. Rear Entry Vehicles
Rear entry vehicles have in-floor or fold-up ramps at the rear. Thanks to their position at the back, you don’t need an accessible conversion space to enter the car.
Here is a video of how rear-entry ramps in vehicles work.
The price depends on the ramp type, deployment, entry style, or car model. These are the models to consider:
1. Chrysler Wheelchair Accessible Van
This accessible van is the perfect option if you need a lot of space. It is large, with a seating capacity perfect for wheelchair users and family members.
The interior space allows for an expansive seating layout, which boosts the seating capacity. You also have maneuvering space.
2. Toyota Wheelchair Van
This Toyota side-entry conversion vehicle is an excellent ride option for people with disabilities.
You have options of an in-floor or fold-out ramp. The hybrid option is perfect for users keen on fuel efficiency.
3. Chevrolet Wheelchair SUV
If you wish to have an accessible vehicle with all the adaptive features and adequate space, this is the van for you.
The size of this SUV allows for additional features that make its accessibility standard top-notch. The Chevrolet Traverse can fit two wheelchair users.
4. Honda Handicap Accesible Van
The Braunability Honda Accessible van has an in-floor ramp with generous internal cabin space. It is an excellent blend of space, convenience, and style.
Here is a video review of The Honda Odyssey for your benefit:
5. Certified Pre-owned Vehicles
If you can’t afford a brand-new wheelchair-accessible vehicle, consider trying used models.
These accessible vehicles undergo rigorous inspections to ensure they are in perfect condition.
Once you purchase a pre-owned accessible vehicle, you have a 7-year service coverage if it has any issues.
The vehicles are usually of good quality and low mileage, so you don’t have to worry about their condition.
You can also choose different ramp styles, from rear entry ramps to manual fold-up ramps.
Choosing A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle – Things to Remember
What should you look for when choosing an accessible ride option? Most individuals with disabilities care about convenience.
The following are other things you also should consider.
1. Rear Entry Vs. Side Entry
When choosing an accessibility vehicle, you can pick either of the two options. Therefore, you need to know your needs before selecting.
Rear-entry vehicles require less parking space than side-entry vehicles. However, side-entry vehicles offer access to the middle section and the front seats.
A wheelchair user can even drive the vehicle. Discuss with your car dealer and know what you need before deciding between the two.
2. Take Your Time to Decide – Don’t Rush
You’ll probably use this mobility product for a long time. You, therefore, need to weigh your choice.
Research all the vans in the market before settling on one. Your dealer will come in handy here as they can help you select a car that will fit your needs.
3. Wheelchair Van Modification Vs. Ready Made Accessibility Vans
Some companies offer customization services that modify a regular car into a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (2).
If buying a ready-made can isn’t an option, you can consider this option.
4. Size Matters
Size matters when buying an accessibility vehicle. If you have a large wheelchair, you’ll probably need a spacious van.
Even with the best brand of wheelchair that is easy to move with, you’ll still need to consider the ease of entry into a van plus any comfort issues.
Also, you’ll need a bigger car if you have a large family.
5. Talk To People For References
There’s no better place to get feedback on a product than from a current customer.
Your dealer can arrange for you to speak to existing customers and learn about their experiences with the accessible vans.
That will help you make a better choice.
Check: How To Find Handicapped RV For Rent?
What does it mean when a vehicle is wheelchair accessible?
Accessible wheelchair vehicles have provisions that allow wheelchair users to enter and use their wheelchairs in the vehicle.
Which is better, side entry vans or rear entry vans?
Each of the two accessible vehicle options has its pros and cons. It is your needs that should determine your selection of a wheelchair van.
Are there wheelchair-accessible vans for rent?
Yes, you can rent wheelchair accessible van for short- or long-term use. Several companies offer these types of adaptive equipment for hire at different prices. It is costly, though.
Wheelchair-accessible vehicles aren’t merely wheelchair lifts.
The transit vehicle is one of the greatest inventions if you ask anyone with travel-limiting disabilities.
They allow someone to travel without being a nuisance to anyone, giving them a sense of independence.
Thankfully, there are many options for vans that offer accessibility for wheelchairs.
What options do you think are best for a disabled person living alone? Please share your answers in the comments down below.
- 1. Cullingham P. Design Process and Technology Implementation for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles [Internet] [A Thesis for the Degree of Master of Philosophy in Engineering]. [University of Exeter]; 2012. Available from: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/14857/CullinghamP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
- 2. Adapted Vehicles [Internet]. NHTSA. 2016. Available from: https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/adapted-vehicles