Being in a wheelchair means you have a very specific list of demands, and requests for your vehicle. The main focus is of course how you will get in and out of the vehicle. There are some other aspects to keep in mind however, as you will find in our list of criteria.
Clearly each person’s needs’ will be different, but here are some things to keep in mind as you search.
- The vehicle can’t be too high or too low to the ground
- It must be able to be fitted with a wheelchair ramp
- There must be enough cargo space to store your wheelchair
- The interior must feel roomy
- The dash needs to be well laid out keeping everything within reach
- A crossover, minivan, or sedan is usually best
Top five vehicles
This list of vehicles may be exactly what you’re looking for to make your life, and driving a whole lot easier. They focus on space, and the ability to refit them for what you require.
Honda Odyssey – The Odyssey is a versatile minivan that can really be transformed into whatever you need. Where this vehicle stands out is in its height. Because the seats are at hip level, it makes it quite convenient to get in and out of. You can also look at having a ramp installed. This model tends to be middle of the road in pricing, while not as high as the Toyota Sienna, it's more expensive than the Kia Sedona. Fuel economy wise, it’s right on par with the Sedona, but its’ safety and reliability ratings are among the highest.
Toyota Sienna – Here’s another minivan that is positioned at the same convenient height. It has remote doors that can be opened and closed at the touch of a button. Once inside, you’ll find there is lots of room to accommodate a full family, as well as your wheelchair. You can also look at having a ramp installed. On the negative side, this is easily the most expensive minivan on the list, especially once you factor in any changes you need to make. As well its’ fuel economy is just mid-range compared to the others.
Toyota RAV4 – Here’s a great example of a crossover SUV that is situated at a convenient height. The ride is quite stable and comfortable so you know you won’t be bouncing around in your seat. Fuel economy wise, you’ll find that if you get the two wheel drive model it’s better than the Kia Sedona. With this vehicle you can look forward to 22/28 mpg (city/highway). Pricing ranges on this one depending on the model you choose. The base model is more affordable than the Toyota Sienna.
Kia Sedona - We're back to a minivan, and in the case of the Kia Sedona you'll find it to be the most affordable option on the list. Buyers also love the impressive 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, by far the best in the bunch. Again you’ll have room for the full family, plus you, and your wheelchair and still not feel crowded. You can look at having a ramp installed on this vehicle as well.
Scion xB - The first thing that stands out about this van is its shape. It’s rather boxy in design, but this proves to be quite convenient for those who require a wheelchair. In fact, it has specifically been built to address the needs of mobility-challenged motorists. This one can easily accommodate a rear-deploying ramp, but keep in mind its height is that of a minivan. What this means is that if you are a tall wheelchair user, it's not going to be ideal. As far as fuel economy goes, it's quite average getting 22/28 mpg city/highway, which is comparable to the Toyota RAV4.
As you shop for a vehicle it’s always wise to keep in mind that it may not be exactly the way you want it from the start. Think of it more as a blank slate, and ask if it is capable of transforming into what you need for a reasonable price.
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