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Toyota Rampvan: A Closer Look

Posted by on Friday, January 16th, 2009

Toyota Rampvan:  Taking a Trip to Visit

Just before Christmas, I took a trip up to Jordan Toyota in Mishawaka, IN with Troy Schultz, our Entervan/Rampvan Product Manager.  We went to shoot a quick video with Sarah Donohue, who is an Account Executive and Toyota's "Mobility Champion" at the dealership.  Our goal was to learn more about the Toyota Sienna, and how it's features enhance our Rampvan conversion. We intended to create the video to educate our dealers, but as we were shooting it occurred to me that this information would be very helpful for anyone considering a purchase of a Toyota Rampvan.  And that's why you see it here on the blog – hopefully the short video will give you a better idea of what makes the Toyota Rampvan stand out.

Toyota Sienna Proves to be a Great Minivan!

This project was pretty enlightening for me, because at BraunAbility we typically focus only on what we add to the wheel chair van – the lowered floor and the automatic ramp.  So hearing what the "original" van is all about from an expert was very interesting and helpful.  The "user-friendly" engine compartment and the fire-retardant in the hood liner were two features that really stood out for me. I'd like to thank Sarah for helping us out – she really knows her stuff and was a great sport in putting up with us!  If you have any additional questions on the Toyota Sienna, feel free to ask below.  By the way, Jordon Toyota is a beautiful facility – if you live in the area I highly recommend that you stop by.  Just try to get there on the days the massage therapist is on duty!

17 thoughts on “Toyota Rampvan: A Closer Look

  1. Jack Post author

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for your note! We are always looking for practical mobility solutions. Unfortunately in this case, lowered-floor minivans and AWD/4WD simply do not go together. Depending on your father’s needs and his level of ability, a full-size van with a 4WD aftermarket kit may be the best solution.

    To repeat some information from above in this thread:

    On FWD (front wheel drive) vans, there is no drive shaft running from the front-mounted engine to the rear axle – this fact allows us to lower the floor to obtain the necessary headroom inside the van. AWD (all-wheel drive) vans have a drive shaft, so it is simply impossible to lower the floor for wheelchair access. Even if there was some way to re-route the shaft beneath the lowered floor (which there isn’t), there would not be enough clearance between it and the road to make it practical.

    Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. I would recommend visiting your local dealer as well to see if they have any ideas for you.

    Best,

    Jack

  2. Carol

    I really need an AWD or 4WD ramp option for my dad too! We live in the mountains of Western Maryland. Come on Braun. Figure it out. The population is aging!

  3. Lance

    It would be a pleasure!
    I really hope that the Braun lift we are looking at will work. The 4×4 W.A.V.E. (wheelchair accessible van for expeditions) will debut at the SEMA show in Nov, then take myself (an amputee) and another disabled person (we will start taking applications soon) to Baja Mexico then to more shows, trips and events over the coming years.
    I really am looking forward to seeing how the lift works in the backcountry as we take more disabled folks out for their first 4×4 and camping experience.
    You or anyone else can contact us info AT disabledexplorers DOT org anytime.
    Thanks for keeping this blog alive as an interactive resource for everyone, nice work.

  4. Jack Post author

    Hi Lance,

    THanks for the comment, Nor-Cal is a great dealer! Very cool website too, I might like to do a feature on Disabled Explorers on the blog. Would you be interested in talking to us about it?

    Jack

  5. Lance

    Nor-cal Mobility has worked with Sportsmobile West to build a number of full size 4×4 accessible vans. I am currently having one built and they really know what they are doing.
    I am looking at the Braun Vangater but it doesn’t extend enough so it will be the Millineum I think in the end.
    Lots of options, gas or diesel and you can camp in it also :)

  6. Keith

    Hi Jack,

    I think we talked once or twice on the phone, I wanted to day thanks for really helping me in that situation.

    I love the video, I think it is great. I was so disseminated when I received my Toyota. The dealer barely could explain the modifications, much less the chassis of the Toyota.
    And as a former New Car Sales manager, I thought I just paid this guy what?
    Now I do have another question. I see that the vans you showed have the flip up console on the drivers seat. I have an 2007 XLE With the moon roof. I was told that was not avalible or an option from both the local Toyota Dealer and the Mobility Dealer.
    I have seen them on eBay and other places, and am wondering if I could install it on my van. My wife and I are always fighting over the one in the dash, and it is normally both of us in the van.
    I just haven’t bought one yet, because they are not cheap either.

    Thanks Much,
    Keith

  7. Burnie

    Hello Jalynn,

    Good to hear from you again.

    There is a recall on some 2007 Toyota Rampvans. Notification was sent to dealer. Notification was also sent to the customer if we were provided contact information, by dealer or customer . If your vehicle was bult before 8/27/07 it is part of the recall and may need repair. If you will provide me the VIN I can tell you for certain whether or not your vehicle is part of the recall.

    If your vehicle is part of the recall you need to contact your selling dealer to set up an appointment for inspection. If repairs ar needed they will make the repairs at no charge to you. If you are unable to return to the selling dealer, any Braun Rampvan dealer can perform the inspection and do the repair, if needed.

    You may obtain the nearest dealer from our web site, http://www.braunability.com, or by calling 1-800-The Lift.

    Sincerely,
    Burnie B Blackmon, Jr
    Assistive Technology Specialist

  8. Jalynn

    Hi, I have a 2007 Toyota Sienna by Braun handicapped ramp van. I happen to see online that there is a govt recall on the 2007 due to chassis problems. Any way to know why I wasn’t contacted by factory about the recall and maybe not all 2007 Siennas are effected?

  9. Jack Post author

    Hi Pete,

    An aftermarket 4WD kit for a full size van is something I didn’t think of for Phil’s situation. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even aware they existed. Can you give Phil any more info on it here, and have you done one of these conversions in the past?

    Thanks for posting,
    Jack

  10. Jack Post author

    Phil,

    Yes, the roof could be raised, but that would leave you with a few issues:

    1. Without lowering the floor, the wheelchair user would sit too high to see out of the van’s windows. Also, it would be necessary to increase the height of the door opening with a raised door kit in order to fit through it in your chair. I can’t say for certain, but I’m not aware of a raised roof kit for minivans that would equal the amount of head clearance we get by lowering the floor.

    2. With the floor at the “normal” height, the ramp angle would be prohibitively steep. The only way to decrease the slope would be to lengthen the ramp, and the length that would be required would not fit or fold up into the doorway. As an alternative, you could install a Minivangater wheelchair lift, but this lift is primarily suited for use by pediatric chair users. Even then, the platform is very small and the lift takes up a considerable amount of space inside the van, and it is not the most practical use of the limited amount of space in a minivan.

    Since AWD and/or 4WD is important in your situation, I might suggest looking into mobility products designed for pickup trucks. Whether or not you could use something like this would depend on many factors not the least of which would be the type of chair you use and your level of ability. We do not currently manufacture anything for pickup trucks (we have in the past), but I’d be happy to recommend other companies if you think this may work for you – just let me know!

    Jack

  11. Phil

    Just a thought, but how about a minivan with a raised roof? I live in Michigan
    and have seen several minivans around here with a raised roof.

    Would it be possible to do the Toyota Sienna AWD conversion if you did not have
    to drop the floor? You could just raise the roof to get the needed head clearance.

    I don’t know if there would be a large enough customer base for this conversion
    to be economically feasible for you, but it would be a great option for people who
    live in a northern/winter climate.

    Phil

  12. Jack Post author

    Hi David,

    I definitely understand your frustration. I discussed this issue with Phil offline in a few follow-up emails, and I think further clarification about the AWD situation may help you and others understand why we can’t convert them.

    On FWD (front wheel drive) vans, there is no drive shaft running from the front-mounted engine to the rear axle – this fact allows us to lower the floor to obtain the necessary headroom inside the van. AWD (all-wheel drive) vans have a drive shaft, so it is simply impossible to lower the floor for wheelchair access. Even if there was some way to re-route the shaft beneath the lowered floor (which there isn’t), there would not be enough clearance between it and the road to make it practical.

    I hope that clarifies why we do not convert AWD vans (nor does any other company to my knowledge). Thanks for your comment, and please let me know if you need more info.

    Jack

  13. David Roecker

    Jack,

    I too have been looking for an accessible minivan with 4WD or AWD and am disturbed that there is nothing available. I thought the Toyota Sienna might be the answer until I found this site. I live outside Fort Collins Colorado where there can be significant snow, and I have a fairly long and steep driveway. Visitors without 4WD are sometimes unable to get to our house. My concern is spending money on an accessible van only to find that I’m stranded 1/2 mile from my house with no way to get there. Please look into developing a solution, as I know Phil and I would appreciate, as would many other prospective customers.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    David Roecker
    (970) 744-9966

  14. Jack Post author

    Hello Phil,

    Unfortunately we cannot convert all-wheel drive Toyota Siennas – the drive shaft prevents us from being able to lower the floor.

    As for your email link question, we have been relying on the blog for this and it seems to be working well. I like the fact that we can publicly answer questions, allowing others who may have the same questions find answers when browsing. But, we’re always open to suggestions. I assume your looking for some type of “Ask BraunAbility” link on the main website? This is something we can certainly look into – let me know what you think. Thanks for your comment!

    Jack

  15. Phil

    Hi:

    I am looking at the Toyota Sienna because it is the only minivan
    around that can be ordered with all-wheel-drive. My question is
    can Braun do the wheelchair conversion on this model?

    Also, I must ask why there is no link on the Braun web site for people
    to email the company with questions?

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