Wheelchair Vans – Which is Right for Me?
Just starting to research wheelchair vans? Don’t be overwhelmed! We’ve put together a comparison guide so you can better understand your mobility options. When you visit your local BraunAbility® dealer, you can explore the different features in person. Until then, look through our easy-to-use comparison and view testimonials from customers who know first-hand the impact the right wheelchair van can have on your life!
Compare Your Options
Side-Entry Wheelchair Vans
A side-entry van gives extra room for maneuverability because either the entire floor of the vehicle is lowered, or just a portion, depending on the type of vehicle.
A wheelchair user can typically drive or ride in the first row position (does not apply in the CompanionVan). Wheelchair users can also ride securely in the second row position.
If you live in an area with plenty of handicap or parallel parking, the side-entry is a good fit because it requires extra space for the ramp to deploy.
Side-entry wheelchair accessible vehicles maintain the rear cargo storage space behind the third row seating.
Rear-Entry Wheelchair Vans
In a rear-entry vehicle, the wheelchair user rides in a channel installed in the middle of the floor, from the second row to the rear of the vehicle.
A rear-entry wheelchair accessible vehicle offers plenty of ground clearance because most of the van’s floor has not been modified, and the rear of the vehicle is slightly elevated.
If you live in an area that lacks handicap parking spaces or if your garage is too narrow for a side-entry van, you might need a rear entry van.
A rear-entry wheelchair accessible vehicle is typically less expensive to convert.
Standard Height Vans
A standard height wheelchair van typically offers between 52” and 55” of headroom at the ramp entrance doorway.
For smaller to average-sized wheelchair users who do not sit very high in their chairs, this option should work well.
Extra Tall (XT) Height Vans
An extra tall (XT) offers over 55” of doorway height at the van’s entrance.
Because some individuals sit a little higher in their wheelchairs, the XT vehicles may offer better visibility and a more comfortable ride for those users.
A foldout ramp allows you to drive next to a curb and deploy the ramp over the curb for easy entry and exit.
In case of an emergency, a wheelchair user can always push a foldout ramp out until it deploys fully.
Because the ramp is stored upright, less debris is trapped and results in fewer ramp maintenance issues.
Keep in mind, in order to enter or exit on the ramp side of the vehicle, the ramp must be deployed.
With no ramp in the doorway, passengers who are not in wheelchairs can enter and exit the vehicle without having to deploy the ramp.
Out of sight, out of mind! An infloor ramp is completely concealed, so the interior looks closer than ever to that of a standard minivan.
Keep in mind, deploying an infloor ramp onto a high curb could be a problem.
Also, an infloor ramp may require more maintenance because the ramp tends to collect more debris.
A manual ramp is offered on some BraunAbility wheelchair vans and is ideal for a wheelchair user who will always travel with a companion who can access and raise/lower the ramp easily.
Without any automated components, the manual ramp is a cost-effective mobility option.
Manual ramps are available on both side-entry and rear-entry vehicles.
A power ramp provides exceptional convenience as the door and ramp are each operated with a key fob remote control. Simply press a button and the door opens, the ramp deploys, and the van kneels.
Caretakers avoid repetitive, and sometimes painful, transfers with a power ramp vehicle.
Power ramps are more expensive than a manual ramp.
Things to Consider
Top Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the best mobility option for your personal needs. Consider the following points as you begin your search!
Different challenges, different mobility solutions
Your perfect mobility fit depends on a number of factors, especially the seriousness of your mobility challenges. If you have very limited mobility, a vehicle that allows you to travel in your wheelchair will be necessary. If you have more strength, you may be able to use a transfer seat or wheelchair stowage lift instead.
Convenience reigns supreme
One of the biggest perks of a wheelchair accessible vehicle is the convenience. There will be no more time spent transferring into a vehicle or breaking down and packing a wheelchair. With an accessible van, you can operate the ramp with a remote control and wheel right into position, saving time and headaches for all.
Shop for your current AND your future mobility needs
Many wheelchair users live with conditions like multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy that may result in diminishing strength and mobility as years go by. For those individuals, it’s critical to consider not only what your mobility needs are today, but 5, 10 or 15 years down the road as well. Maybe an accessible van doesn’t seem necessary today, but purchasing a vehicle that will continue to work for you no matter the progression of your condition could make all the difference in the level of your comfort.
Remember to consider weather conditions
If you are especially sensitive to severe heat or cold, a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be a huge advantage to help you save minutes in the rain, snow or heat as you transfer into a vehicle or load/unload a wheelchair.
Make sure you have the help of a mobility specialist
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of working with a Certified Mobility Consultant when shopping for mobility equipment. The guidance they provide is essential to make sure you’re introduced to the variety of products out there, and ultimately guided to the one that will make the biggest difference in your life. Doing your homework up front is important, but nothing beats experiencing the vehicle or product for yourself. It is critical to know that you and everyone else in the vehicle will be comfortable and satisfied.
Hear From Our Customers
Meet Our Customers
BraunAbility has affected hundreds of thousands of lives over the past 40 years, and we’re proud to be a part of what keeps our customers moving day after day. Each one of them has a story, and each one is unique, see for yourself!
BraunAbility Restores Customer’s Independence
After a spinal cord injury in college, a BraunAbility accessible vehicle restored Adam Sargent’s independence.
Marine Turned Certified Mobility Consultant
A decorated Marine reinvents his life after a car accident. Today he’s a BraunAbility customer and a Certified Mobility Consultant for a BraunAbility dealer.
Because We Know Life is a Moving Experience
Julie Meyers never slows down, and her BraunAbility van allows this teacher and power soccer athlete to keep up with her busy life.
BraunAbility Vehicles: The Easiest Decision You'll Make
One couple thought their freedom to get up and go was over following a car accident. And then they discovered BraunAbility accessible vehicles.
“I Don’t Know What We’d Do Without Our Van.”
Freedom returns for a young family after they’re introduced to BraunAbility accessible vehicles.