2023 Top 5 Considerations When Purchasing Wheelchair Van

Posted On: 08/07/2023

Top 5 Considerations When Buying 2023 Wheelchair Van

If you are new to the market in needing a wheelchair accessible vehicle you can feel overwhelmed with the options available.  Which features do I need and what is going to cost more to maintain are common questions.  Below are the top 5 considerations when buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle in 2023 you might find helpful.  

Flooring Type - Rubber or Carpet Flooring?

Depending on where you live you might see the advantages to both.  Being aware of these flooring types allows you to determine what is best for you.  Get what you need, not what the dealer has on the lot or wants to sell you.  The Rubber flooring will cost between $700-$1000 more expensive but due to its durability you have a better looking floor and additional re-sale at the time you trade it in.  Carpets can provide less road noise and it will absorb more sound but can tear and stain from turning a wheelchair frequently in the same location.  Moisture and mud will stay on top of the rubber flooring making it a breeze to clean up, while carpet will absorb these and show it much sooner.  I personally prefer the softness the carpet provides and reduce cabin noise but you need to ask yourself which is most important?

Side Entry or Rear Entry Wheelchair Ramp?

For many reading this will be the biggest question, which is better?  Once you know the difference you generally will have a clear understanding which is best for you.  Riding or driving the vehicle from your wheelchair will quickly make the side entry ramp the preferred choice.https://www.blvd.com/wheelchair-van-conversions/side-entry  If needing the widest ramp possible or the easiest to load in and out?  The rear entry will serve you best.https://www.blvd.com/wheelchair-van-conversions/rear-entry  If needing additional seats is important, the side entry will have capability to haul 5 able body passengers and the rear entry typically can support 4 able body passengers.

Infloor Ramp or Fold Out Ramp?

Selecting the side entry wheelchair ramp is the only option when considering the in floor wheelchair ramp option.  When stowed away, the ramp will be tucked underneath the floor out of sight and not vertically stowed in the doorway like the fold out ramp.  This provides quick access to the rear seats, items stored on the back seat or access to the wheelchair user.  Fold out ramps cost less, are a simple design, require less maintenance and have additional safety measures with side lips on the ramp that are 2 inches high.  Completing routine maintenance on both types is very important to the reliability and experience of your ownership.  Your lifestyle and location in the country can be variables to consider, also how close you are to your dealer.  Living multiple hours away can decrease the likelihood of you getting back for the routine service and would make the fold out the better choice.

Honda, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, Ram or Chevy?

Loyal to a brand?  Many of the most popular brands are now being adapted to both side and rear entry wheelchair van conversions.  Price increases in the recent years have brought the price very similar to each other across the board when comparing equal trim levels.  The Chrysler Pacifica has the edge making a heated steering wheel, heated seats and remote start on mid level trims standard,https://www.blvd.com/wheelchair-vans-for-sale/chrysler while Honda, Toyota & Chevy will require the top of the line to get these popular features.  If you plan on putting 125,000 miles or move your next wheelchair van the Toyota and Honda will cost less to keep on the road and overall cost of ownership  Ride quality across the board is very similar as they all feature the independent rear suspension only the imports used to offer.  Looking for space?  Ford & Ram are the only that offer full size options providing space but carry expensive purchase prices and fuel economy most are not willing to accept.  Visiting your local dealer at Blvd.com will enable you to visit a showroom where you can see in person all the brands and will allow the most important step, test driving, touch and feeling of each brand.

Buying Direct or Buying Through Dealer Network?

VMI & BraunAbility have believed from day one in a dealer network.  This provides factory trained dealers near you that carry the entire line of vehicles and conversions to see and drive before you purchase the vehicle.  They provide many years of experience that first time buyers can benefit from,  Employees, rent, insurance and other expenses will be factored into the vehicle price and generally have a higher asking price. Buying direct generally means buying something from a company that is a few or more states away.  Buying a vehicle before seeing it is difficult, especially if you will be driving the vehicle with hand controls and other accessories.  These conversions are also generally from newer start up companies that are built with less engineering and consideration to how the conversion might affect the performance of the vehicle itself.  Buying from a dealer has a value many 2nd and 3rd time buyers appreciate as you rely highly on the reliability of the conversion.  If your number one focus is on price, consider buying used from a local dealer or see what the factory directs have to offer at the lower price point.

Select The Best Wheelchair Accessible Van For you

Selecting the best ramp type, ramp location, brand of vehicle and who to buy it from is a big and expensive decision.  If your experience with a local dealer has not been enjoyable, please connect with Blvd.com and we can connect you with either a factory direct representative or another local dealer in your area that will help you learn pressure free on the options available.  Buying a vehicle that is not meeting your needs or expectations is avoidable, I encourage you to do your research before you commit to a vehicle.  Simply buying a vehicle that has a lowered floor and ramp without being aware of what has happened behind the sheet metal will end up being a disappointing ownership experience.

Author Information

Katie Cummings
Mobility Blogger

My professional background stems from non-profit marketing and fundraising for a large children’s cancer hospital. Every day I was able to make connections and relationships for kids and their families going through devastating times. From securing small donations to large corporate support, it was all about providing hope that one day doctors and researchers would find a cure. It was truly an honor to be a part of something so important.

Just this past year, I came to work alongside my family for BLVD.com, a website dedicated to offering the latest information and resources for people needing mobility products. This was a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to combine more time with my family while still helping others. Our family has been in the mobility industry for over 35 years with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for people with mobility issues. This is the spirit behind BLVD and what I am most excited about sharing in my blog.

I love meeting new people and have found that volunteering is the best way to learn more about others and myself. Coffee keeps me going as do walks my pup "Kirby" and most of all being with family and friends. I invite you to check out my blog to learn more about how "together we can move through life better!"

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