Title: Which Type of Wheelchair Van Is Best for You?
Navigating the large selection of available wheelchair accessible vans can be overwhelming. With so many choices and things to consider, where do you even start? Fear not! This guide is designed to walk you through the various types of wheelchair vans for sale and help you find the one that will fit your needs the best.
Overview of Wheelchair Van Types
When it comes to wheelchair vans, not all are created equal. Each offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages which impact factors like:
– Cost (Affordable vs. Premium)
– Parking convenience
– Interior space for the wheelchair user
– Who can drive the vehicle (wheelchair user or caregiver)
– Seating arrangements (flexible seating options vs. fixed)
– Additional features and benefits (there’s more to vans than just being accessible)
Broadly, you can categorize wheelchair vans into the following general categories:
– Side-entry conversions (ramp comes out of the side)
– Rear-entry conversions (ramp comes out of the back)
– Independent driving conversions (enables driving from wheelchair)
– Caregiver conversions (tailored to wheelchair users with caregivers)
Let’s dig into these different factors so you can understand which could fit your needs the best:
Side Entry Ramp Conversions
Opting for a side-entry conversion paves the way for a top-notch wheelchair-friendly experience. With generous interior maneuverable space, wheelchair users can interact seamlessly with fellow passengers, ditching the isolation of having to sit in the far back of the vehicle.
One downside to side-entry vans is that they require accessible parking spots for unobstructed ramp deployment. Yet, with VMI Northstar’s pioneering ParkSmart® feature, the struggle is minimized by alerting others when they park too closely to your van while you’re away, essentially acting as your personal parking guardian.
Side-entry wheelchair vans also have the advantage of additional headspace due to having a new, lowered floor. The original floor is completely removed, making way for an accessible floor and accommodating power train. The added headroom and removable front seats allow wheelchair users the autonomy to drive directly from their wheelchair.
Given how invasive this conversion process is, it is vital that you purchase from a reliable, distinguished conversion company like Vantage Mobility. Our vans meet or exceed safety compliance standards, are NHTSA crash-test approved, and meet the stringent quality standards you’d expect from an unconverted van. They may be pricier, given the intricate conversion process, but the premium experience they provide justifies the investment.
Rear Entry Ramp Conversions
Looking for a budget-friendly yet functional wheelchair van? Rear entry conversions might be your answer. These are less costly to manufacture, thanks to a less invasive conversion process. They feature a channeled pathway from the back leading into the cabin. As a bonus, you get the freedom to park almost anywhere, with no side obstruction worries.
The price tag alone makes them an attractive option for buyers, so it’s important to understand the trade-offs that enable that lower price. Rear-entry vans cater specifically to wheelchair users who have caregivers. This is because the ramp requires manual operation and the wheelchair position doesn’t extend to the front seats, limiting independent driving capability. They also often require the wheelchair user to sit behind all the other passengers instead of in the middle amongst everybody.
Wheelchair Vans intended For Caregivers
Wheelchair users with dedicated caregivers enjoy broader van options because the ramp system doesn’t need to be automatic, as the caregiver handles the deployment. It’s also unnecessary for the front seat to be removable since the caregiver will be doing the driving anyway. Because of this, wheelchair users with caregivers can get anything from the top-of-the-line power, in-floor ramp to a manual rear-entry ramp.
This is where the Vantage Mobility “Northstar E” conversion shines – providing the luxuries of an in-floor ramp but at the cost of a manual one. The in-floor ramp allows able-bodied passengers (like other family members or friends) an unobstructed entry and exit without ramp needing to be deployed. The ramp is connected to a handle that is easy for people of any age to use and is what makes having an in-floor ramp possible.
Wheelchair Vans Designed for Wheelchair Users who Drive
Independence on the road is invaluable. Fortunately, several wheelchair vans cater to owners wanting complete autonomy, from entry and exit to driving. Essential to this is a power conversion for automatic ramp deployment without caregiver aid. The removable front driver’s seat is another necessity. Currently, only side-entry wheelchair vans offer this independence, as rear-entry conversion channels stop at the front seats or sooner. The Vantage Mobility Northstar® conversion comes standard with “interchangeable seats,” a Vantage Mobility exclusive, which enables you to easily switch one original seat between the two sides. This allows a wheelchair user who drives to switch with their partner part way through their trip. With other brands, you have to fully commit to one driver the whole trip or take both seats with you.
For a blend of luxury and convenience, in-floor ramps are your best bet. Integrated seamlessly into the floor, they exude a polished look while optimizing van space. They also keep interiors cleaner, reducing debris influx that can fall in from a folding ramp. Their one-piece, sturdy construction ensures ease of use, and less flex which provides a gentler ramp slope. The Vantage mobility Northstar, a trailblazer in in-floor conversions, encapsulates these benefits and more, ensuring the ultimate accessible experience.
If value for money is your priority, fold-out ramps hit a sweet spot. While more affordable than in-floor options, they still offer automatic ramp deployment and ample side-entry interior space. The primary trade-offs? A less premium look and the ramp obstructing the doorway when stowed, which consumes some interior space. Fold-out conversions from Vantage Mobility still provide interchangeable and removable front seats, which means that caregivers and independent drivers alike can enjoy the value of this ramp option.
In summary, the quest for the perfect wheelchair van boils down to your individual needs and preferences. Whether you lean towards the premium side-entry conversions or the affordability-driven rear entry, we hope these descriptions help you to make an informed choice. And always remember, because this is a vehicle you and your loved ones will be using daily, it’s crucial that you choose a brand you can trust—that goes the extra mile to meet compliance standards and do crash testing. The unmatched features as seen in the Vantage Mobility conversions can significantly enhance the driving and traveling experience for wheelchair users and caregivers alike.