My son (almost 9 years old) will get his first power wheelchair this summer. We will need to buy an appropriate vehicle. We are so overwhelmed with this and would really appreciate if you can give us tips as to what vehicles (brand, model,etc.) are recommendable , where to find them, ways of payment/ even funding,etc. - any info. would help We are a family of 4.  We are in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Isabel


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HI,
We are in Southern California and we just purchased a full size 2009 Ford E250 van last year. We had it converted, including having the floor dropped 6" and a lift put in. There are pictures in my photos you can get to through my page. We personally refinanced our house, but we didn't have much left to pay on our mortgage so it didn't leave us too badly off financially. There are 5 of us plus my father-in-law travels with us sometimes. We went through a local company that sells vans, ramps, lifts etc and they helped with the sale. We looked at the minivans and they were fine, but we just decided we needed more room to carry passengers and stuff than they offered.

The Disabled Dealer Magazineis a good resource and you can search by regions.

Susan Rathfelder
If you - or any PPMD family - is interested in a new Chevrolet or GMC van - or any new GM product (Chevy, GMC, Buick, Cadillac) for that matter - I can get you a discount as an employee. My wife and I are both engineers at GM in Detroit.

In addition to the discount, you also get whatever incentives and rebates are available and you're eligible for, plus the GM Mobility program will reimburse you for up to $1000 for the cost and installation of adaptive equipment. Details at this website.

You can friend me and send me a message if you're interested, in case I don't catch a reply on this thread.
Thank you so much for your offer. What kind of mini-vans or SUVs would be appropriate for a family of 4. We have one son w/DMD. Let me know. Thanks.
Last summer we purchased a Toyota minivan with a lift in the back and a seat lift that places our son down at parking lot level. It took about 4 mos from initial purchase to obtaining keys, because of the lifts being installed. But Toyota finances the entire thing-lifts and all. Go to www.toyota.com for further info, they show pics of the handicapped lifts they finance/install. I was never a fan of minivans but I have to say it works very well taking our sons to school as well as driving vacations. We are a family of 4, two sons, one with DMD.
To transport someone in a powerchair, primarily it'd be either a mini-van or full-size van. The door opening in a regular SUV isn't large enough to get a wheelchair through. There are conversions of Honda Elements and Scion XB's out there, which some people call SUV's, though. I've seen conversions of Chrysler PT Cruisers as well, and they convert it to a gull-wing style door.
Here is the Braun Ability website, you can get a good look at what the minivans look like inside and their features.
I was hopeful the Ford Transit would be suitable. Unfortunately it is ~6 inches too short in my opinion to be comfortable. But I see that some people are already using them for wheelchair transportation.

We currently have a 2002 VW Eurovan and a manual ramp. IMHO this is the best combination of size, 4 foot floor-to-ceiling clearance, drivability and economy, and cost. I am looking forward to Ford's diesel platform to see what they come up with. I wish that Honda had a solution, but unfortunately there is not a large market in the US for a midsize van (like the VW Eurovan - not sold here anymore, GMC Safari - being phased out).

We bought a 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van and added a lift.  This van has high enough doors and ceilings (for head space) that it needed no modification.  We also were a family of 7 and this van gave us enough room.  Now we only have 5 and thinking about getting a mini van with a lift or a ramp.  This is also a diesel van and gets about 25 mpg.

 

jaiduk

Don't forget the MV-1.  http://www.vpgautos.com/     

 

The MV-1 really seems like the best option as far as functionality, though given its weight and power train its likely to be a major fuel hog.  I am also not a fan of American General when it comes to consumer vehicles.  Until GM started making the H-1 Hummers, they were expensive impractical vanity lemons.  The Sprinter seems to be an attractive option, though they are so tall and long that they will not fit in a typical garage.  Now that Alex is about 90% wheelchair bound (he just now wobbled into the kitchen on his feet), we're going to be getting a vehicle this summer that allows him to load without getting out of a power chair.  One other possibility that's out there if you rarely have to get onto a freeway or expressway is a London taxi.  They are passenger vehicle sized, marvelously maneuverable, have an integrated manual ramp and built in tie-down points.  They also weigh close to 6000 pounds but have only a 135hp motor which makes them totally unsuitable for Southern California unless you like getting put into the wall by an 18 wheeler while trying to get onto the freeway.  My gearhead brother in law told me that you could put a supercharger on it and make it marginally functional, but we decided that was too much brain damage.  Looks like we're heading for a minivan conversion, though the four passenger limit is inconvenient.

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