I am in the process of looking at mobility vans.  Does anyone know,
which is better to purchase a side entry van or rear entry one?  Is there a better make than others, as far as reliability?  

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Side or rear entry seems to be determined by where you park most. If you frequently have to parallel park, side entry is definitely a better option. We have a side entry van, and from time to time in crowded parking lots, or ones with few van spots, a rear entry would be nice as it could be parked in a "regular" spot. This still has it's drawbacks though, because then Brandon would be exiting into traffic. Neither will be perfect in all situations. As far as make, I would stick with whatever manufacturer you have preferred in the past, but I don't have any experience with conversion companies. I am currently modifying a full sized GMC that we owned already.

Thank you for the information.  You mentioned a few things that I haven't thought of in making my decision.

Jim & Melissa Smith said:

Side or rear entry seems to be determined by where you park most. If you frequently have to parallel park, side entry is definitely a better option. We have a side entry van, and from time to time in crowded parking lots, or ones with few van spots, a rear entry would be nice as it could be parked in a "regular" spot. This still has it's drawbacks though, because then Brandon would be exiting into traffic. Neither will be perfect in all situations. As far as make, I would stick with whatever manufacturer you have preferred in the past, but I don't have any experience with conversion companies. I am currently modifying a full sized GMC that we owned already.

I hope it helped :-)

We started out using the side, and then went to rear entry (no worries about getting blocked in). There are trade-offs either way.

Rear entry puts your son behind everyone. If you want to start your van up to warm it up or cool it off before getting in, having the back hatch open lets exhaust in more than the side. 

Side entry, your son gets in first, others afterwards to allow him to wheel around and get locked in. Rear entry, everyone can get in at the same time while you focus on locking in your son in the back.

I've noticed that some of the new rear entry mods allow the chair to come nearly in line with the rear seats. That's better, but the rear seats are narrower than what the van came with from the factory.

We currently use a VW Eurovan with a folding ramp. Once you modify a minivan to accomodate a wheelchair, there's little room left IMHO. I am looking forward to the new Ford Transit (full size) vans coming out this next year (2013). 

Thanks also for the info Conrad.  I have a ford flex, which is too low to convert and I love my ford vehicles and have been hoping ford would come out with some thing.  This has helped me make my decisoin for a van which we could not decide buy a minivan or get a lift, well, I will now just have the lift put on the back for this year and next year get the transit.  Thanks so much!!!!

 

 

So many things to consider! We are just buying our third converted van. Our first was a full-sized Ford with a Braun lift. Our second was a Dodge Caravan with VMI conversion. Our newest is another Caravan with Amerivan conversion. All side-entry. My son sits in the front passenger area--whenever he has riden in the back or in a rear-entry he feels isolated and carsick. We considered the new ready-from-factory MV1, which my son was able to try out, and ruled it out as we need to carry 2 wheelchairs and only one powered chair will fit in the MV1, it only gets the mileage of a full-sized van, and it does not come with a front passenger seat. It is a great van--just not right for us. Do your research, talk to others who have vans as you are doing here, and consider how many will ride in the van. You can have your new van shipped right from the manufacturer to the conversion site. Our Caravan will be going directly to Kansas City, so who knows when we will see it. My son with DMD did all the research and negotiated the price all by himself. This included walking out on a bait-and-switch dealer and learning tricks they may use on you to make you buy. Be wary--this is a huge purchase.

Thank you, this information was very helpful!

Ann Avery said:

So many things to consider! We are just buying our third converted van. Our first was a full-sized Ford with a Braun lift. Our second was a Dodge Caravan with VMI conversion. Our newest is another Caravan with Amerivan conversion. All side-entry. My son sits in the front passenger area--whenever he has riden in the back or in a rear-entry he feels isolated and carsick. We considered the new ready-from-factory MV1, which my son was able to try out, and ruled it out as we need to carry 2 wheelchairs and only one powered chair will fit in the MV1, it only gets the mileage of a full-sized van, and it does not come with a front passenger seat. It is a great van--just not right for us. Do your research, talk to others who have vans as you are doing here, and consider how many will ride in the van. You can have your new van shipped right from the manufacturer to the conversion site. Our Caravan will be going directly to Kansas City, so who knows when we will see it. My son with DMD did all the research and negotiated the price all by himself. This included walking out on a bait-and-switch dealer and learning tricks they may use on you to make you buy. Be wary--this is a huge purchase.

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