For persons bound to a wheelchair, mini vans are the logical choice for conversion, as they provide ample room and relatively easy convertibility. In terms of price, available options and features, wheelchair accessible minivans offer the greatest versatility. In addition to the conversion attributes, minivans provide a level of driving safety as well as features that make personal handicapped mobility comfortable and convenient.
Of the minivans produced in the last 5 years, those with the best value and maximum amount of space include Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and Honda Odyssey. The range of prices is primarily a factor of year and mileage. Suffice to say that one of the many available handicapped vans can be yours for as little as $21,000. Not only that, but many conversion businesses offer a limited warranty with a newly-converted used minivan.
As far as price is concerned, a general rule when looking for the right wheelchair accessible minivan is that the older the vehicle and the greater the mileage, the less it will cost even with a new conversion system. A 2010 Chrysler Town & Country, for example, with between 17,000 and 19,000 miles costs anywhere from $32,000 to $40,000 depending on the model and the conversion. ’09 models including the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan run about $27,000 to $34,000. A 2006 model Honda Odyssey with over 60,000 miles costs about $27,000. Clearly, price will affect your decision when comparing models. Foreign models such as Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and the Volkswagen Routan tend to hold their value longer than domestic minivans, but price is almost always proportionate to vehicle age and wear.
Depending on your needs, options differ. Dodge, Chrysler and Honda minivans offer similar alternatives with regard to conversion. These include side-entry ramps to long channel rear-entry ramps. An alternative to a ramp is a lift, whether mono-arm, double-arm or underbody. Mono-arm lifts work best on passenger minivans as the hydraulic system requires less space. Wheelchair accessible minivans come with either a lowered floor or a raised roof. Both the Grand Caravan and Odyssey minivans can be modified to include a 56-inch tall rear opening and a 32-inch wide, manual-folding ramp. Side-ramp entry with a removed front driver’s seat provides a clear path to the steering wheel for people who can drive themselves. Other options include remote ramp controls, safety override switch, matching auto body effects to complete the conversion, and removable front passenger seat.
Converted Town & Country, Grand Caravan and Odyssey models feature multiple tie-down points, security straps and brackets, and anti-skid flooring. As for the minivan itself, like non-converted vehicles they usually feature anti-lock brakes, multiple airbags, automatic transmission and traction control. Convenience features such as power windows, cruise control and power steering are common inclusions. All 3 minivan models feature custom exhaust systems, custom fuel tank placement, undercoating and rustproofing, and custom, durable multi-leaf rear springs to accommodate the added weight.
Price, options and features all play into your decision of which wheelchair accessible minivan to purchase. Practically any minivan is convertible, but the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and Honda Odyssey are fully customizable to your needs, while providing a stylish and affordable means of personal mobility.