You’re probably thinking that you’ll need a futuristic vehicle as a wheelchair user before you can comfortably get in your wheelchair. I’ve been in a wheelchair and I can boldly tell you that there are cars out there that were created with love for wheelchair users.
Lucky for us, there are a lot of wheelchairs accessible vehicles that are not different from the standard vehicles patrolling the streets.
Yes, most car manufacturers create a WAV for each vehicle in their inventory, so you don’t have to make any modifications.
Although most wheelchair accessible vehicle is a bit more expensive than regular cars, they are still the best option since it was made specifically for wheelchair users and you don’t have to pay for any modification.
In this article, we will be giving you an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about WAV. We will also look at the best cars for wheelchair users, and the cost of a wheelchair adapted vehicle.
- 1 What is WAV?
- 2 Best Wheelchair Assessable Vehicle Of 2021
- 3 What To Look For When Buying A WAV
- 4 Cost Of Wheelchair Cars
What is WAV?
Before I show you all the best cars for wheelchair users, I’d like to go over the concept behind wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are modified vans or cars that allow you to drive or travel while seated in your wheelchair. Simply put, any car created to foster easy mobility of a wheelchair user is a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs).
These vehicles can transport both the wheelchair and the user. There are a lot of Wheelchair Adapted vehicles out there from compact cars to large MPVs. These cars allow easy mobility of wheelchair users, cripples, and other disabled people.
Making the car accessible for wheelchair users may require an access ramp, wheelchair restraints, special wheelchair occupant seat belts, lowered floor, raised roof, wider entrance, or controls adapted for driving while in a wheelchair.
A person who isn’t physically impaired or needs a wheelchair or scooter to move around can also use a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
You can drive a wheelchair even if you are not physically impaired. WAV just means that a wheelchair user can use the vehicle.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles are just excellent ways to ensure autonomy while using a wheelchair.
This thing is that WAVs are a bit more expensive than other conventional vehicles.
This slight price increase is mostly because of the original vehicles’ modifications to allow wheelchair users to access them without leaving their chair while moving.
Best Wheelchair Assessable Vehicle Of 2021
When looking for a vehicle to transport a wheelchair passenger, it’s important to find one that fosters optimum comfort.
Most Wheelchairs adapted vehicles can accommodate the wheelchair passenger in the rear, by the side, and even have the wheelchair passenger option in the front, next to the driver.
These types of cars are perfect for couples or families where either parent is in a wheelchair.
There are however cars for disabled people that can accommodate a wheelchair driver. These types of vehicles are perfect for people that want to enjoy more autonomy. You can easily get in and out of your car without external influence.
We’ve compiled the best cars with the latest technology for wheelchair users.
Most of the vehicles listed below can accommodate a person in a wheelchair without requiring him to leaving the wheelchair to use the regular passenger seats.
These are the best wheelchair accessible cars of 2021.
1. BraunAbility Entervan WAV
The BraunAbility Entervan is officially the best van for wheelchair users. This car truly defines ease of use and accessibility. You don’t need someone to push you into the car or help you get out.
Even if you are a power chair user, the car is already optimized for you to drive while seated in your wheelchair. Best of all, the BraunAbility Entervan uses a Quiet Drive™ noise reduction technology that is exclusively found on all BraunAbility wheelchair vans.
This wheelchair van has a sliding door that opens instantly at the push of a button and deploys a lightweight aluminum wheelchair ramp automatically to ensure easy access for wheelchairs and scooters.
How cool is that?
This feature can also be activated with the standard keychain remote or via the interior control on the dashboard.
Unlike most conventional wheelchair vans, the floor of the Dodge Entervan By BraunAbility is a 14″ lower. This means you can enter and exit the vehicle without asking anyone to give you a push or help pull you out of the car.
All the seats in the cars can be removed and reinstalled when needed. This is a perfect solution for plus-sized people that use bigger wheelchairs.
2. Peugeot Rifter Horizon™ WAV
The second best wheelchair adapted vehicle on my list is the Peugeot Rifter Horizon™. The Peugeot Rifter is one of the most popular wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK.
The French company knows how to make mobility cars that come with premium comfort, design style, and an extensive list of impressive specs that can easily outmatch other conventional SUVs.
There’s no need to debate about the design and appearance of this beauty, the only thing you know is that the Rifter is the perfect car for wheelchair users that want extra comfort.
One of the best features of this car is its innovative and unique EasyGlide™ wheelchair ramp. The Peugeot Rifter Horizon™ uses an ultra-strong, low-gradient ramp that is on the trunk floor.
The ramp is almost invisible once the trunk is closed; the ramp is almost invisible. Once you’re inside, the wheelchair is secured by state-of-the-art, high-quality front, and rear wheelchair restraints.
There is also a lap and diagonal seat belts to secure the wheelchair user during transits and quick stops.
It’s safe to say that the Peugeot Rifter is the most secure car for wheelchair users. This car boasts of the perfect combination of accessibility and comfort.
3. Citroën Berlingo WAV
Just like the Renault Kangoo, the Citroen Berlingo is another low-budget wheelchair adapted vehicle for a wheelchair user in the USA, the UK, and Canada.
These vehicles were made to carry a person in a wheelchair and three other passengers. There are two distinct models of this vehicle; M with five seats and XL model with seven seats.
Don’t worry, all seats are removable to accommodate a wheelchair with the person still on it. There’s also ample space for both the wheelchair user and other passengers.
When considering Multi-Purpose Vehicles for wheelchair users, the Berlingo is one that is often regarded as a benchmark. It’s got all the spaces you’ll find on a van and maintains enough functionality to compete with top SUVs.
Being an MPV with WAV support, it’s built to accommodate all practical eventualities, giving it the ability to transport as many persons and things as possible — just like your regular van.
Unlike the Peugeot Rifter, the design of the Wheelchair Accessible Citroen Berlingo doesn’t have enough style — it still looks like a regular van.
Although for compensation, the current version integrates a lot of vintage safety and luxury features. And quite frankly, this beauty stands as one of the most elegant cars for wheelchair users.
4. Honda Odyssey WAV
The Honda Odyssey is the best mobility wheelchair vehicle on this list. The Honda Odyssey is justified in the name, you will enjoy a safe and comfortable journey in this car whether you use a wheelchair or not.
The best feature of this car is the Access360® feature. Access360® was created to enable ease of movement within your Honda Odyssey. The Honda Odyssey provides ample space for large families and exceptional wheelchair maneuverability for wheelchair users.
This Honda Odyssey can easily carry three people in a wheelchair with enough space for two extra passengers. It can accommodate a wide range of wheelchairs and scooters.
The Honda Odyssey also has Interchangeable front seats that foster independence for the wheelchair user. You can easily switch between driver or passenger without getting up to switch seats.
This badass feature eliminates the need to take an extra front seat when you are heading out.
Then there’s the ramp. The VMI Honda Odyssey uses a Northstar® ramp, #1 powered in-floor ramp. The Honda Odyssey wheelchair van also comes with a lot of stylish features that would allow easy access for all wheelchair users.
5. Wheelchair Adapted Ford Explorer
The wheelchair-adapted Ford Explorer comes with removable driver and passenger seats, tons of safety features for wheelchair users and their passengers including an automated in-floor ramp.
This magnificent car can be controlled by a wheelchair driver using state-of-the-art hand controls. Since it is the only SUV on the list, it’s clear it has got something more than ordinary to make it tic.
There’s a lot to admire about this Wheelchair adapted SUV, The Ford Explorer MXV boasts of an in-floor ramp with Tilt N’Go seats for both drivers and all five passengers.
Ford Explorer wheelchair SUV’s has one of the best wheelchairs adapted side-entry ramp. It also has a sliding shifter to maximize interior space for wider wheelchairs, hand controls for wheelchair users in case of emergency, lowered floor, remote control, and Tilt N’Go.
The vehicles that were listed above are standard vehicles that have been transformed for wheelchair users.
We’ve tested most of these cars and we’re 100% sure that they are perfect for people that rely on wheelchairs or scooters for mobility.
What To Look For When Buying A WAV
Choosing a Wheelchair Adapted Vehicle (WAV) is a big decision. We revealed some of the most powerful vehicles for wheelchair users.
Before you process to purchase your wheelchair van, here are some of the most important things you should look for if you truly want to enjoy the car and get the value of your money.
1. Safety Features
One of the most important things to look for when purchasing a wheelchair car or wheelchair adapted vehicles is the security features available for wheelchair users.
The cars must have all kinds of security features like wheelchair restraints, seat belts, and airbags for wheelchair drivers and passengers. Your preferred wheelchair van must be safe for both wheelchair and non-wheelchair users.
2. Slope Of the Ramp
One thing you should consider before buying a WAV is the steepness of the ramp. Most wheelchairs adapted vehicles have lowered floors that provide more headroom while getting into the car and allow the ramp to be steep-proof.
Some terrible WAVs have raised floors and low-quality ramps that make it difficult to get it and a nightmare to get out.
Make sure that your preferred WAV has a ramp that is inclined at the perfect angle as recommended by the ADA. If the floor of the car is not lowered, you can install a wheelchair lift on the car instead of a ramp.
3. Ample Space
One of the most important features of a perfect wheelchair vehicle is ample space. Your preferred must have ample space, whether it is a big SUV or a compact sedan.
Sufficient space is an important factor of any car, especially if it is a wheelchair vehicle.
Your WAV should be able to transport you and your family without squeezing you all like a can of sardine.
There should be enough room for you, your wheelchair, your passengers, the luggage, and other accessories.
4. Lowered floor or higher roof
Your wheelchair adapted van must have a lowered floor or higher roofing. You should not buy a car where you have to slouch throughout the journey; such vehicles go against the principles of WAV.
When your car is converted into a wheelchair adapted vehicle, it becomes perfect for people in a wheelchair.
Lowered floors and higher roofs give you ample space to stretch and move around even while you are in your wheelchair.
I would advise you to go for higher roofs over lower floors. Lower floors are great if you are using a ramp to get in and out of the car, but if you are driving on bumpy roads, the journey can be very uncomfortable.
Lowered floors also mean smaller fuel tanks. Smaller fuel tanks mean frequent visits to every gas station you drive by. So if you had to choose between lowered floors and higher roofs, go for a WAV with higher ceilings.
5. Easy To Get In And Out Of The Cars
One of the most important things you should look out for when buying a wheelchair vehicle is how easy it is to get in and out of the car. This factor is very important, especially if you plan to use the vehicle frequently.
Whether you select side-entry or rear-entry WAV make sure that it is easy for you to get in or out of the car whether you are getting out in a parking spot or your small garage.
Cost Of Wheelchair Cars
Like I said earlier, wheelchair adapted vehicles are a bit more expensive than most standard cars. A brand new wheelchair van would cost you nothing less than $35,000 depending on the manufacturer and model.
If you already have a car, you can convert it to a wheelchair vehicle with anything between $10,000 and $20,000. The cost of converting your car depends on the mechanics handing the conversion and the extra features he would add to the car.