If you rely on a wheelchair for mobility, this fact will play a significant role in your vehicle-purchase decision. Fortunately, shopping with this consideration in mind doesn’t have to be limiting, since there are many vehicles on the market offering the roominess and versatility wheelchair users require.
You don’t have to pay a bundle to get a wheelchair-friendly car, and if you’re looking for the most affordable solutions, a used vehicle is your best bet. New cars depreciate by as much as 19 percent after just one year of ownership. This translates into big savings for used-car shoppers, even if the previously owned model you’re considering is just a year or two old. Shopping on the used market also allows you to enjoy the benefits of wheelchair-friendly models that may have been recently discontinued.
Below are four great wheelchair-friendly used-car picks.
2007-2011 Honda Element
The Honda Element is a useful companion in all circumstances. This compact SUV offers clamshell doors providing wide and accessible door openings that easily facilitate the loading and unloading of wheelchairs. The Element is spacious on the inside, yet its footprint is small enough to make it an accommodating ally on congested city streets. Power is smoothly unspooled from the four-cylinder engine, and handling is comfortable and capable.
All-wheel drive is available, making this Honda an excellent choice for drivers who frequently tangle with rough weather. If your wheelchair tracks snow or mud into the Element’s interior, cleaning isn’t a hassle, since the SUV comes with a urethane floor than can be easily hosed down to get rid of grime. The Element’s rear seats are removable, and once they’re out of the picture, you’ll have 75 cubic feet available for wheelchair storage and more.
The Element was discontinued in 2011. In 2007, it benefited from upgrades such as boosted horsepower and an improved five-speed transmission, so we’d recommend considering choices that are model-year 2007 and newer.
2012-2013 Chevrolet Impala
A bench seat’s inherent roominess makes it easier for wheelchair users to slide into and out of a car. Vehicles with front bench seats were popular in decades past, but they’ve since fallen out of favor. The Chevrolet Impala was the last North American passenger car to offer front bench seats. This feature is not available on current Impalas, but it’s offered on model-year 2013 and older vehicles.
The Impala is an incredible workhorse, offering many of the features wheelchair users value most. In addition to its useful bench seats, this Chevy provides a huge trunk with 18.6 cubic feet available for wheelchair storage. You won’t have to worry about being jarred or jolted, since the sedan’s suspension is tuned to provide plush comfort.
We’d recommend purchasing a 2012 or 2013 model, since the Impala received an engine upgrade in 2012 that endowed it with heightened acceleration capabilities.
2015-2016 Toyota Sienna
With their cavernous cabins and user-friendly sliding doors, minivans are more wheelchair-friendly than all other vehicle types on the market. Within the minivan segment, the Toyota Sienna is an undisputed leader. It provides secure handling, intuitively designed controls and an interior that’s both premium-looking and spacious.
The Sienna is offered with an Auto Access lift seat that is helpful for those in wheelchairs. The seat makes it easier to enter and exit the van, rotating outward and lowering itself close to the ground for boarding. You’ll never feel cramped in the Sienna, since the minivan provides a whopping 150 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the second-row seats removed. All-wheel drive is available, allowing this Toyota to confidently take on snowy roads.
For model-year 2015, the Sienna received upgrades that left it with a more premium-looking interior, so we’d recommending shopping for 2015 and newer models.
2008-2015 Scion xB
The defiantly boxy xB was one of the first models introduced by Scion when the brand was launched over a decade ago, and it embodied the marque’s youthful spirit. The xB was retired after model-year 2015 and the Scion brand shuttered soon after, but this boxy little hauler remains a great choice for wheelchair users.
A popular pick for wheelchair conversions, the xB boasts an interior roomy enough to easily accommodate wheelchair use. With the rear seats folded, this spunky Scion gives up 70 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Ride quality is pleasant, and its 2.4-liter engine serves up reasonably strong acceleration.
The xB’s final generation was launched for 2008. It brought with it a more spacious interior and a more powerful engine, so we’d recommended seeking out model-year 2008 and newer xBs.
Offering ample spaciousness and flexibility, any of the choices listed above will meet the needs of wheelchair users.
Still, these picks offer more than just wheelchair compatibility. Each model has its own unique strengths and is equipped serve as an amiable partner in your travels.