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Thread: From fullsize van to mini-van...Need recommendations

  1. #1

    From fullsize van to mini-van...Need recommendations

    After 43 years of transfers, this old C5-6 quad's shoulders are about shot. I've always driven a fullsize van with a 6-way transfer seat but I really need to move away from that and cut back on those 8-20 transfers in and out each day. More than likely, I'll go with a slightly-used, low-mileage van. A few questions for those more knowledgeable than I.

    - Which mini-vans will give me the most interior turning room for my powerchair?
    - What are the pros/cons of different side-entry manufacturers? VMI, Braun, etc?
    - Are there any van brands I should avoid? I was looking at Dodge/Chrysler.
    - Any recommendations on van motors, or ones to avoid?
    - What else should I look out for?
    "It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein

  2. #2
    mini vans are small for us big quads and not much room compared to a full size. why not just add a ezlock to you full size.
    Bike-on.com rep
    John@bike-on.com
    c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
    sponsored handcycle racer

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by DeadEye View Post
    After 43 years of transfers, this old C5-6 quad's shoulders are about shot. I've always driven a fullsize van with a 6-way transfer seat but I really need to move away from that and cut back on those 8-20 transfers in and out each day. More than likely, I'll go with a slightly-used, low-mileage van. A few questions for those more knowledgeable than I.

    - Which mini-vans will give me the most interior turning room for my power chair? I think the Honda Odyssey gives the most interior room.

    - What are the pros/cons of different side-entry manufacturers? VMI, Braun, etc? I have the Honda Odyssey with the VMI conversion package with side entry and in floor ramp. Fold out ramps have a "tower" that is in the way and takes up interior space. I've had a Dodge Caravan and a Ford Windstar with the fold out ramp and much prefer what I have in the Honda now.

    - Are there any van brands I should avoid? I was looking at Dodge/Chrysler. I can't speak for recent models of the Dodge/Chrysler minivans. I opted for the Odyssey. You just can't beat the reviews.
    All the best,
    GJ

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I just bought a Honda Odyssey 2015 with Braun fold out ramp, after trying out the Dodge/Chrysler and Toyota, and VMI in floor ramps. I use a manual chair so my needs are different. However, I found the Dodge/Chrysler to have the most room: Honda has wheelwells that interfere with the space for maneuvering the wheelchair, the Toyota even less. The VMI in floor ramps have a bump at the top that I couldn't get over with my manual wheelchair but would probably not be a problem for a power chair. I had a 2002 Dodge minivan previously that gave me ample room. The Honda is a better ride.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DeadEye View Post
    After 43 years of transfers, this old C5-6 quad's shoulders are about shot. I've always driven a fullsize van with a 6-way transfer seat but I really need to move away from that and cut back on those 8-20 transfers in and out each day. More than likely, I'll go with a slightly-used, low-mileage van. A few questions for those more knowledgeable than I.

    - Which mini-vans will give me the most interior turning room for my powerchair?
    - What are the pros/cons of different side-entry manufacturers? VMI, Braun, etc?
    - Are there any van brands I should avoid? I was looking at Dodge/Chrysler.
    - Any recommendations on van motors, or ones to avoid?
    - What else should I look out for?
    A 2011 or newer Toyota with a VMI conversion has the most interior turning room.

    All the new vans are good Dodge Toyota or Honda it all comes down to how much your looking to spend and which one fits you the best.

    Another option would be a lowered floor Ford set up for you to drive from your wheelchair.

    VMI, Eldorado and Braun all build good conversions.

    I'd suggest finding a dealer near you that your comfortable with that offers the van you fit into best.

    Try all of them.

    Jim
    Jim, MA, MMET
    Bridgewater, MA

  6. #6
    Senior Member forestranger52's Avatar
    Join Date
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    From a small cabin in the big woods of The Allegheny National Forest, PA
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    Permobil does have the permalock where the pin retracts but with you driving your chair into the woods, I'd be concerned about ground clearance with the ez lock.
    C 5/6 Comp.
    No Tri's or hand function.

    Far better it is to try mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure. Than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.

    Teddy Roosevelt

  7. #7
    Thanks all, I appreciate your help. Good info!

    Quote Originally Posted by fuentejps View Post
    mini vans are small for us big quads and not much room compared to a full size. why not just add a ezlock to you full size.
    I need a drop-floor to drive from the chair and all of the full-size with drop-floor are so damn expensive. They say it adds another $10K to the price. All of the mini-vans have drop-floor and they're everywhere. You are right about the room. If it was just me, the mini-van wouldn't be a problem, but I always have a bunch of crap in my van. Right now, two big hunting blinds, two turkey decoys, and assorted other hunting stuff. I'm heading to a local shop to check out both next week.

    Quote Originally Posted by forestranger52 View Post
    Permobil does have the permalock where the pin retracts but with you driving your chair into the woods, I'd be concerned about ground clearance with the ez lock.
    That has definitely been a concern for me, as well.
    "It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein

  8. #8
    Senior Member forestranger52's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    From a small cabin in the big woods of The Allegheny National Forest, PA
    Posts
    1,643
    I was just in a dodge side loader with raised roof/ d floor and there is no way I could drive in the C500. My head was just barely below the ceiling and I could not see straight out the windows. It was hard to get my head down far enough to get inside. Had to tilt chair and go up backwards.
    C 5/6 Comp.
    No Tri's or hand function.

    Far better it is to try mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure. Than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.

    Teddy Roosevelt

  9. #9
    Unfortunately, it comes down principally on headroom and the chair you plan to use. If you're in a power chair, which has no dump angle and especially with a tilt/recline base which adds a little height to boot, you are going to find headroom is a priority. I have Honda Odyssey which to me offer the most headroom for a minivan with the exception of the maximal deep pan Braun entervan.

    While I can drive satisfactorily in my permobil c300, I have to either duck my head or recline the chair back to enter without hitting my head. If you have any shoulder problems and do not plan on using a power chair I think you can make your problems even worse with a minivan, as the ramp angles are not even close to the one in 12 you would see on a gentle ramp at a building etc. If you have any spasticity the situation is even worse because you could wind up flipping over backwards when you lean forward to counteract the instability.

    If you go to a power assisted chair, such as the quickie extender, as I did for a few years, the ramp is much more doable and the visibility is much improved, though the quickie extender does have problems with achieving a normal dump angle. It can only be done by raising the fork stem through the use of slip on collars and using a drop seat pan and possibly cutting your cushion to fit into this.

    With the extender you cannot change dump angle by utilizing different axle plate positions.

    Additionally, I think the minivans all suck with their positioning of the gearshift lever on the dashboard. If you're quad as I am, this is extremely difficult to do, and could worsen your shoulder problems, even with an aftermarket knob which allows you to push down only and not squeeze the button with your thumb.

    After my shoulder finally fell apart I had to get an electronic pushbutton gear selector which was mounted within easy reach. It made a world of difference and I think any quad a person with shoulder problems should consider it up front are purchasing a van, unless you have tried the gear shifter and that is not a problem for you.

  10. #10
    agree 150% on all mini van ramps. im a strong quad, it would have been a big struggle and no way in rain snow.

    Quote Originally Posted by crags View Post
    Unfortunately, it comes down principally on headroom and the chair you plan to use. If you're in a power chair, which has no dump angle and especially with a tilt/recline base which adds a little height to boot, you are going to find headroom is a priority. I have Honda Odyssey which to me offer the most headroom for a minivan with the exception of the maximal deep pan Braun entervan.

    While I can drive satisfactorily in my permobil c300, I have to either duck my head or recline the chair back to enter without hitting my head. If you have any shoulder problems and do not plan on using a power chair I think you can make your problems even worse with a minivan, as the ramp angles are not even close to the one in 12 you would see on a gentle ramp at a building etc. If you have any spasticity the situation is even worse because you could wind up flipping over backwards when you lean forward to counteract the instability.

    If you go to a power assisted chair, such as the quickie extender, as I did for a few years, the ramp is much more doable and the visibility is much improved, though the quickie extender does have problems with achieving a normal dump angle. It can only be done by raising the fork stem through the use of slip on collars and using a drop seat pan and possibly cutting your cushion to fit into this.

    With the extender you cannot change dump angle by utilizing different axle plate positions.

    Additionally, I think the minivans all suck with their positioning of the gearshift lever on the dashboard. If you're quad as I am, this is extremely difficult to do, and could worsen your shoulder problems, even with an aftermarket knob which allows you to push down only and not squeeze the button with your thumb.

    After my shoulder finally fell apart I had to get an electronic pushbutton gear selector which was mounted within easy reach. It made a world of difference and I think any quad a person with shoulder problems should consider it up front are purchasing a van, unless you have tried the gear shifter and that is not a problem for you.
    Bike-on.com rep
    John@bike-on.com
    c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
    sponsored handcycle racer

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