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Replacement car

Hi guys, my wife and I have 2 VW Jetta TDI (diesel) cars that each have about 180k miles. We’re very satisfied. BUT, and you knew that was coming, my mothter-in-law has had a stroke, and we are considering caring for her at home now that her rehabilitation stint is done.

Mama can walk short distances, is 4’10", and is weak on her left side.

So, if we do care for her at our home, we need a car that can fit a collapsed wheelchair, and is “friendly” for someone who is handicapped. We are kind of thinking a used Toyota LandCruiser Diesel. And small SUV (hybrid ok) in general. We are looking for suggestions. Could you please help?


Can she get into a Land Cruiser? I doubt it. A small SUV might work. We have friends with arthritic knees and back problems that find the Honda CR-V is satisfactory because they can slide in and out. You can put the wheelchair in the back. It’s not clear that this will work; our friends are taller. It might turn out that a sedan would work best. If you like diesels, check out the Jetta TDI wagon.

How about a Mazda 5? Good amount of room, low entry, decent fuel economy, fairly low cost. Where are you that you could even find a diesel Landcruiser? That would be a big climb for her, I’d think.

A hatchback is your best choice. We looked at a Honda Fit recently , and it has an amazing amount of inside space. With the back seal down you won’t even have to collapse the wheelchair. It has a good roofline for a 4-10 person as well and is easy to get in and out of.

The backseat folds completely flat, unlike may other small cars.

Others to consider are the Hyundai Elantra Touring, Toyota Matrix, Mazda 3 Sport

The easiest vehicles for the elderly and infirm to get into and out of are the small SUVs (Rav-4, CR-V, Forester) and the minivans.

Once you have narrowed down your search, you will need to take your MIL to the dealership in order to see how she fares with a particular model. Even better–tell the salesman that you need to take an extended test drive, and drive the vehicle to your home. MIL can test the entry and exit in the comfort of your own driveway.

I’ll second both the mini-van suggestion and taking your mother with you testing out vehicles. I would also go as far as recommending buying a small ramp should you get a mini-van.
With a little assist from one of you, this should make it even easier for her to get in and out of, and can generally be stored in the back should you get a portable one, or the van can be modified so that it automatically comes out when the door is open. Talk to local churches or “retirement homes” for info regarding where they get their vehicles done at. You may even luck out and they’ll have one for sale.

Minivans are quite low for loading and have easy step in and easy wheelchair access. Many compact suvs have good step in height for passengers.

I would recommend a tall wagon such as the Scion XB, Mazda 5, or Kia Rondo.

If they fold down the back seat, where are they going to put her?

Any large American made 4 dr. sedan, Crown Vic. Mercury Marquis, Buick LeSabre etc. would be comfortable for her, cheap to buy and have a trunk more than large enough. A Chrysler Pacifica would also work. I think the Landcruiser would be too high for her to get in and the ride would be much too uncomfortable for her frail bones.

LOL … she goes in the front seat - easier to get in and out with fewest leg movements.

Nice suggestion with the extended test drive. Thanks!

THe backseat folds flat in sections as well you can collapse the one half and still sit ion the other.

If you’re in the U.S. you won’t be finding a diesel Land Crusiser as they were never introduced here. I would look at the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis or the 2005-2007 Ford Five Hundred. Both of those have large interiors and are easy to get in and out of.