Vehicle Choice for Disabled

My wife is disabled but is able to transfer from manual wheelchair into and out of our current car (2005 Toyota Camry XLE) which has a passenger side power seat. We have a power chair but can’t take it with us…the Camry is too light to attach a carrier for the power chair.

We’re looking for a SUV/Crossover that has a power passenger seat that is low enough for her to transfer when we want to use the manual wheelchair but can handle the weight of the power chair and the carrier. She may not be able to stand to transfer in the future but we have a transfer board that would help her slide from seat to car and back. Her powerchair elevates up and down.

What vehicle might fit our needs? I’m thinking maybe the Ford Flex.



Go to the bottom of this page for a lift on wheels. You could use it on your current car.

I have seen Camry’s carry powered wheel chairs. Also look at the scoota trailer at this site, your Camry can tow this easily.

Wouldn’t a small van with a lift be the most accessible alternative for all current and foreseeable needs?

Wife likes to sit in the actual vehicle seat. Current one is all power just like the driver’s, leather, has lumbar support, and heated. Mobility vans are too expensive and once you no longer need it, you have a very limited market for reselling the vehicle. Most of the time she uses the manual wheelchair. My/our main goal is to find a vehicle in which she can transfer into the passenger seat. I currently have a 2001 Silverado LT extended cab that I could add a carrier to but even though her power chair elevates, it still is about 6 inches too high to use the transfer board. I can’t see spending the money to have it ‘bagged’ or permanetly lowered as it has 165,000 miles. That’s why I’m looking for a new or near-new vehicle recommendation.

Thanks for the responses so far.

Ford Flex is a good idea, I’d also look at a Ford Escape and see if she likes it and is comfortable. I think a Subaru Forester might also fit the bill, though I’m not sure if it could accommodate your power chair.

What’s the weight of the setup?

For the future you may need a Braunability vehicle which could make it a lot easier to get in and out without any difficult transfer. All it takes is an arm or shoulder injury to make all else impossible. It may be hard to use a rear hatch with a lift installed.

I bought a 2013 Rav4 and I really needed a converted minivan. I should have kept the 4WD pickup because it was a lot easier to get into and out of until I got an appropriate vehicle.

Powerchair weight is 173 lbs. If I drive in on the carrier add 240 lbs. Then there is the weight of the hitch receiver (?), hitch (?), and the Carrier (roughly 100 lbs). Probably total about 525-550. I just think the weight distribution would change enough to effect the control of the vehicle…that’s why something a bit bigger and heavier (and newer) might be best.

I wanted to rent a Ford Flex but none of the rental agencies carry a Ford Flex in their fleet.

A lot of Ford dealers also rent vehicles. Try one of them for a Flex. Don’t mention that you are looking to eventually buy one, or they will be all over you.

I still think you can get a few more years out of the Camry and it will be perfectly suitable, however, two of the easiest cars to get in and out of for people with limited mobility are the Subaru Legacy and Subaru Outback. Their seats are about 18-19" off the ground which is chair height and they have slightly larger doors. Both can carry your chair on the back but the Outback may be more suitable for this job.

try a mazda 5. it’s a small minivan

Thank you for all the suggestions and advice. We have some time so I think we’ll just keep looking around.

Each vehicle has a max rated load. For the Forester, for example, it is 900 pounds. That would include your weight, your wife’s weight, and the weight of the cargo. If that if 550 lb, that allows only 350 lb for the you and wife.

That number for the Camry should be in your owners manual or in a placard located somewhere in the car.

I currently have a 2001 Silverado LT extended cab that I could add a carrier to but even though her power chair elevates, it still is about 6 inches too high to use the transfer board.

Put this in your Silverado.

If you get the seat base version, it uses your existing seat, and just replaces the factory base with one that will turn the chair and lower it to the ground. You can transfer it to your next vehicle when you get rid of the Silverado.

The Flex is a good idea. You might also look at the Toyota Venza. It is more like a raised Camry wagon than an SUV, which has a good chance of putting the seat at an appropriate height. I would be surprised if it couldn’t handle a motorized wheelchair. I’m surprised your Camry can’t. The overall load weight shouldn’t be a problem unless you are carrying large people in the back seat and luggage in the trunk. The Venza may be able to handle more. Most crossovers are taller and could be harder to get into. The Subaru Outback and Forester seem lower than some, possibly because they’re related to other cars. In the nicer ranks, the Acura RDX always seemed lower than many competitors.

There are a couple of less obvious models that come to mind, but I’m not sure how well they’d handle the chair. The Prius V is larger than the regular Prius in all dimensions, though the seats may not be high enough. It’s a very in-between vehicle. Another tweener is the Ford C-Max. I ride these as cabs fairly often and love the seating height. It only comes as a hybrid, but gets excellent gas mileage. There is also a plug-in hybrid version, but the larger battery takes a big bite out of the luggage space.

Have you sought the advice of specialty shops that do handicap conversions? They might be aware of a vehicle or a nonpermanent modification that will work for her.

Seriously, if she can get in and out of the Camry without much difficulty, the Camry can carry the powered wheel chair without any problems, either with a trailer or one of those attachments to the back of the car.

I respect the OP’s concerns about the weight distribution of having the power chair on a platform aft of the Camry rear bumper, and its effect on the Camry’s handling. I think the OP is wise to be looking at other possible alternatives.

For normal everyday driving, the weight distribution will not be a problem. It could be an issue in an ice storm or a road race. But if he wants another vehicle, that is fine. But getting another vehicle is because of a want and not a need.

It can definitely be a problem. Those powerchairs can be very heavy. Permobils routinely weigh 400 pounds. I wouldn’t want to stick 400 pounds off the back bumper of a Camry, personally.