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Vehicle options for child with mobility walker?

This is my first post here - hope it works! We have 2 kids, 4 yrs and 2 yrs. Our 4 year old has cerebral palsy that affects her mobility and she uses a small, lightweight walker to get around. There is a chance she’ll need a power wheelchair, but at this point, it’s looking hopeful that she won’t need it. We currently have a VW Golf TDI that we run on 100% recycled biodiesel (yes, we’re cyclist hippies at heart ;-), and an Audi Allroad station wagon. Unfortunately, we are having trouble getting our daughter in and out of these cars. It’s killing my back to lift her out of her walker and try to fold her and wedge her into her carseat and she’s tall enough now that we’re liable to bonk her head or hips or feet getting her in. SO, I’m looking for something that will be easy to get her in and out of and eventually that she could climb in & out of as independently as possible. My top priorities are reliability and the right kind of space. I need to get her walker in the back and potentially add a ramp and have space for a small wheelchair in the back. She’ll likely use a step to get in and out. She and her sister really like to sit beside each other so they can play.

Minivan? SUV / Cross over thingy? (I don’t even really know what these mean and my hippie cyclist heart shudders at the thought - but sweet kiddo’s needs come first!)

Some friends have mentioned: Mazda 5, Subaru Forester, VW Eurovan (I know they’re older, but darn, a VW camper would be groovy!), and VW Routan van.

I also live in the city and need to be able to parallel park this sucker on a daily basis. We love the mountains and go up to the snow often, so I’m happy if it’s also good in snow - but that’s not 100% necessary because we’ll still have the Allroad for mountain trips.

Any ideas would be very much appreciated!

Your best bet will be to consult with a mobility company about your needs who specializes in converting vehicles for handicap accessibility. Mini vans are the most popular for conversion like the Sienna, Odyssey, and Caravan, but full size vans and big SUVs can also be converted.
BTW a VW Routan van is just a Dodge caravan under the skin.

Yep , a minivan will be the default here.
At my sons’ school there’s a girl with one of those rolling walkers too. when she gets to her minivan she can dang near roll right in , it’s really convenient for her to function as much by herself as humanly possible.

A minivan would work, the Mazda 5 is the smallest one out there, I think. If you want something smaller, then a Forester or something like the Mazda CX-5 would also be worth checking out. Forget the Eurovan, you need reliable and safe transportation, it’s neither.

We found that a Prius was the correct height for our seniors. The liftback area was also at the right height for us when we placed/removed the transport chair.

take everything with you when you go look. Nothing worse than buying something you think will work, then it turns out to be one of the worst vehicles you could have bought. If you need to parallel park, get a back up camera, you won’t regret that purchase

Well ,the current Ford Trans Connect van would be ideal. It may be ugly (wasn’t even mentioned in the ugly car contest held here a couple weeks ago though) but it looks to be ideal for this purpose. Its is a small, car based, commercial van that is pretty economical.

For 2014, it will be redesigned for personal use with a lower roof line and upgraded, less commercial, more expensive interiors. In other words, Ford is going to ruin a good thing so you should look at one of these pretty soon.

There are at least a dozen mini vans within 1/2 mile of my home that are owned by grand parents who have found that it is much easier to handle the kids in a small van. My closest neighbor handled up to 6 kids under the age of 6 along with his disabled wife for quite a while. His wife recently died and he continues to get a bus load on occasion. Those wide side doors that slide open to a somewhat higher floor makes the vans ideal for tired old backs.

The Mazda5 gets the best mileage among minivans at 22 MPG city, 28 MPG highway and 24 MPG combined. The Honda Odyssey is next at 21/28/24. Test drive both. If you like them, then arrange for a test drive with your daughter. Actually, all you really need to do is practice getting her in and out of the van to see how it works. That doesn’t require a drive unless you (and she) want to. Maybe you should let hubby have a drive, too.

I’m wondering if it is possible that a small platform made of wood might be usable to get the four year old to go up a step or two to where it is then possible to turn about 90 degrees or less and then sit down on the car seat. Is it possible that you can help her up the step or steps? This would make it possible to use the car of your choice with a low seat height, of course. You can fasten a rope or a handle to the platform to pick it up to store in the trunk or back seat.

I’m also wondering if an unpowered wheel chair if needed one day is a better choice to get the benefit of some heart-lung exercise. Call it tough love!

Many vehicles including SUVs are not appropriate for people in wheelchairs due to the high seat height. A conventional car is much better in this regard. A folding wheelchair can be stored in the trunk of any car.

If you find you don’t need a full minivan, you might like the Ford C-Max, a bit smaller but similar in shape. It’s currently only available as a hybrid, but that might appeal to you. I found the interior very nice. Of similar size and shape is the Toyota Prius V. It has a completely different body from the regular Prius, taller and boxier, with much bigger rear doors. Even if you think you already know the Prius you may find the Prius V surprising in person, as it is much bigger than it looks in pictures. The Mazda5 is similar in size but has small third row seats and sliding rear doors, so looks and acts more like a minivan. For parking lots those sliding doors are a good thing and should interfere less with loading your daughter’s walker. All three of these vehicles have lower floors than an SUV.

Of course there are minivans, with the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey generally being the best. The Nissan Quest is slightly smaller and less practical and far less popular, but it isn’t awful. The Chrysler-Plymouth minivans have been less than reliable in recent years, and that includes the overpriced VW Routan. That wheezy old VW camper van? Don’t punish yourself with a slow, badly built deathtrap. There are reasons you hardly ever see them on the road. Other more wagonlike vehicles are the Ford Flex and Toyota Venza. Neither is as tall as a minivan, but they are quite roomy and are somewhere between a car and an SUV in practicality. The Flex has especially large rear doors (conventional, not sliding).

If the OP needs here child while using a walker or wheel chair to be able to get up into the vehicle with a built in ramp then have the room to maneuver into a seat with minimal assistance, then I think at least a full size mini van with sliding sider will be needed.

Depending on budget, the Cmaxx starts out at a price a little higher than the top of the line Mazda 5

We have a Toyota Sienna Rampvan, which sounds like it would meet your needs too. My daughter does use a walker and both kinds of wheelchairs. The interior has tie-downs for the chair, and other passengers can sit on the back bench. Downside is that Toyota will approve modifications done only at its own plant, which greatly increases the cost; having modifications done on your own voids the Toyota warranty. At least, that was the story in 2006. Still, the rampvan has made life a lot easier. Best wishes to your family!