July 23, 2019 at 3:46 PM
When it comes to choosing a car, there are a number of features that you need to consider if you're a wheelchair user or regularly transport a disabled person that uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Specially adapted cars called wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are available on the Motability Scheme or from specialist used car dealerships. As the name suggests, the disabled passenger is able to access the vehicle without moving from their wheelchair.
Most WAVs convert the boot area into a rear-entry point using a ramp. While this is helpful for those with severely limited mobility, it takes up a lot of space in the vehicle. If you, or the wheelchair user you transport, is able to move from the wheelchair to the car, you should search for a non-adapted car that is able to meet you needs.
Boot space is probably the biggest consideration in terms of size and ease of loading. The boot needs to be big enough to fit the wheelchair in as well as being low enough with a minimal lip to make lifting the wheelchair in as easy as possible.
Other features that you might need to consider are wide opening doors in the front and rear (depending on where the wheelchair passenger normally sits) and high seating that is level with their standing position.
Understandably, the bigger the car, the more boot space it has. Actually measuring boot space can be difficult because some manufacturers use litres and others use cubic metres - neither of which translate to the measurements of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
When you find a car you're interested in, you can ask the dealer or original manufacturer for the dimensions of the boot space. Once you have the dimensions of the boot in metres or inches, you need to measure your wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Most likely, your wheelchair or mobility scooter will be folded or dismantled in some way once it's in the car boot. You should measure it in it's smallest possible configuration so that you know the minimum boot space requirements. Take the following measurements:
If you know the dimensions of the wheelchair or mobility scooter you need to transport and the amount of space available in a car boot, you can work out if it meets your needs.
Dimensions can be deceiving because they will outline the capacity of the boot, but not necessarily the shape. Car boots are very rarely a perfect rectangular shape - you need to consider whether the sides of the boot slope inwards or if the back seats recline into the boot space.
If someone is going to be lifting the wheelchair or mobility scooter into the boot, you also need to take note of the boot height and whether the boot sill has a lip or not.
Most hatchbacks will have some sort of lip on their boot sill to increase the amount of space it can offer. This makes it more difficult to load heavy and bulky items like wheelchairs and mobility scooters, especially compared to SUVs and MPVs that typically have a flat boot area and no loading lip.
If the wheelchair or mobility scooter you use is too heavy for your carer or driver to lift, or you travel by yourself, you might need to consider installing a boot hoist.
The size and weight of the wheelchair or mobility scooter will affect the type of boot hoist you need and the space required to operate it successfully - unfortunately, not every car is compatible with every hoist.
However, certain hoists have been specifically designed to work in compact spaces. In order to accommodate this, you might need to sacrifice one or more of the rear seats by folding them down to make more space for the wheelchair or scooter.
Choosing the right car with enough boot space to carry your wheelchair or mobility scooter is fundamentally important. Here's our top tips to remember while you're searching for your next car:
We've already established that knowing the minimum amount of boot space you require for a wheelchair or mobility scooter is a deal-breaker for any potential purchase.
Before you start narrowing down your list of cars, make a separate list of all the features you want from a car. For example:
By having a defined list of features and minimum requirements that your car needs to meet, choosing the right car becomes much easier.
A test drive isn't just about how the car drives - you also need to determine how well this car will fit into your lifestyle and if it meets all your needs. Make sure you bring any mobility equipment you need to double check that it will actually fit in the boot.
Even if you're not going to be driving the car yourself, you need to find out how easy it is to get in and out of. It's important that you're comfortable in the car, especially if you're going to be spending a lot of time in it.
Buying a car is a big commitment, and if you need it to meet specific needs for your health or the health of someone you're transporting, you have to be sure that it's the right car.
The right car needs to make you happy as well as being functional. Take your time to find the car that is most suitable to your lifestyle as well as your disability.
The amount of space you need for your wheelchair or mobility scooter will largely dictate the type of car you're looking for. Below we take a look at some of the best cars to fit a wheelchair or scooter in the boot based on size.
The Volkswagen Group produce a range of boxy small cars that are capable of transporting lightweight folding wheelchairs. The Volkswagen up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo are almost identical except for the badges.
These cars come with a surprising 252 litres of boot space that increases to 959 litres with the rear seats folded down. In addition, a variable boot floor is an optional extra which provides a completely flat load area if you wanted to lay the wheelchair down instead of standing it up.
The cube-like design means that it's able to take up very little space on the road while offering a spacious interior for up to four passengers.
One of the standout cars in this size category is the Honda Jazz hatchback. The 'Magic Seats' in the rear can be folded flat, but you can also flip the bases up (like cinema seats) to make space for tall items in the footwells.
In terms of boot space, the Jazz offers 354 litres which can be extended to 1,314 litres when you make use of the 'Magic Seats'. The boot lip is low making it easier to load bulky and heavy items. You also get a couple of anchor points which you could use to secure the wheelchair or scooter in place.
Other cars that you might consider buying in this class include the Nissan Note, Volkswagen Golf and Ford B-Max.
Estate cars might be quite an obvious choice because they characteristically have a large boot space that could easily transport a wheelchair lying flat. Once again, the Volkswagen Group supply a range of practical mobility cars in this category.
The Skoda Octavia, Volkswagen Golf Estate and SEAT Leon ST Estate are essentially the same car with a standard boot capacity of 587 litres. With the rear seats folded down, this extends to a massive 1,660 litres.
The boot space has very little intrusion from the wheelarch and the boot floor is adjustable so that it can sit flush with the rear bumper meaning that items can be slid in much easier.
The SUV sector has boomed over the past decade with new models consistently entering the market. Typically they offer a raised ride height which is particularly beneficial to those with limited mobility because the seats are closer to their standing position.
Within the SUV class, there are a range of sizes to consider, starting with compact SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. The latter offers class-leading boot space of 1,235 litres with the rear seats folded down compared to 1,189 litres available in the Juke.
If you need something bigger, popular mid-sized SUVs include the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Dacia Duster. Each of these models come with a large boot space that could accommodate a wheelchair or mobility scooter with additional mobility aids.
Arguably, MPVs are the best choice for car buyers looking to find a car that is most-suited to transporting a wheelchair or mobility scooter in the boot.
The Citroen Berlingo Multispace and Peugeot Partner Tepee are both van-based models that offer a modular interior space that can be configured to accommodate the load you need to carry.
Alternatively, if you want something that looks more like a car, the Ford C-Max comes with 471 litres of boot space as standard. If you need even more space, you could upgrade to the larger Grand C-Max.