May 02, 2019 at 3:59 PM
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are standard vehicles that have been specially converted for a wheelchair or scooter user to access the vehicle while remaining in their wheelchair or scooter.
The specialist conversion company will make significant alterations such as lowering the floor, removing standard seats and adding a fold-away ramp. To accommodate all of these changes, WAVs need to have a large interior space; as a result, they're typically converted from van-based models.
Although they might offer an easier conversion, van-based models provide a different driving experience and aren't the most stylish. Alternatively, there's a range of wheelchair accessible cars that offer plenty of space for the wheelchair user and a more enjoyable driving experience.
To help you decide which wheelchair accessible cars you should have on your list, we've compiled the 10 best on the UK market.
This large MPV is a seven-seater in standard configuration with enough head and leg room to seat seven adults, making it a perfect model to be converted into a WAV. Although it's still on sale as a new car in certain countries, the latest version is not sold in the UK.
If you want a wheelchair accessible Kia Sedona, it will have to be a used model from 2006 - 2012. Fortunately, it was a popular model, particularly with wheelchair and scooter users, so there are plenty of examples that have already been converted.
There are a range of conversions available which have been carried out by specialist companies, including Brotherwood, Brook Miller and Wilson & Healy. The Sedona offers both rear and side entry conversions.
Rear entry is more common and provides a ramp into the boot area of the car. To complete this conversion, three of the standard seats need to be removed leaving four regular seats plus space for the wheelchair passenger.
Finding a side entry Sedona conversion is quite rare. It adds a ramp to the front passenger area of the car so that the wheelchair user sits next to the driver. This means that the seats in the second and third rows remain untouched, so it's still a seven-seater despite transporting a passenger in their wheelchair or scooter.
On sale since 1995, the Volkswagen Sharan is one of the most stylish cars on this list of WAVs. The large MPV proportions give the vehicle a sturdy road presence, while the Volkswagen badge in the centre of the grille promises the manufacturer's trademark quality.
The large and practical interior provides the wheelchair user and able-bodied passengers with plenty of space to travel in comfort. It's equipped with high quality features as standard and provides a refined ride quality, making it a luxurious wheelchair accessible car to travel in.
Conversions to this model are typically completed by Brotherwood with two options available - Super 5 and Passenger Priority. Both conversions provide access via the rear with the wheelchair user sitting close to the second row of passengers.
The main difference is that Super 5 adds a quickfold centre seat so that there are five regular seats plus space for the wheelchair passenger. The Passenger Priority conversion places the wheelchair beside the rear passengers in a more advanced position.
The Sharan has the choice of a 1.4-litre or 2.0-litre engine, both of which are available in manual and automatic transmission. It's currently on the Motability Scheme and there are plenty of examples on the used market, although they can be quite expensive.
The multi award-winning Seat Alhambra is built on the same platform as the Sharan, making it virtually identical to its Volkswagen cousin. It was most recently voted Best MPV by WhatCar? in 2015 while also scooping the same award in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Conversions to the sporty-looking Alhambra are exclusively completed by Lewis Reed who won the Motability award for the Best Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Supplier in 2011.
Access to the WAV is via the tailgate where a lightweight TorSpring ramp is added to provide a shallow incline for the wheelchair or scooter user onto a perfectly level flat floor with plenty of headroom for larger passengers.
Similar to the Sharan, there are two different wheelchair positions. As standard, the Alhambra comes with three seats in the second row. The middle seat can be removed so that the wheelchair passenger can have a more advanced position in the back that's closer to the other passengers. The maximum capacity is five standard seats plus the wheelchair user.
The engine range in the Sharan is actually borrowed from Seat. As a result, the Alhambra is also available with a 1.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel, both of which can be specified with manual or automatic gearboxes. Despite being a very similar car, Seat's MPV is cheaper than Volkswagen's. You can find used versions from selected dealers and it's available from new on the Motability Scheme.
The Vauxhall Zafira has been one of the most popular MPVs on the UK market since its introduction in 1999. Traditionally sold as a seven-seater people carrier, it can easily be converted into a spacious WAV.
The boot is transformed into a tailgate to accommodate the ramp and the floor is lowered to allow the wheelchair or scooter user to access the car with plenty of headroom for a comfortable journey.
Typically, the conversion is suitable for three passengers plus the wheelchair passenger. There's a single seat in the second row leaving the opposite side free for any luggage or additional equipment.
Conversions that allow for an extra able-bodied passenger are available, but are far less common. The fourth seat occupies the free space in the second row - normally, this is behind the driver.
Discontinued in the UK, the Zafira is only available on the used market and usually comes with a 1.8-litre petrol engine with a manual gearbox.
Ford are renowned for the driving experience their passenger cars produce. Despite being a people carrier, the Galaxy model is still exciting to drive with the added practicality of extra space.
In its standard format, the Galaxy is a seven-seater MPV; however, as a WAV the third row of seats are removed and replaced with a lower floor and ramp to allow a wheelchair passenger to access the car via the rear.
The middle seat in the second row folds flat, so you have the option of transporting four or five regular passengers. The Galaxy is a fantastic option for anyone that needs a family-size WAV.
Although it isn't available on the Motability Scheme, you can purchase a Ford Galaxy from new and pay for the conversion work to be completed. Alternatively, you can search the used market with petrol and diesel versions both available with either manual or automatic gearboxes.
A wheelchair adapted Galaxy is an extremely practical and affordable solution, not to mention, it's one of the most attractive conversion models on offer.
Unlike the other cars on this list so far, the Kia Soul is not a people carrier - it's actually a hatchback with crossover styling that makes it stand out from the crowd.
The squared-off design is a departure from the sleek lines seen on its rivals including the Renault Captur, Skoda Karoq and Nissan Juke. Although unconventional in the market, it helps with interior space and practicality making it a viable wheelchair accessible car.
Conversions to the Kia Soul are exclusively completed by Sirus Automotive. A lightweight counter-balanced short ramp is added in the boot area to provide access via the newly engineered tailgate.
Two of the standard rear seats are removed to make room for a wheelchair or scooter passenger. One of the rear seats remains in place so that three people can be transported plus the wheelchair user.
The Kia Soul is available on the Motability Scheme with the option of a 1.6-litre engine in petrol or diesel. Depending on your budget, you can choose any model from the entry level '1' specification up to the specially engineered 'Sport' version.
The all-new Peugeot Rifter has replaced the Partner-Tepee MPV in the French manufacturer's lineup. Described as a 'leisure activity vehicle', the Rifter was built with modularity in mind, which is perfect for a WAV.
Despite sharing underpinnings with the Peugeot commercial vehicle range, the Rifter is not a van; it was designed from the ground up to carry people and not just cargo.
Allied Mobility remain the exclusive conversion partner with the Horizon name also being carried over for the specialist wheelchair accessible version. Horizon RS conversions keep the full original Peugeot seating, while the RE option provides one or two single rear seats.
Access is via the tailgate where the unique EasyGlide™ wheelchair ramp will be added. It folds into the boot floor when not in use and simply pulls out to become a strong and shallow ramp. Once the wheelchair passenger is in the vehicle, the ramp can be folded upwards behind them.
The Rifter was only released into the UK market in 2018 so they aren't readily available on the used market. However, they are on the Motability Scheme in a range of transmissions and configurations for those that are eligible.
First introduced to the UK market in 2006 and updated in 2010, the Skoda Roomster is arguably the most innovative car produced by the Czech manufacturer. It combined the driving pleasure of a family hatchback, the versatility of a MPV and the practicality from a van-based passenger car.
All of this functionality is packaged in a car with a quirky design that costs substantially less than a purpose-built 5-seater MPV. As the name suggests, the Roomster was designed to be spacious - it has a sloping roofline that offers passengers in the rear extra head and leg room.
As a WAV, two of the rear seats are removed to accommodate the wheelchair passenger with access via the tailgate. A single seat in the second row remains in place so that the car can transport three passengers plus the wheelchair or scooter user.
The Roomster was not the most popular vehicle when it was on sale which means they are more difficult to find. Any models that have already been converted into a WAV would have been produced by Lewis Reed.
The Chrysler Grand Voyager is the most flexible car on this list with a range of configuration and conversion options available; however it's also the oldest - UK production finished on this model finished in 2008.
At 5,143mm long, its sheer size makes it a great wheelchair accessible vehicle candidate. Like many of the cars in this list, the wheelchair user can access the lowered floor inside the vehicle via a ramp at the rear. In this configuration, the third row of seats need to be removed leaving four standard seats for able-bodied passengers.
Alternatively, the Grand Voyager can be converted with an automated side ramp which is more expensive, but provides more options. The wheelchair passenger can choose to sit in the front next to the driver, or in the second row behind the driver but in front of the other three passengers in the third row.
The wheelchair user could even drive the Grand Voyager if the necessary adaptations are also put in place. Although it limits the standard seating to the front passenger and third row (for access requirements), the wheelchair user would have complete independence.
As previously mentioned, the Grand Voyager is quite an old model, which makes finding one on the used market quite challenging.
The quirky Italian MPV provides a compact and original design with a range of configuration options to suit the individual needs of the wheelchair or scooter user.
The standard Brook Miller conversion adds a lightweight low angled ramp at the back to provide access via the tailgate. Depending on the size of the wheelchair or scooter, a single standard seat can also be fitted behind the front passengers.
However, other conversion options are available. The rear seats can be replaced with a fold out twin seat which can be pushed to the side to allow the wheelchair passenger to sit alongside the driver in the front passenger position.
If the disabled passenger has a valid driving license and the necessary adaptations are added to the car, they could even drive the Qubo and potentially have another wheelchair user next to them in the front.
The standard Qubo conversion is available on the Motability Scheme from both Brook Miller and Sirus Automotive. Alternatively, you can purchase a used Qubo and find a specialist engineer to modify the interior to your needs.
Our range of used WAV stock feature various adaptations and conversions to help families and passengers with limited mobility. We've been recognised as specialists in used WAVs in the South West of England for more than 20 years.
Search our used WAV stocklist to see what specially adapted vehicles we have available.