Buying something like a wheelchair van is almost like buying a house–albeit, a small house. You’re investing your money in something you or your organization will be using every day. So, you need to do some exploring to determine what, exactly, you’re looking for.
When house hunting, you typically start with a list of requirements the house needs to have before you’ll even go look at it. You know enough basic information to get you started: you’re a family of 4, and you need more than 1 bathroom, so you’ll turn to Google for a quick search:
“Three-bedroom, 2-bathroom home, 5-minute walk from the grocery store.”
And hundreds of results will pop up showing you houses in your area.
But when it comes to looking at wheelchair vans, that first step isn’t so simple. How do you know if you need a full size van or a minivan? Your budget is less than $100,000… can you still afford a full size van? You want to transport 2 wheelchairs and 3 passengers… will a minivan suffice?
At MoveMobility, we want to make the initial steps toward buying a wheelchair van easier for you, and that means giving you all the information you need to make this first, vital decision.
In this article, you’ll directly compare full size vans and minivans based on the top 5 differences, and by the time you’re done reading, you’ll hopefully know which option is right for you.
Full size wheelchair vans vs. minivans: what are the differences?
There are 5 major differences between a full size van and a minivan that we can use to compare the two:
- Driver and passenger comfortability
These 5 differences will help you decide which option is right for you, starting with capacity.
When we mention capacity in terms of accessible vehicles, there are two kinds of capacities we’re talking about: the number of wheelchairs the van can transport, and the number of passengers the van can transport.
Minivans can generally transport 1-2 wheelchairs.
Full size vans can transport 1-3 wheelchairs.
Minivans can generally transport up to 4 passengers.
Full size vans can transport up to 10 passengers.
While price shouldn’t be the deciding factor in choosing a full size van or a minivan, we understand it’s an important part of the decision-making process.
So, here is a general range of prices you’ll typically see for both options.
|Minivans||Full size vans|
|$75,000 – $100,000||$120,000 – $170,000|
Keep in mind that these are general ranges and that they are subject to change at any time without notice. Check out this article for a more in-depth breakdown of what a wheelchair van costs and why.
The next factor to consider when choosing between a full size van and a minivan is where you will be parking.
When using a full size van, you won’t be able to park in a parkade (or parking garage) because the van roof is too high.
With a minivan, parking is generally easier than it is with a full size van because the van is smaller.
The second last factor you should consider is how flexible you need your accessible vehicle to be.
When it comes to minivans, there is generally less flexibility because there is less space. You won’t be able to configure the layout of your van to suit your needs.
Full size vans come with an AutoFloor flexible floor and seating system.
AutoFloor is a floor track and seating system that allows you to change seats and wheelchair positioning in the vehicle, creating different layouts. For example, here are some of the different layouts you can try:
That was a lot of information we just covered, so here is an overview of everything you’ve learned so far:
|Wheelchairs||Minivan||Full size van|
|Up to 4||✔||✔|
|Up to 10||✘||✔|
|AutoFloor flexible floor and seating system||✘||✔|
Driver and passenger comfortability
The final factor you should think about is driver and passenger comfortability.
Here at MoveMobility, we often hear our drivers talk about how comfortable our full size vans are, and that they don’t feel too different from sitting in a normal car.
It’s important to always consider your drivers comfort because they will be the ones driving the van all day.
Passenger comfortability is equally as important. In a full size van, passengers have good visibility–meaning, the windows in the van are large enough for them to see out of.
Now that you know how to compare full size vans and minivans, you’re probably wondering who each option is right for. Read on to find out.
Full size wheelchair vans vs. minivans: who is each option right for?
Sometimes, the deciding factor for organizations or personal users choosing between a minivan or full size van can come down to one question: how many passengers will you be transporting?
Once you determine your capacity needs, this choice becomes a lot simpler. Here is a short recap of all the information we covered in this article:
|Full size vans are right for:||Minivans are right for:|
|Organizations that transport more than one wheelchair, such as adult daycares and care homes||Clients who only need to transport 1-2 wheelchairs|
|Organizations that provide a transportation service, such as accessible taxis and Handi-Transit||Clients who prefer to budget for a less expensive option|
|Remote First Nations communities–especially ones that will be driving the van on rough winter roads||Personal users, such as families, who want an accessible vehicle because they have a family member with mobility challenges|
For more information on full size vans vs. minivans, check out this related article from BraunAbility.
Your next steps to choosing between full size wheelchair vans vs. minivans
You came to this article to learn if a full size van or a minivan is right for you.
Now, you’ve learned the 5 differences between both options that can help you make the right decision.
If you’re still not sure which van is right for you, talk to a MoveMobility expert now.
Or, check out these related articles to learn more: