Rear Entry vs. Side Entry Minivans (Pros & Cons) 

In this article, you'll learn the pros and cons of rear entry vs. side entry minivans.

Rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans. Which option is right for you?

Deciding between the two can be a difficult feat. If you choose the wrong option, the lives of both your passengers and your organization will become exponentially more difficult–their mobility will be impacted, meaning that they may miss key appointments or engagements.

At MoveMobility, we understand making these kinds of vital decisions on your own can be confusing and intimidating. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations like yours choose the right option for them over 10 years–so we know how to help you make the best decision for your program. 

In this article, you’ll learn: 

  • The pros and cons of a rear entry minivan
  • The pros and cons of a side entry minivan
  • How a minivan is different from a full size van
  • The difference between rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans

And by the time you’re done reading, you’ll have the tools you need to decide which option is best for your organization.

Rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans: what’s the difference?

Before we establish the pros and cons of rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans, we have to define how, exactly, they’re different. 

Rear entry minivans are accessible vehicles that wheelchair users exit through the back of the van. 

Side entry minivans are accessible vehicles that wheelchair users exit through the side of the van. 

Now that you understand the major difference between rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans, you can learn their pros and cons. 

Pros of rear entry minivans

1. Can be easier for passengers to get in and out of

Rear entry wheelchair vans can offer easy entry and exit. Think of the logistics of a parking lot: the backside of a vehicle is always going to have more room available because of the driving aisles than a side entry door, which could be blocked in by other vehicles. 

Cons of rear entry minivans

1. Passengers get in and out of the wheelchair van on the street/driveway

Depending on where your van is parked, your passengers may need to unload near a street or parking space if a driveway is unavailable. Entering and exiting the vehicle on the street can be a pro or a con, depending on who you ask. 

For some passengers, constantly loading and unloading from on the street can be intimidating. It’s important to consider the comfort levels of your passengers when making this big decision.

2. Wheelchairs are secured in the middle or back of the van

Rear entry wheelchair minivans have the middle of the van cut out so that the wheelchair can be safely secured onto the vehicle floor. The cut happens to extend to the driver and passenger seat and sits lower than the factory floor. 

This makes it impossible for the wheelchair to be secured in the front passenger position. 

Pros of side entry minivans

1. Wheelchair users can be positioned at the front

In a side entry minivan, the wheelchair user can be positioned closer to the front of the van, or even in the front passenger seat area. As I previously mentioned, rear entry vans cannot offer this. 

For some wheelchair users, this is very important because utilizing a side entry minivan allows the person in the wheelchair to feel included.

2. Can get in and out of the van using the sidewalk

For some passengers, getting in and out of a wheelchair van using the street can be intimidating and even make them feel unsafe because of cars whizzing by. 

So, sometimes a side entry van is the better option simply because it will be more comfortable for the passenger. Side entry lets you load and unload passengers directly onto the curb/sidewalk.

Cons of side entry minivans

1. You have to turn the wheelchair around

To secure the wheelchair user into the van properly, you’ll have to turn the wheelchair to face forward once inside the van. 

If the wheelchair is bigger and heavier, this may be a difficult process because you will have to physically turn the wheelchair around in a small space.

2. Can only have a ramp

With side entry minivans, a lift can’t be installed because it has to be parallel to the ground. A sidewalk or curb would not allow this. 

How is a minivan different from a full size van?

Minivans and full size vans have four major differences:

  • Minivans are less expensive
  • Minivans are smaller and can be easier to drive
  • Minivans are lower to the ground, making a ramp flatter
  • Minivans hold fewer wheelchairs, with a capacity of about 1-2 wheelchairs

Check out this article to learn about the pros and cons of rear vs. side entry full size vans. 

Your next steps for choosing between rear entry minivans vs side entry minivans

You came to this article wanting to know the pros and cons of rear entry minivans vs side entry minivans. 

Now, you’ve learned: 

  • The pros and cons of a rear entry minivan
  • The pros and cons of a side entry minivan
  • How a minivan is different from a full size van
  • The difference between rear entry minivans vs. side entry minivans

If you’re still not sure which option is right for you, talk to a MoveMobility expert today

Or, learn more about accessible vehicles by checking out these related articles: 

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