Side Entry Minivans
Installing Side Entry Minivans and Full Floor Side Entry Vans
A side entry minivan (wheelchair van) uses the sliding side door to provide entry into the lowered floor vehicle along with a folding ramp similar to the rear entry van. The lowered floor area inside varies by model. BraunAbility and Savaria make a short floor side entry van that provides for a lowered floor area in the center of the vehicle—behind the front row area. This design is ideal for families, so that the wheelchair passenger can ride in the center area. Savaria offers an optional caregiver seat that can be installed close to the wheelchair position. The shorter floor also keeps this design more affordable than a full floor side entry design.
Full floor side entry vans are costlier because they offer a lowered floor area up to the front firewall of the vehicle, which allows easier access to the front row and are ideal for wheelchair users who want to drive or sit in the front row passenger seat. A power folding ramp, powered sliding door and kneeling can be optional equipment for a full floor side entry van.
Buy the converted van, or buy your van and convert it?
Some dealers have wheelchair vans in stock and ready to go. But if you prefer, you can factory order your wheelchair van conversion, or you can purchase a van and then send it to the conversion manufacturer to be made accessible. What works best for you also depends on whether or not you can find what you want in stock. Some manufacturers such as Savaria will also convert used minivans. Always check with the manufacturer or local dealer about what vans can be converted to be sure you purchase the correct trim package that can be converted. Not all used vans can be converted, so it is best to check first.