For those with disabilities, wheelchair minivans offer either a ramp or lift to get the chair into its proper place. While the lift has its fans, the ramp has the edge in popularity due to its price and convenience.
Ramps can be deployed manually or electronically from a passenger side door. They can be a fold-out or in-floor style. (In-floor ramps slide in and out from beneath the floor.)
Each has its drawbacks and advantages, so weigh the options against your situation.
- The installation is less extensive and therefore less expensive than the in-floor ramp.
- It easily deploys on tall sidewalk curbs, a big plus where parking is limited.
- Since it stows in the entryway, the ramp blocks the doorway, so it must be deployed when the door opens, unless the van has doors on both sides of the compartment.
- Because it stows in the passenger compartment, it is less apt to corrode or freeze up in colder climates.
- There is usually no manual option; if the van loses power, the ramp won’t operate unless there is a backup system or a hand crank.
- An in-floor ramp is roomier as it doesn’t block the doorway – it rests in a pocket under the floor. Passengers enter and exit without having to deploy the ramp – an important consideration if you have passengers.
- High sidewalk curbs may prevent the in-floor ramp from deploying.
- When pocketed, the ramp cannot be seen from inside or outside the van, making it look more attractive.
Both ramp styles have their benefits; and your individual needs will determine which is best for you. Discuss the pros and cons of each with a therapist or Driver Rehabilitation Specialist.