Side Entry vs. Rear Entry Wheelchair Vehicles

As you begin your search for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, one of the most important choices you will make is deciding between a side entry or rear entry conversion. Read on to see how each design compares when it comes to utility, layout and price.

Benefits of Side Entry Accessible Vans

  • Ideal for Drivers and Passengers: Side entry accessible vans certainly have their perks, chief among them being the ability to drive in select conversions like the Toyota Sienna Hybrid. Styles that feature an accessible driver position will also include access to the front passenger position as well.
  • Variety of Seating Options: Many side entry vans have removable front and passenger seats, ultimately giving you three different areas to choose from as opposed to one location in the center of the vehicle. This also leaves you with an option to transport a second wheelchair user if need be.
  • Extra Floor-to-Ceiling Space: When it comes to accessible wheelchair vans, one of the most common modifications made to accommodate wheelchair passengers is to lower the floor of the vehicle. This provides the extra floor to ceiling clearance needed to permit a person to remain seated in their wheelchair while entering, riding in or driving the vehicle.
  • Cargo Room: Unlike rear entry vehicles, the cargo area of a side entry van is unobstructed by a ramp or lift. This preserves the space in your trunk, leaving it available to store whatever you may need.
  • Availability: Because side entry conversions are so popular, you can choose from a wide range of models like the Chevrolet Traverse, Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna.
New Side-Entry Technology

Shiny silver mobility van with wheelchair ramp and enormous black-over ear headphones surrounding both sides of the vehicle

Side entry conversions are designed with space and comfort in mind for everyone in the vehicle. That’s why Driverge® Vehicle Innovations designed their Quiet Ride™ technology, available on the Dodge Grand Caravan. Quiet Ride technology reduces the clunky sounds of conversion equipment often heard in other accessible vehicles, providing a peaceful ride for wheelchair users and other passengers.





Benefits of Rear Entry Accessible Vans

  • Ideal for Caregivers or Wheelchair Passengers: If you regularly provide transportation for a wheelchair user or you are wheelchair user who prefers to ride as a passenger, a rear entry conversion is an efficient solution. You do not have to worry about removing or securing the front seats, as they are designed to stay in place. Additionally, the center cut design leaves ample room for larger wheelchairs.
  • Easier Parking: Finding convenient parking for an accessible vehicle can be a hassle, especially if someone parks too close to a side entry conversion. Since rear entry vans feature their ramp in the back of the vehicle, you have the flexibility to park in any accessible space, without needing extra room on the side.
  • Cost-Effective: Rear entry accessible vans do not require as much modification to the vehicle. Because of this, they tend to be less expensive than a side entry design.
  • Easy Entrance/Exit: Rear entry ramps are the simplest to navigate in a wheelchair. The user or caregiver simply just heads straight up the ramp and secures the chair in place. There is no need to maneuver the chair into the correct position as is the case with side entry conversions.
  • Built to Last: You can find rear entry conversions on reliable models such as the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica.
New Rear-Entry Technology

Driverge Rear entry with right seat flipped upRear entry conversions may be considered a standard design but that doesn’t mean manufacturers have stopped looking for ways to improve the user experience. In early 2021, Driverge® Vehicle Innovations introduced a game changing conversion to the market: FlexFlat™ technology. Built with a ramp that covers the wheelchair well when not in use, FlexFlat technology gives users the flexibility to transport a wheelchair user one day and stow items in their cargo space the next.

The original FlexFlat, launched in January, has seating for four passengers plus a wheelchair user. As Driverge engineers worked to find a solution for larger families, the FlexFlat 7 arrived in September, with seating for seven passengers, or five passengers plus a wheelchair user. The innovation will not stop there however, with FlexFlat 6 expected to arrive in fall of 2021.


Making Your Choice

The choices you are presented with when deciding on an accessible van can seem overwhelming at first, that’s why our Certified Mobility Consultants are trained to find the right vehicle for your unique needs. Contact us today to schedule your free Needs Analysis! Whether you choose a side entry or a rear entry accessible vehicle, we will be there for you every step of the way and make sure your vehicle fits your lifestyle for the miles ahead.

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