4 Reasons You Need a Compact Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Honda HR-V Rear Entry Wheelchair Accessible

When thinking about wheelchair accessible conversions, the first vehicles that come to mind are usually vans. Large box vans were some of the first vehicles to be converted for wheelchair accessibility. In 1987, Freedom Motors USA founder Anthony van Dillen converted the first minivan for wheelchair accessibility with a lowered floor, the Dodge Grand Caravan

There are lots of reasons why vans make such good candidates for wheelchair accessible vehicles. Their spacious interiors and wide door openings allow plenty of room for wheelchair users to access the vehicle. They also make great candidates for both rear and side-entry vehicles, making them versatile and customizable.

Of course, there are things other vehicles do better. SUVs and compact crossovers are becoming more commonly available as wheelchair accessible vehicle conversions, bringing with them a host of features that make them unique. Let’s take a look at 4 of the reasons why we love compact wheelchair vehicles right now.

Parking a Compact SUV is Easy

Let’s admit it – trying to find a parking space for a minivan is not fun. Limited visibility and a wide turning radius are not your friends when it comes to navigating a busy and crowded parking lot. 

Making this situation even more frustrating, disability designated parking spaces are limited and often already filled. Having to park at the opposite end of the parking lot to be able to deploy a side-entry ramp makes for a long, frustrating day. A rear-entry ramp can alleviate this problem by allowing the ramp to be deployed as long as there’s space behind the vehicle, as in most parking lots.

Of course, getting to a parking space is only half the battle. Loading and unloading passengers can be just as tricky as backing out of the space. The ramp will not extend as far out of a parking space when deployed with a more compact vehicle, allowing for easier access.

The difference between finding a parking spot for a Kia Soul and a Toyota Sienna is night and day. Now that SUVs are accessible, let’s leave behind the days of circling the parking lot looking for a space wide enough to accommodate a van.

Wheelchair Accessible SUVs

Compact SUVs Make City Driving a Breeze

Elaborating on the first point in this list, everything that makes parking in a van difficult also makes it hard to drive in any urban or high traffic areas. Vans are just more challenging to drive in high traffic areas because of limited visibility inside the vehicle, a wide turn radius and slower acceleration speeds.

Accessible crossovers solve these problems. Their smaller profile and zippier engine means they can make tight turns easily, and their shape makes blind spots much more manageable. Additionally, they make it much easier to navigate narrow spaces like alleys and parking garages that can feel claustrophobic in a van.

Kia soul green Rear Entry Wheelchair

Go Green and Save on Gas

Whether you live in a city or a rural area, no one wants to spend more money on gas. Unless we’re talking about something like the Toyota Sienna Hybrid, vans are not going to be as efficient as smaller vehicles. 

These effects are going to be exaggerated for those who do a lot of city driving, where gas mileage is worse because of the constant stopping and starting at traffic lights. Those who mostly drive on the highway or in rural areas without a lot of traffic might not notice as big of a difference.

Make/Model Average Combined MPG
Toyota Sienna Hybrid 36 MPG
Kia Soul 31 MPG
Toyota Sienna 21 MPG
Dodge Grand Caravan 20 MPG


Although the Toyota Sienna Hybrid comes out on top because of it’s no-charge hybrid drivetrain, the Kia Soul and isn’t far behind. Notice how both the non-hybrid Toyota Sienna and the Dodge Grand Caravan get around 10 miles less per gallon compared to the Soul.

Go Where You Want in Style

Let’s be frank: minivans aren’t exactly in vogue right now. While minivans have always been known for their better qualities, like being great for families and accessibility, they’ve never really blown us away with their looks. 

Minivans are very much function over form, which is great for those looking for a practical vehicle. But with more and more SUVs being converted for wheelchair accessibility, there’s no need to choose between having a stylish vehicle and having an accessible one. 

There’s no better example of this than the Kia Soul. Its unique profile and array of vibrant, eye-catching colors are sure to turn heads. Over the years, Kia has shied away from the friendly, cutesy look of earlier Soul models in favor of a sleeker, sportier look for the compact SUV.

Best of all, the Soul’s compact size makes it so much easier to maneuver through urban areas than what would be possible in a van. It’s easy to forget you’re driving a converted vehicle at all.

2020 Kia Soul wheelchair accessible

Let Us Find the Right Vehicle for You

We love compact SUVs for all the reasons on this list and more, but of course they won’t be for everyone. The Kia Soul are great for their small size, but those looking for more ambulatory passenger seating or a more powerful engine may want to consider looking at our line-up of full size SUVs. For more ambulatory passengers as well as room for up to two wheelchair passengers, check out our vans that can be customized to fit your needs. 

About Freedom Motors USA Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Why buy your wheelchair accessible vehicle from Freedom Motors USA? It’s simple. Freedom Motors is family-owned and has been creating accessible vehicle conversions since 1987, making us one of the first companies in the industry. We have experience getting our customers what they need.

  • Don’t know where to start? Our team of Mobility Specialists will work with you to help find the vehicle that best suits your needs.
  • Shop from Home – Freedom Motors will come to you anywhere in the country to provide a demonstration of any of our wheelchair conversions.
  • Exclusive Stock – Shop our expansive list of Wheelchair Accessible SUVs that you won’t find anywhere else in the mobility industry, including the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Kia Sorento, Kia Soul, and Kia Telluride.
  • Premium Features – Freedom Motors conversions offer top-of-the-line features, like the automatic rear-entry ramp or our full and half-cut options that allow for more passenger seating options.
  • Superwide Ramps – Freedom Motors offers some of the widest ramps in the industry that you won’t find anywhere else, including the Superwide 40” Dodge Grand Caravan and the Superwide 48” Toyota Sienna.
  • Dedicated to Keeping You Moving – Contact us today and we’ll work with you to find the right vehicle for you.

Freedom Motors USA | Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles