Ford wheelchair vans come in two basic varieties. The E-Series full-sized vans are regularly modified for use as wheelchair vehicles. Ford no longer produces minivans, but its Windstar and successor Freestar minivans sold fairly well during their production years and many used vehicles are still on the road, serving ably as wheelchair vehicles.
There are many ways to get into a wheelchair van, but two are more popular than the others are. Either you can enter via a ramp or you can use a wheelchair lift. Both options are available for Ford wheelchair vans.
Lifts Compare To Ramps
Ramps are more commonly used than lifts. There are a few reasons for this. The most obvious is the matter of pricing. Motorized lifts tend to be considerably more expensive than lifts. Another reason is space. Ramps can be quite efficient. Many will collapse and hide under the vehicle and some will fold neatly during travel. Lifts, on the other hand, either fold up on the outside of the vehicle or fold away inside the passenger area, where they tend to take up a great deal of space.
Let us discuss the various lift entry options among Ford wheelchair vans.
Ford minivans use ramps for side-entry. The Windstar and Freestar are both relatively large minivans, but they lack the space necessary to handle a side-entry ramp. There may be a few exceptions to that rule, but if those custom conversions are is use, they are undoubtedly rare. Lift entry is possible with the minivans, however. Rear-entry configurations, in which the wheelchair user gets in and out of the vehicle through the rear doors or under the liftgate can make practical use of a lift. That is because the lift will fold up for exterior storage, snug against the vehicle.
That does not mean you cannot have a side-entry Ford wheelchair van. It just means you cannot manage that with a Windstar or Freestar. The E-Series vans do offer adequate space for side-entry lifts and that conversion is not uncommon. Still, the collapsed units are space-intensive which is why lift entry variations utilizing rear-entry still outnumber side-entry variations.
If you want to use a lift to access a Ford wheelchair van, you have three different options at your disposal:
- First, you can purchase a Windstar or Freestar minivan with a conversion package featuring a rear-entry lift.
- Second, you can purchase a full-sized E-Series van with rear-entry lift access.
- Third, you can purchase a full-sized E-Series van with a side-entry lift.
Considering the age of the remaining roadworthy Windstars and Freestars, we would recommend drivers interested in a minivan to consider other makes. The Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan are all compelling alternatives. None, however, offer side-entry lift entry. All are available with rear entry lifts.
If you are committed to driving a Ford or are comfortable with a full-sized wheelchair van, the E-Series vehicles are a fine choice. They will be able to hand any imaginable conversion and they have a strong reputation for durability.