Expert Review: 2005 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Vans

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If you buy a full-sized handicap van from the 2005 line-up, there’s a good chance it will be a Ford E-150, E-250 or E-350. Ford’s E-Series continues to dominate the large wheelchair van class.

There are many good things about the E-Series. It has the raw space necessary to handle a variety of functions. It features a track record of reliability. The dominance of the E-Series means that there are a number of industry-specific conversions readily available for the vehicle.

You can’t really judge the wheelchair van against other passenger vehicles. It serves a different purpose and the things that attract people to handicap minivans and SUVs don’t play a big role in their decision to buy a wheelchair van. If you compare the E-150, E-250 or E-350 against other standard passenger options, it doesn’t measure up. If you compare it to other wheelchair vans, it’s a strong product.

Notable Strengths

Tradition
Ford has been making the E-Series for years with little significant change. That’s an advantage to those who manage fleets or who need vehicles that will easily accept pre-established conversion schemes.

Reliability
The E-Series wheelchair vans are built Ford tough. They stand up well to wear and tear.

Size
These big box vans have enough space to handle a variety of jobs.

Notable Weaknesses

Overall drive quality
Anyone with an E-150, E-250 or E-350 will admit that the wheelchair vans offer a less than ideal driving experience–even relative to other full-sized options.

Price tag
Ford’s competitive with other full-sized vans, but the expensive E-Series vehicles are sure to push some people to look at an SUV or a minivan.

2005 E-Series Overview

There’s nothing new and exciting about the 2005 E-Series. It’s basically a re-do of the 2004 edition. That shouldn’t be surprising, though. These wheelchair vans are built with consistency in mind. Many buyers have particular plans for conversion and Ford knows better than to upset the apple cart any more than is absolutely necessary.

Trim Levels and Options

Ford has three different E-Series options. You can buy the E-150, E-250 or E-350 version. All are rear-wheel drive and are available in an XL and XLT trim level. The E-150 is also available in a Chateau trim package, designed more for those who plan to use the vehicle as a regular driver.

The E-150 seats eight passengers. The three-quarter ton E-250 and the E-350 can handle twelve. Ford also offers an E-350 Super Duty that will seat fifteen people.

The XL trim package is extremely basic. It’s a foundational trim level that offers nothing more than the basics. The XLT offers a few more creature comforts, but it still more Spartan than what one might expect. The Chateau package is similar to what you might find one step removed from a base level minivan.

Ford does offer a number of options, however. That means you can drive an E-Series wheelchair van with the features of your choice.

Style and Appearance

The E-Series has remained fairly consistent in design for over fifteen years. Ford continues to incrementally refine the van and to update its exterior enough that it doesn’t seem anachronistic, but the core design has remained consistent. It’s a large boxy van with a short front-end. If you’re worried about the way the van looks, you’re probably not part of its target audience.

The interior is as no-frills as the rest of the vehicle. Even in the Chateau trim, it remains plain, yet well-built. This is a functional vehicle and its designers have shown no interest in impressing buyers with aesthetics.

Engine

There are three different gasoline engines available for E-Series vans:

  • 4.6-liter V8, 225 horsepower
  • 5.4-liter V8, 255 horsepower
  • 6.8-liter V10, 305 horsepower

One can also find a 6.0-liter V8 turbo diesel option for the E-350.

The gasoline engines are all married to a sturdy four-speed automatic transmission. The Turbo-diesel is matched with a five-speed automatic.

Driving the 2005 E-Series Wheelchair Van

Ford’s E-Series wheekchair vans drive like large rear-wheel drive boxes. They don’t brake quickly. They don’t accelerate quickly. They don’t handle particularly well. Their wide and it can be difficult to assess what’s immediately behind or alongside you in traffic.

That’s exactly what one would expect from a full-sized wheelchair van, however. The limitations are inherent to the class and none are more pronounced in the E-150, E-250 or E-350 than they are in other large van options.

The 2005 E-Series Wheelchair Van

The E-Series, particularly in its E-150 form, is reasonably well-suited as a personal use wheelchair van. It has more than enough interior space to provide optimal accessibility and provides a great deal of conversion flexibility.

An E-Series wheelchair van can utilize either ramps or lifts in either a rear-entry or side-entry configuration. Sliding doors are available for the E-Series vans and the rear features a center-split cargo door arrangement.

The E-Series is amenable to all popular handicap van conversions including installation of custom seats and systems to secure wheelchairs. The interior is spacious enough to make use of even heavy duty lifts and one can install a variety of control and system modifications.

Most wheelchair van conversions will drop the vehicles floor and will use a lift–that’s one of the primary attractions to using a full-sized van as a mobility vehicle. An auto kneel may be installed and a conversion manufacturer can motorize the sliding door for improved access.

Safety

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 come standard with antilock brakes and front airbags. That’s the full extent of what one might term safety equipment. However, the vehicle still performs very well in collision testing (five stars from the NHTSA) due to its solid construction and size. It’s also rollover resistant.

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