Expert Review: 2007 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Vans

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The 2007 E-Series will undoubtedly continue Ford’s domination of the full-sized wheelchair van marketplace. Continuing its 26-year tradition, the automaker is rolling out a virtually unchanged version of its heavy-duty commerical wheelchair van for the new model year.

The E-Series is fascinating in that sense. While other manufacturers find it necessary to re-imagine their vehicles, consistently creating new generations of popular models, Ford has found that the one thing E-Series buyers seem to want the most is consistency.

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are primarily used for commercial purposes. They’re popular fleet vehicles and are far more likely to find themselves parked at a place of business than in an individual’s driveway. Their buyers return to Ford year after year for more vehicles and don’t want to deal with the hassles that may be associated with retooling and converting them in a different manner. They want a van just like the last one and that’s what Ford provides.

That’s not to say that Ford is sitting on its hands, however. They’ve gradually updated and improved the E-Series every year to keep it up to date.

Notable Strengths

In addition to its predictability and consistency, the E-Series offers great durability and reliability. It’s a hardworking handicap van that can withstand the punishment of a tough working life.

Notable Weaknesses

The E-Series may be falling behind competitors like the Dodge Sprinter in terms of drive quality. Though still competitive, the E-Series is more expensive than many other options in its class.

2007 Ford E-Series Overview

The 2007 E-Series wheelchair vans aren’t notably different from the 2006 editions. Ford has made some improvements, but only those willing to poke around under the hood or to read the mechanical specifications are likely to notice them. Ford has added electronic throttle control to its E-Series. Engine oil coolers are now standard equipment, as well.

Ford has also rolled out new options, including a tougher alternator and rear parking sensors.

Trim Levels and Options

Ford is once again selling the E-Series in three different trim packages.

The XL is the entry-level arrangement. It’s a bare-bones model that offers only the basics. It comes with anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, front bucket seats, tilt steering and an AM/FM stereo.

The XLT significantly improves the vehicle. It provides the wheelchair an with carpeting, chrome bumpers, an upgraded sound system, cloth seats, power accessories, upgraded headlights and cruise control.

The Chateau trim package upgrades the E-150 for use as a passenger van. It adds interior upgrades to the mix along with an assortment of exterior improvements. Those include aluminum wheels, privacy glass, running boards and style two-tone paint options.

Ford sells E-Series vans with special packages designed to assist buyers in the conversion of their vehicles to particular uses. For instance, there are ambulance and shuttle prep packages that feature the elements necessary for those conversions.

Wheelchair van buyers won’t have a package option, however. They’ll need to rely on a quality conversion manufacturer and disability equipment dealer to turn their E-Series van into a full-featured mobility vehicle.

Style and Appearance

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are standard, traditional work vans. As noted, that simplicity and functionality is one of the reasons for its tremendous success. It’s a standard rectangular box with a somewhat short, truck-like front end.

The interior echoes that same commitment to pragmatism. It’s devoid of excess ornamentation. However, one shouldn’t confuse its simplicity with a lack of quality. The interior is as solid and durable as the van itself.

Ford offers a variety of special interior arrangement options, as well. These include special tool racks, bin systems and other configurations designed to help the van do its intended job.

Powertrain

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are available with four different powertrain options. Three of them are gas-burning Triton engines. Two are V8s, the other is a powerhouse V10. These are matched with a solid four-speed automatic transmission. The E-350 is available with a turbo-diesel engine and a five-speed transmission. The 32-valve diesel provides a startling 440 pound-feet of torque and 235 horsepower.

Driving the 2007 E-Series Handicap Van

The 2007 Ford E-Series handicap vans are reliable and can withstand a great deal of punishment. That utilitarian focus trades off with ride quality, however. The E-150, E-250 and E-350 aren’t particularly smooth vehicles. They tend to bounce like trucks. Steering responsiveness is somewhat lacking, as well.

For many years, it was easy to overlook those shortcomings because the Ford was still providing a driving experience on par with other vans in its class. The Dodge Sprinter, with its Mercedes-Benz heritage, is now providing a much better overall drive. Ford will need to make some improvements to retain its share of the market.

The 2007 E-Series Wheelchair Van

E-Series vans can be converted for use as wheelchair vans. In most cases, individuals opt to work with the smallest version of the vehicle, the E-150.

The E-150 can handle ramps or lifts for side or rear wheelchair entry. The large interior allows for maximum accessibility.

The conversion process usually involves lowering the floor to improve interior clearance, though some wheelchair users may find that unnecessary. An auto kneel system is also a common element in conversions. The van’s seating can be reconfigured as necessary.

In most cases, buyers will outfit the E-Series with a lift. The fact that the van boasts enough space for a full-sized lift is one of the most attractive aspects of its potential as a wheelchair van.

Safety

The Ford E-150, E-250 and E-350 come standard with antilock brakes, stability control systems and a full complement of airbags. Once again, the E-Series received high rankings in crash and rollover testing. These heavy-duty vans provide all occupants with a sense of security and safety.

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