Road Test : 2005 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Vans


It’s back again! Ford continues to dominate the full-sized wheelchair van market with a vehicle that has remained almost unchanged for over a decade.

The new E-150, E-250 and E-350 vans are the same plain boxes you’ve seen on the road for years.

Usually, that would be a negative. After all, most of us are always looking for something new and improved. However, in this case, Ford is doing things the right way. They know what their buyers want and they’re supplying it.

Wheelchair Van Model Lineup

You can get a 2005 E-Series handicap van in an E-150, E-250, E-350 or E-350 Super Duty configuration. The E-150 is an eight passenger van. The E-350 will handle twelve and the E-350 Super Duty can move up to fifteen passengers around comfortably.

All of the E-Series wheelchair vans are available in XL and XLT trim levels. The E-150 is also available in a Chateau trim, targeting people who plan to use the vans as personal vehicles. The XL is a very bare bones arrangement. If you’re looking for anything more than air conditioning and a vinyl interior, you’ll need to upgrade. The XLT is slightly nicer, offering some improvements. Even the Chateau stops well short of luxury.

Ford allows for a great deal of customization via the addition of multiple a la carte options.

Ford’s Plain Styling

The 2005 E-Series handicap van is plain, familiar, unexciting and maybe even slightly unattractive. It’s a big box on wheels with a short front end. The van barely avoids seeming hopelessly outdated due to the slight aesthetic adjustments Ford makes every so often.

The interior is a plain Jane experience, too. If you’re in the market for frills or creature comforts, you’re probably not in the market for a full-sized wheelchair van. Ford knows that and doesn’t bother chasing after the folks who make buying decisions based on pretty details.

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are a rolling testament to functionality. The design won’t win any beauty contests. It works, though. And that’s what matters to buyers.


The E-Series vans are rear-wheel drive vehicles. All of the gas engine options are matched with a hard-as-nails four-speed automatic transmission. There’s a turbo-diesel option available for the E-350 that comes with a five-speed automatic. The engine options include a 4.6-liter V8 offering 225 horsepower, a 5.4-liter V8 that delivers 255 horsepower and a massive 6.8-liter V10, capable of generating 305 horsepower.

Driving the 2005 E-Series

The 2005 Ford E-Series drives like a big wheelchair van. It’s that simple. It doesn’t accelerate well (although the engines are sufficiently powerful). It doesn’t turn on a dime (the steering is slightly loose and not particularly responsive). It’s sheer mass makes quick braking tough.

That’s not a criticism of the van, however. It’s a fact. There are very few full-sized vans on the market–from any manufacturer–that can perform any better the Ford just runs up against the inherent barriers of the class. Relative to other full-sized options, it actually provides a pretty nice driving experience.

Safety and Reliability

You’ll feel secure in an E-150, E-250 or E-350. After all, you’ll be wrapped up in a heavy-duty steel vehicle that outweighs almost everything you find on the road. It also has front airbags and antilock brakes. The NHTSA gave it top marks for crash testing and the vans aren’t prone to rollover.

There’s a reason why it seems like every full-sized van on out there has a Ford logo on it. The E-Series is a reliable vehicle. The vans are well-built and the components are tough, capable of withstanding the tough treatment a vehicle can see on the job.

The 2005 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Van

Most of the E-Series vans customized for wheelchair use are used by health or care facilities. However, some are transformed for personal use. In most cases, E-150 versions are used in this capacity.

The vans make good conversions for those who’d prefer to use heavy-duty lifts over ramps, like most minivans. They’re big enough to handle rear-entry or side-entry lifts.

The E-Series vans are amenable to all major conversions. Floor drops are common, as is the installation of auto kneel systems. Hand controls and other driving modifications are easy work for most conversion manufacturers.

The E-150 can be a large, highly accessible wheelchair van with plenty of space. However, one must be prepared to accept the driving quality and cost trade-offs associated with a larger vehicle.

The Bottom Line

If you want to a Ford full-sized handicapped van, you probably want an E-Series. These no-frills vehicles do a wonderful job of providing their buyers with what they want the most–space and reliability. They’re big, they’re sturdy and they get the job done.

You don’t dominate a market for over a decade with luck. Ford keeps winning the full-sized handicap van war because they’re doing it the right way. They’re more interested in providing the steak and don’t bother trying to peddle the sizzle.

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