Road Test : 2007 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Vans

road-test-2007FordE-SeriesWheelchair-van

The 2007 Ford E-Series Wheelchair Van

Most E-Series vans are destined for use in commercial settings. Some do become personal vehicles and some of those are wheelchair vans.

There is a significant downside to using a full-sized van as a mobility vehicle. Fuel economy isn’t impressive and the aforementioned handling issues are an issue, as well.

However, full-sized vans offer more space for access than do minivans and they’re capable of utilizing heavy-duty lifts in both rear- and side-entry configurations.

Most conversions involve lowering the floor of the vehicle, installing an auto kneel system and setting up the ramp or lift. Seating can be reconfigured as necessary and the E-Series is amenable to all other popular conversions.

Overall, converting a Ford van for wheelchair use provides a great deal of convenience in terms of access, but also brings with it a full slate of unique issues and limitations.

Not Very Different

Ford hasn’t significantly changed its full-sized E-Series vans for well over a decade. The exterior design hasn’t changed a great deal. The mechanics remain consistent year after year, as well.

That hasn’t hurt Ford so far. They continue to dominate the full-sized van market on the basis of reputation and durability. The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are solid, nearly indestructible working vans.

However, this may mark the last year that Ford is able to rest on its laurels. The Dodge Sprinter is offering many of the same benefits touted by the E-Series while providing a much better overall driving experience.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and Ford won’t lose its position in the marketplace that quickly, either.

The 2007 line of E-Series vans still provides a range of solid choices for those who need a heavy-duty work vehicle. However, one must wonder how long these vehicles will remain in the top spot.

Ford Handicap Van Model Lineup

E-Series vans come in three different trim levels.

XL: The XL is the base model. It’s a no-frills version of the van. Its features include:

  • Antilock brakes
  • AM/FM stereo
  • Tilt steering
  • Air conditioning

XLT: While the XL is up to the task for many commercial applications, the XLT creates a more well-rounded package. It adds:

  • Carpeting
  • Cruise control
  • Superior headlights
  • Improved sound system
  • Power doors
  • Power windows
  • Power locks

Chateau: Some buyers plan to use these full-sized vans as standard passenger vehicles. The Chateau package turns the E-150 into more attractive everyday driver. Exterior improvements include:

  • Two-tone paint job
  • Aluminum wheels
  • Running boards
  • Privacy glass

E-Series vans are available in special package options, as well. These are designed to make conversions easier for some special applications. There’s no option for wheelchair van conversion, though. Buyers will need to consult with a conversion manufacturer to create an ideal mobility vehicle.

Lack Of Style and Appearance

E-Series wheelchair vans are boxy, rectangular and, quite frankly, old and boring. While there’s a strong underlying logic supporting the decision to focus on utility over appearance, the lack of a significant update since the 1990s is beginning to show. When compared with the European styling of the Dodge Sprinter, for instance, the E-Series vans look positively retro.

The interior isn’t exciting, either. Again, the focus is squarely on function and that’s understandable. However, that doesn’t justify Ford’s continued use of old-fashioned dashboards and instrumentation. The seats aren’t particularly comfortable, either. These vans are well-built, but they aren’t exciting.

Ford does provide some interesting interior options, however. Buyers who have particular plans in mind for their vehicles may be interested in special bin storage systems, tool racks and other from-the-factor features.

Engine

The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are available with a range of different engine options. There are three gasoline burning Triton engines. Two of those are V8s and the third is an extremely powerful V10. All of those options come with a four-speed automatic transmission.

You can add a turbo-diesel V8 to the E-350. It provides 235 horsepower and an impressive 440 pound-feet of torque. The 32-valve engine is matched with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Driving the 2007 E-Series Wheelchair Van

For many years, it was easy to overlook the obvious performance shortcomings of the E-Series handicap vans. Competitors weren’t providing a better driving experience and there are inherent limitations associated with the class.

It’s getting harder to accept the E-Series’ lack of acceleration, slow braking and poor responsiveness, however. Technology has improved considerably over the last several years and Ford just hasn’t kept up with it. Its competitor, the Dodge Sprinter, is often compared to SUV in terms of drivability. The E-Series full-size mobility vans, however, still feel more like old trucks than anything else does.

Safety and Reliability

Ford offers the E-150, E-250 and E-350 with standard safety equipment including antilock brakes, stability control and a full complement of airbags. Other safety features, including front and rear parking sensors are also available. The E-Series continues to score well in collision testing and its sheer mass makes it even safer in crash scenarios.

The Bottom Line

If you’re considering a Ford E-150, E-250 or E-350 for use as a commercial vehicle, you can justify the purchase. Ford’s days in the sun may be approaching their end, however, and there are superior options available.

If you’re considering an E-Series van for your next mobility vehicle, you’ll want to weight the access advantages against the driving quality limitations, lack of fuel efficiency and overall expense. While it may be a good choice for some individuals, most will find it bigger than necessary and will be turned off by those problems.

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