Anthony Dixon

Exterior Handicap Driving Features : Dodge Grand Caravan Wheelchair Vans

Written by Anthony Dixon. Filed in Disability Access Features

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Dodge Grand Caravans are one of the most popular wheelchair vans on the market.

The Dodge Grand Caravan wheelchair van is a direct descendant of the world’s very first minivan, the Dodge Caravan. This extended wheelbase offering remains popular with mainstream minivan buyers and has gained a strong reputation as a top wheelchair conversion van option, as well. Let’s look at some of the exterior handicap driving features on the Grand Caravan that help to make it such a popular wheelchair van.

Access-Related Exterior Features

The Grand Caravan is a roomy minivan and that interior space is one reason why it makes a good conversion choice. However, as with all minivans, a few extra modifications are needed to provide the kind of space wheelchair users’ demand.

There’s no need to raise the roof of the Grand Caravan to gain sufficient clearance and headroom for wheelchair van use. That’s because it’s easier to drop the floor. A lowered floor will provide enough extra space to meet requirements.

Full drop lowered floor on a Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

Full drop lowered floor on a Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

Auto Kneel System Reduces Wheelchair Entry Slope

It’s also important to do everything possible to make the path into the minivan as safe and easy as possible. One way of doing that involves reducing the slope of the wheelchair ramp. Grand Caravan conversions often feature an auto kneel system that lowers the vehicle to make the trip in and out of the vehicle far less steep.

auto kneel system on Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

Dodge Caravan wheelchair van with auto kneel system activated

Automatic Doors With Remote Entry

Accessing a Dodge wheelchair van requires more than a large enough space to handle a wheelchair ramp. Before that becomes a factor, it’s important that the wheelchair van user can open and close the vehicle’s doors easily. Manual doors can be problematic for some people and the use of automatic sliding doors (which come standard on the majority of Grand Caravans sold) provide a pushbutton solution to the problem.

Easy automatic door opening with Dodge Caravan remote

Remote control automatic door opening with Dodge wheelchair vans

The Grand Caravan also supports a power liftgate option. This is critical for those who plan to configure their conversion for rear entry.

Lifts and Ramps

There’s enough space inside the Dodge Caravan wheelchair minivan. The power doors are easy to open and close. Now it’s time to start thinking about the best way to actually enter and exit the vehicle from a scooter or wheelchair. There are two primary options: Lifts and ramps.

Wheelchair Lifts
Lifts are motorized platforms that will elevate a wheelchair, scooter or power chair to the desired height for easy entry. The Grand Caravan can’t handle a lift (due to their size) on the side of the vehicle. However, it is possible to use an external lift as part of a rear-entry configuration.

Dodge Caravan with rear wheelchair lift

Dodge Caravan with rear wheelchair lift

Ramp Entry
Most people opt for a side-entry ramp, however. There are a few reasons for this this. First, the ramps work exceedingly well–especially combined with some of the other modifications we’ve mentioned. Second, ramps are less expensive than lifts. Third, side entry arrangements provide easier access to the driving area.

There are many different ramp types available, but most Grand Caravan wheelchair van buyers invest in an automatic foldout options. These motorized versions extend and retract with the push of a button and hide away neatly under the vehicle when not in use.

Automatic ramp in closed position

Automatic ramp in operation

Automatic ramp in operation

Driving Enhancements

In many cases, disabled drivers will require modifications to vehicle equipment and controls. Steering and braking are perfect examples. There are many wheelchair users who can’t manage a standard steering system who are able to navigate their Grand Caravan successfully when the vehicle is equipped with a low-effort steering system. This modification amplifies the effect of the power steering system, making steering less labor intensive.

Other drivers may have a difficult time depressing the pedal of the stock braking system. That’s why reduced braking systems are a nice option. They reduce the amount of pressure that must be applied to the pedal in order to engage the Grand Caravan’s antilock brakes.

These and other exterior modifications work to make the Grand Caravan one of the most popular wheelchair vans on the market.

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About Anthony Dixon

Anthony Dixon

Anthony is a true disability vehicle enthusiast when he is not working tirelessly in a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, TX where he provides advice and training for the many concerned parents and caregivers. Anthony is the first step in finding the right rehabilitation advice for you or your loved one.

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