Anthony Dixon

Essential Interior Features in Dodge Caravan Wheelchair Vans

Written by Anthony Dixon. Filed in Disability Access Features

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The Grand Caravan has been one of the most popular wheelchair van options for nearly 25 years. The interior handicap driving features used in Grand Caravan’s are a key element of that ongoing popularity.

Entering the Grand Caravan

A wheelchair van is only as good as its accessibility. It needs to be safe, convenient and easy for the wheelchair user to get in and out of the vehicle. That’s one area in with the Grand Caravan does extremely well.

Automatic Powered Doors
Automatic powered doors and remote entry make it simple to open and close the vehicle’s doors. The wheelchair user avoids the need to struggle with heavy doors or inconveniently placed handles. Opening and closing the doors is as easy as clicking a button on a keychain remote.

Automatic powered doors

Automatic powered doors with remote make life easier for the disabled driver

Access Entry Space
Another key consideration regarding wheelchair van accessibility is space. The Grand Caravan supplies more than enough cabin floor space and impressive vertical space, as well.

While it compares favorably with other minivans, the Grand Caravan does require a few modifications to provide optimal clearance at the point of entry and sufficient headroom for the wheelchair user within the vehicle.

Automatic powered doors with remote

Lowered floor gives plenty of room to move in a Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

That’s usually accomplished by lowering the floor of the Grand Caravan. One can choose a half-drop or full-drop floor modification. The adjustment will increase overall clearance by as much as ten full inches.

Many wheelchair vans are modified by raising the roof and/or the doors of the vehicle. That’s unnecessary when one is working with a Dodge Grand Caravan. It’s possible to create the necessary space without taking those actions.

Seating Options and Adjustments

Providing the best access and maximum usability often requires moving or rearranging the center passenger seating within a minivan. The Dodge Caravan’s Stow ‘n’ Go configuration makes that very easy. In the Dodge, all of the passenger seats can easily fold into the vans floor for storage. When they’re in use, the storage space can be used for cargo.

Dodge Caravan wheelchair van with all seats removed

Dodge Caravan wheelchair van with all seats removed

That may provide enough flexibility for many drivers. Others may want to consider removing one of the passenger captain’s seats or taking some other action to clear an optimal path to the driver’s area. The Grand Caravan is up to the challenge. Its flexible seating is easy to adjust and, when necessary, to remove.

Dodge Caravan driver and front passenger seats removed

Dodge Caravan driver and front passenger seats removed

If a wheelchair user plans to drive the vehicle from his or her wheelchair the driver’s seat will need to be removed. In many cases, the front passenger seat is removed to allow a wheelchair user the opportunity to be a front seat passenger.

Dodge Caravan with front passenger in wheelchair

Other wheelchair drivers will want to move from their wheelchairs into the drives seat. Power seat bases, transfer seats and swivel seats can all be useful in making that process comfortable and convenient.

Power seat bases

Power Seat Bases

Securing the Wheelchair

After a wheelchair enters the Grand Caravan, there are a number of ways to safely secure it.

One can use manual tie downs. That’s the “traditional” approach and it still has many adherents. The tie downs work well and are quite inexpensive. Those looking to make the process a little less labor-intensive may invest in electric, motorized tie downs.

Manual Tie Downs in a Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

Manual tie downs in a Dodge Caravan wheelchair van

Four point tie downs with seatbelts are a good choice for the safety conscious. The secure the wheelchair in place while providing the person seated within it the security of a standard seat belt.

Dodge Caravan wheelchair van with 4-point tie downs for wheelchairs

4-point tie downs for wheelchairs

Many Grand Caravan owners install EZ Lock wheelchair anchoring systems. These docking units are more expensive than other systems, but they’re extremely strong and offer incomparable convenience.

EZ Lock wheelchair anchoring systems

EZ Lock wheelchair anchoring systems

Driving the Dodge Grand Caravan Wheelchair Van

Getting into the Grand Caravan and securing the wheelchair are just precursors to the actual driving experience.

In many cases, disabled drivers will need some special modifications before they can safely head out on the roads. Alternative hand control steering systems are one example.

2003 Dodge Caravan with full equipped handicap driving and steering aids

2003 Dodge Caravan with full equipped handicap driving and steering aids

The use of hand controls in place of traditional foot pedals are another. The Dodge Grand Caravan is receptive to virtually any modification necessary to empower the wheelchair bound driver.

Handicap steering aids allow disabled drivers the freedom to be in the drivers seat again

Handicap steering aids allow disabled drivers the freedom to be in the drivers seat again

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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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