Toyota Sienna. Click image to enlarge
By Brad Miller
Editor’s note: author Brad Miller is a 35-year old freelance journalist living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, a condition which limits his ability to walk and gets progressively worse over time. He writes a personal blog, My Becker’s Story, to help raise awareness of muscular dystrophy. Over the past few months, Brad has been test driving many new vehicles to determine which are best suited for people with disabilities. These are his personal choices.
2011 Toyota Sienna
The 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan is a vehicle that should definitely be at or near the top of the list for those with disabilities – it is a vehicle that is capable of handling a wide variety of needs. To me, it looks like Toyota took the time to think about people with disabilities – they have created is a vehicle that is fully customizable and can easily be made accessible for anyone who requires the use of a wheelchair or a mobility scooter. Toyota even provides the option of having a Power Mobility Seat installed to help make it easier to get in and out.
Toyota Sienna. Click image to enlarge
The Sienna offers many standard features and options that people with disabilities would find very beneficial, such as power sliding side doors with a large door opening, a low step-in height, steering wheel mounted controls, and a back-up camera with a 180-degree panoramic view that makes it easier when reversing this large minivan.
On the road, I was very impressed by the feel of the Sienna’s standard electric power steering which can only be described as extremely smooth. Some will feel a bit of a disconnect from the road but anyone who suffers with upper arm issues will really enjoy driving the Sienna.
Another great feature is Toyota’s subscription-based Safety Connect service which provides customers with Roadside Assistance, Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location and best of all Emergency Assistance available by the push of a Button – a great service for anyone living with a disability.
2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
My first impression of the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan was that Dodge did a great job of creating a vehicle that can accommodate the needs of many different groups of people, including those with disabilities.
Dodge Grand Caravan. Click image to enlarge
What impressed me the most about the interior was its standard Stow ‘N Go seating which allows drivers to simply fold the rear seats directly into the floor. If you choose to, you can order third-row power seats that fold into the floor with a press of a button. The Stow ‘N Go feature is very beneficial to those living with disabilities since it allows them to move seats without having to lift them out of the vehicle. And with the rear seats folded down into the floor there is plenty of room to place a walker or even a small sized collapsible mobility scooter.
Another feature I liked is its step-in height which is low enough that people with disabilities should have no problem accessing the rear seats. Like most other minivans, the Grand Caravan gives buyers the option of adding power side sliding doors and even a power liftgate.
The cabin offers buyers plenty of storage space and you also have the option of upgrading to their premium “Super Console” which provides even more storage space along with cup holders and power outlets.
Behind the wheel, I really enjoyed the simple layout of the controls along with the very useful steering wheel-mounted controls. The interior is quite impressive and the seating position helped to give me a commanding view of the road. For backing up, the Grand Caravan can be ordered with the optional Back-up Camera.
During my time spent with the 2011 Dodge Caravan I was happy with its performance and it handled well for such a large vehicle.