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Rear Entry vs Side Entry: Pros and Cons

Transportation remains a considerable challenge for people with mobility issues. Luckily vehicle manufacturers are working hard to produce mobility-friendly vehicles. People with mobility issues now have numerous choices when it comes to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

One of the crucial choices you’ll have to make is deciding between a rear entry and a side entry wheelchair vehicle. Each conversion has unique features, benefits, and downsides. It all depends on your different needs and preferences. Let’s explore the pros and cons of rear entry vs. side entry wheelchair vans and vehicles.

Rear Entry Vehicles

Rear entry wheelchair vans offer a lowered center area inside that easily holds the wheelchair and a foldout ramp. Although a standard design, manufacturers still utilize creativity, innovation, and technology to enhance user experience. Rear entry vans are ideal if the wheelchair user is to always be the passenger, not the driver.

Advantages of Rear Entry Vehicles

  • Easier parking: Finding an ideal parking spot or space for a wheelchair vehicle can be challenging at times. However, you have the flexibility of parking in any accessible spot with rear entry vans because the ramp is in the back of the car, which doesn’t require extra space on the side for entry and exit.
  • Best for caregivers and wheelchair passengers: Rear entry wheelchair vans are ideal for individuals who prefer riding as passengers or for caregivers who offer transport to wheelchair users. In addition, you don’t need to secure the front seats as they are designed to stay in place.
  • Cost-effective: Rear-entry wheelchair vans require fewer modifications than side-entry wheelchair vehicles, making them a cost-effective option.
  • More position and seating options: Unlike side entry, the rear entry conversion offers several seating and position options for wheelchairs, including stationary bucket seats, flip and fold seats, and mid and rear van wheelchair position.

Disadvantages of Rear Entry Vehicles

  • The wheelchair user can’t drive: In rear-entry vans, the wheelchair user can only be a passenger, not the driver. Also, there is not an option for the individual to be secured in the front seat/passenger position.
  • No power option: No power option means that someone must manually close the ramp. This is usually more of an issue in vehicles that the wheelchair users are driving themselves, but could be difficult for some caregivers.

Side Entry vehicles

Designed for space and comfort, side entry wheelchair vehicles are ideal for wheelchair user drivers and passengers.

Advantages of Side Entry Vehicles

  • Variety of seating options: Most side entry wheelchair vehicles feature removable front and passenger seats, creating space for more seating options and extra wheelchairs.
  • Best for drivers and passengers: Side entry vehicles have an accessible driver position and a front passenger position. This allows a wheelchair user to drive the vehicle or occupy the front seat.
  • Cargo room: While the ramp or lift obstructs the cargo room in a rear entry conversion, the cargo room in the side entry vehicle is free from obstructions. As a result, you’ll have space in your trunk to store other items.

Disadvantages of Side Entry Vehicles

  • Difficult parking: It can be a challenge to park a side entry vehicle, even in an accessible spot, because you need more space to deploy the ramp on the side. The limited space in public parking spots can make accessing a side entry vehicle difficult.
  • More expensive: Side entry vehicles require significant modification, including lowering the floor, which makes it an expensive option.

Looking for your ideal accessible vehicle?

A good accessible vehicle makes transport easier and effortless for people with mobility issues. Deciding between side entry and rear entry conversions are both excellent options, but choosing the right one will depend on your unique needs and preferences.

For everything regarding wheelchair-accessible vehicles, Southern Bus and Mobility is your go-to place. We can help you decide between a side and rear entry van depending on your needs, preferences, and budget and find the right vehicle for you. What’s more, Southern Bus and Mobility is an NMEDA QAP certified leader.

Want to discuss your next wheelchair-accessible vehicle? Stop by any of our locations to speak to a team member.