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Our Favourite Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs)

A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) is a car or van adapted so that a driver or passenger can either remain in their wheelchair or transfer out of it easily for travel. The vehicle has a ramp or lift added to enable access and other adaptations may be made depending on the disabled person’s needs.

Options include a ramp at the rear of the vehicle to enable the person in the wheelchair to sit in the back, modifications to allow the passengers to sit up front next to the driver or enable the driver themselves to remain in their wheelchair.

Before choosing a WAV it’s important to remember that there is no overall ‘best’ as the ‘best’ for you comes down to your individual mobility needs and lifestyle. That said, here are a selection of our favourite Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles – from compact to larger models – which offer a range of adjustable attributes.

Volkswagen Caddy Life

This passenger-carrying minivan is based on the VW Caddy van which was voted Best Small Trades Van at the 2018 Business Van of the Year Awards. Being a Volkswagen, the Caddy Life brings badge appeal, build quality and comfort. As with all VWs, the model also offers decent residual values although it isn’t the cheapest option in terms of initial outlay.

The Caddy Life comes in two lengths – Standard and Maxi. The Maxi version comes with five seats plus room for the wheelchair passenger as well as two sliding doors and a large rear tailgate. A range of adaptations are available as well as manual and automatic transmission options.

WAVs are not always renowned for their looks – the need for practicality overriding aesthetic appeal but the Caddy Life owes its styling to the Golf and Polo hatchback cars and as such it is one of the most stylish on the market.

Click here to find out more about the VW Caddy Life.

Some WAVS allow passengers to travel in the rear
Some WAVS allow passengers to travel in the rear

Renault Master

The Renault Master comes in a variety of sizes and is one of the larger options out there. Suitable for those whose family or support will travel with them, the Renault Master is based on a panel van and so is competitively priced and cheaper than many of the large WAV options which may need expensive adaptations to create the space required.

The most common adaptation involves enabling a rear-entry system with a tail lift fitted. This makes it a fantastic option for those who wish to enter the vehicle independently or access it in their wheelchair. An electric lift can also be added which folds down out of the rear double doors.

There is lots of space and the larger versions can allow two, three or even four people to enter the vehicle and be accommodated comfortably. The Master is ideal for electric chairs which require more room. It’s also a good option for someone wishing to enter in their chair and transfer to the driver position as the wheelchair user can pass right through from the back into the front passenger or driver seats. The Master also has sliding doors on each side for additional access.

Peugeot Partner Tepee

The Peugeot Partner Tepee was once billed as the UK’s bestselling WAV. Though it’s now been replaced by the Rifter, the Tepee is widely available on the used market and so offers great value when picking up a second-hand model. It’s also worth noting that the Citroen Berlingo was produced as a joint venture and with both vehicles being nigh-on identical, this review can apply equally to both

A variant of the Partner small van, the Tepee is a conversion to a passenger vehicle and so offers plenty of space for disabled and able-bodied passengers. In its form as an MPV, the Partner Tepee has five seats as standard but that capacity reduces to four when reconfiguring the cabin space to allow a passenger to sit next to the wheelchair user in the rear.

Accessibility is good thanks to the top-hinged large tailgate which allows for ramp access which pulls out from the rear. Most adapted models come with an electric winch which is particularly useful for manually-operated wheelchairs.

Car Insurance for Adapted Vehicles
Car Insurance for Adapted Vehicles

Fiat Qubo

The Fiat Qubo is one of the most compact vehicles in our selection, but it can still sit up to three passengers with the wheelchair user in the rear. Sliding doors enable convenience and entry is gained via a lightweight ramp. A 1.3 diesel engine makes the Qubo an economical choice at a low tax rate, while the engine has enough ‘oomph’ to cater for everyday driving.

Ideal for general use, such as day-to-day commuting and shopping, the Qubo combines distinctive Italian styling with practicality and a surprisingly spacious interior for a smaller vehicle.

Click here to find out more about the Fiat Qubo.

Ford Tourneo Connect and Ford Tourneo Custom

The Ford Tourneo comes in two distinct models – the Connect MPV and the Custom which is roughly the same size as a Transit van.

The Connect is offered in two model sizes – Short and Grand. The Short accommodates a wheelchair or scooter user alongside three passengers while the Grand will accommodate an additional five passengers. Access is via the rear with a generous 1.4m tailgate and a lightweight ramp. As the Connect was designed as a passenger vehicle, it’s a very practical drive for everyday use.

Click here to find out more about the Ford Tourneo Connect.

The Ford Tourneo Custom is the big brother of the Connect. Ideal for larger families or groups and the vehicle can be modified with a variety of seating layouts. The vehicle has space for five people including the driver, an extra seat can be added to the front row and the second row enables two passenger seats either side of the wheelchair space which enables, for example, siblings to sit together.

Twin sliding doors enable easy access to the second row and a manual ramp allows access from the rear. Offering Ford’s renowned great value, the Tourneo Custom is cheaper than most of its near-rivals.

Click here to find out more about the Ford Tourneo Custom.

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