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BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT


 

Test Drive – BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT Wheelchair Van

By Paul Erway, Superior Van & Mobility

BraunAbility 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Van

Conversion: BraunAbility Power XT Fold-Out with carpet

Added Options:  B&D 6 way driver seat base, and SureGrip Feather Light push-rock hand-controls

I recently had the honor of driving one of the first BraunAbility Pacifica’s that came off the line. I drove it on vacation and was really blown away at all the new features this vehicle brings to the wheelchair van market. I now drive this vehicle daily for work and personal business, and wanted to share some of the awesome new features and benefits that people may not be aware of.

First, the exterior redesign of the Pacifica incorporates smoother lines much like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey vans. This is very different from the boxy look of the Dodge vans.

Second, the user-friendly remote control will open any door without hitting any of the buttons on the key fob as long as it is with me. Even the back hatch door is designed so that when you grab the handle, the rear power door engages and opens for you without lifting it as you had to do in the past.

BraunAbility Pacifica handicap van rampTo engage the sliding side ramp door, and deploy the ramp and engage the kneeling cycle, you simply press the key fob two times. Once the ramp is deployed, the kneeling system continues to pull down towards the ground to make the incline as low as possible. I tend to be a little impatient at times and ready to wheel up the ramp as soon as possible, but I was assured by BraunAbility that as long as the ramp is fully deployed, there should not be any issues that affect the full kneeling process, and it is recommended and best to wait so that the incline is as small as possible. Another huge feature of the ramp in the BraunAbility Pacifica is that the weight capacity of the ramp is now 1,000 pounds. Further, if you get the In-Floor Ramp conversion model, the ramp width is 32” wide! For some folks that thought a full size van was their only option, you may want to visit a Superior showroom to see if the new Pacifica will work for you! This is a big difference compared to previous models!

Once inside, you immediately notice the larger interior space. The rear bench seems to be forward a slight bit, but you have ample room for your back chair tires and a large turning radius. The interior changes also allow for a little more back storage space. For me, I often carry my racing wheelchair with me, and it definitely fits in a little easier. The other nice thing about the rear bench is the comfort of the seat. In the past, the seats were square shaped so that they could fold into the floor for Stow-N-Go seating. They are now more ergonomically correct, and have a flip down foot rest, which provides a much more comfortable ride for passengers.

The front seat has also been improved. They feel better, and you can now adjust the angle of the headrest. This was a help to me on the long spans of driving during vacation. I sometimes like to recline the seat back a little more than usual, and can now move the head rest forward to still give me a clear view of the road. Finally, if you need to remove either of the front Pacifica seats in order to remain in your wheelchair as a passenger or driver, the seat base has also been redesigned for easier pop-out/pop-in use.

Here are some other small features that make this vehicle very user friendly. You can start the vehicle with a simple touch of a button as long as you have the key fob inside the vehicle, and the brake is engaged. With key fob placed in my bag and under my chair, I just apply the brake and press the start button. The gear shift is now just a turn dial as well. Once you have the brake engaged, anyone with limited function of the hand or arthritis will find this to be a blessing.

Most of the dash controls are touch screen, allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road. When in park, the touch screen acts very much like a computer and can be a handy tool to have when in a new city. Touch features are also available through the steering wheel. For example, if the dash light comes on to indicate a low tire, I can use my left hand to touch a button on the steering wheel and it shows exactly how much pressure is in each tire.

The cruise control on the steering wheel has also been improved. When setting the speed, there is a read out on the dash that tells you what the set speed is, and it holds that speed even when going up and down hills.

The electronic improvements overall seem to help get better gas mileage as well. For example, on the previous models of vans that I have driven, MPG hovers around 20 to 21 for my style of driving. The window sticker of this model of Pacifica reads 18 MPG for city and 28 MPG for highway. While on vacation, I actually had an average of 28.2 MPG, and upon returning, I am averaging around 24 MPG (with air conditioning on)! Finally, the system will automatically shut down when you come to an extended stop, like a red light. When you let off the brake and apply the gas, it automatically restarts the vehicle and off you go, thus saving on gas even more. So, even though purchasing a newer vehicle is a larger investment at first, you are going to save in the long run on gas costs alone, while enjoying a more pleasurable ride.

Speaking of gas, at the gas pumps you will notice that the fill hose has a small ring on the nozzle. The gas lid of the Pacifica is press-to-open, and I immediately noticed that there is NOT a gas cap. The hose nozzle fits right in, and is designed so that the ring on the hose clips in place, eliminating the chance of it slipping out and pouring gas everywhere. This also prevents evaporating fumes coming out as the tank fills.

Overall, the Pacifica was impressive enough to make a regular driver of wheelchair vans write a blog and share this story with everyone! Other things that caught my attention were the nice looking tires, the built-in vacuum cleaner, the parking sensors that allow for hands-free parallel parking and the Forward Collision Warning that can be programmed to warn you of any potential collisions. Should you have small children you may want to have the Surround View Camera System upgrade as well. You are able to see right up next to the vehicle, and all around it, to be clear of any toys or children that may be in harm’s way before you start to drive.

The reason vehicle manufacturers keep making vehicle model changes is to improve the vehicles safety, and convenience offerings, in an effort to provide a higher quality of life for people. The conversion companies have the same goal, and it really shows with the new BraunAbility Conversion.

Handicap Van Options Make Transit Easy

Handicap Van Options Make Transit Easy

What Can These Options Do For You?
New or used handicap vans are the main means of transportation for people with disabilities. They can compensate for most disabilities while providing comfort with the available options. Depending on your disability, you can choose which options would best fit your needs.

Here’s a list of customized options. These options will make commuting easier and more comfortable for you and your family.

The Options
The main options for additional handicap van equipment include; Bruno Valet, portable ramps, hand controls, driving aids, lifts, jump seats, wheelchair tie-downs, transfer seats and platform carriers. Here’s a description of each:
• Driving Aids: Driving aids include pedal extensions, wheelchair pulleys and sensors to help drivers maneuver safely.
• Bruno Valets: A Bruno Valet allows someone with limited mobility to get in and out of their vehicle with very little effort and strain.
• Lifts and Platform Carriers: Lifts and platform carriers are probably one of the most useful options for a handicap vans and other accessible vehicles. Lifts and platform carriers for a van can be mounted internally or externally to your vehicle. They can lift a person in a wheelchair in and out of the car or store a mobile scooter during a commute.
• Portable Ramps: A portable ramp is a less expensive option to a lift or carrier. A ramp is portable and can be taken anywhere where there is no accessible ramp for a wheelchair.
• Wheelchair Tie Downs: wheelchair tie-downs can be installed into the floor of a handicap van to secure wheelchairs during transit.
• Hand Controls: In the instance of someone who has limited or no use of their legs, that person can have hand controls installed into their steering column so they can operate their vehicle.
• Jump Seats: Jump seats can be installed into your handicap van to accommodate non-disabled passengers. They can fold down to create more room or fold out to transport more passengers.
• Transfer Seats: A transfer seat works just like a lift and platform carrier. It can lift a wheelchair into a handicap van.
Understanding all of these options will make customizing your handicap van an easier process.

Reclaim Your Independence with a Wheelchair Van

Many people with disabilities are discovering the multiple benefits of owning a handicap accessible van. First and foremost, a wheelchair van offers disabled individuals a much stronger sense of freedom. Getting into and out of a vehicle can be a considerable challenge for people with limited mobility. A van that is equipped with a wheelchair lift or ramp system simplifies this process so that entering and exiting a vehicle can be done safely and with a greater sense of ease.

Without the proper mobility equipment installed, traveling is not nearly as safe for disabled people. With equipment such as wheelchair locking devices, driving aids, transfer seats and other features, you can rest assured that getting from point A to point B will be much safer for everyone in the wheelchair accessible van.

Disabled individuals who travel to work, school, meet with friends, or to simply run daily errands will benefit from driving aids, such as hand controls and pedal extensions. Leaving your home at your leisure is a convenience that everyone should have. A properly-equipped wheelchair van allows people with physical handicaps to operate the vehicle safely and in comfort. Today’s lift and ramp systems can be controlled with a push of a button allowing disabled drivers to enter or exit the vehicle without outside assistance.

Disabled passengers will also find that their independence is restored when they no longer have to depend on others to get into or out of a vehicle. After maneuvering their wheelchair or scooter up a ramp or onto a lift platform, they can then enter or exit the vehicle by pushing the appropriate button. The ease in which modern lift and ramp systems can be operated allows most people with disabilities to reduce their dependence on others, which is another significant step in the direction toward freedom and independence.

Are Used Handicap Vans Right for Me?

Are you looking for ways to improve your mobility and quality of life? If so, then handicap vans can provide exactly what you’re looking for. These vans offer those with physical disabilities the chance to regain their freedom and travel without restrictions. You’ll find both new and used wheelchair vans on the market today, but if your financial situation is tight (and whose isn’t?), then you might be wondering if used vans are a good option for you.

Used Vans Offer State of the Art Equipment

One of the first things that you’ll find is that used handicap accessible vans can certainly offer you all the mobility equipment that you need. Whether you want a ramp or wheelchair lift, hand controls, transfer seats, wheelchair locking systems or something else, you’ll find used vans with this equipment. If it’s not already installed, you can have it installed before you purchase the van.

Used Handicap Vans Are More Affordable

Another thing that you’ll discover is that used wheelchair vans are more affordable than their new counterparts are. Of course, buying used is almost always cheaper than buying new. However, the most significant thing about this price difference for you is that you might be able to afford to add more mobility equipment to the van and still come off cheaper than if you bought a new van.

Financing Is Available

Finally, you will find that used handicap vans can be purchased with the same financing plans as new vans. The trick is to work with a dealership that specializes in helping those with physical disabilities find the right mobility options for their situation. When you work with Superior Van and Mobility, you’ll find exactly that – we give you the information, help and vehicle selection that you need.

Your Guide to Shopping for Handicap Vans

Shopping for handicap vans can be just as exciting as it is to shop for any vehicle. You will have so many options to choose from and soon, you will finally have the freedom of mobility that you have always wanted. When you purchase your new van, you will be able to go where you want without having to ask for a ride, and you will not have to wait on anyone to come pick you up. Instead, you will be completely independent. When you start shopping for handicap vans at Superior Van & Mobility LLC, you may need a little guidance. Here are the steps you need to take to buy the right vehicle. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to consider new or used handicap vans? Of course, used options will be more cost effective and just as safe. However, a new vehicle will allow you to customize it exactly the way you want, and there is some satisfaction in knowing you are putting the first miles on your new van. You will need to decide this based on your budget since a used option will be more cost effective.

Do you want a minivan or would you prefer full sized handicap vans? This will depend on how much mobility equipment you need to transport since full sized vans are larger and more luxurious. A minivan, however, is easy to drive and will save you money on fuel.

Do you need certain mobility accessories? There are different options you could choose like ramps and wheelchair lifts or hand controls. Choose the handicap vans that can include the accessories that you need.

With these questions answered, you will find that you can easily narrow down your options for handicap vans to just the right one that you need for your own mobility and freedom.

Superior Van and Mobility and Safety, Proud of Our Policy

On of the most common calls we receive at Superior Van and Mobility is about buying or installing a hand control system in someone’s vehicle. Hand controls allow a person with good upper body strength to drive almost any vehicle on the road today while controlling the gas and brake with a hand system. In many states, the actual law does not mandate that a person pass a state driving test to legally drive with hand controls, however, it is a business decision by our own company that requires new drivers or new customers to Superior to take such a test. Why you may ask? Wouldn’t we sell more hand controls if this policy was not in place? The answer is, safety is more important to Superior than profits. What matters to Superior Van and Mobility is the safety of the driver, the safety of those around him or her, and the piece of mind as a company that we have explained the dangers of driving with hand controls to folks. Most people believe that it is very simple to learn to control a moving vehicle with their hands instead of their feet. Sadly, we see too many stories in the news about people being injured or killed because they could not stop quickly enough, or accelerated too fast with new hand control equipment. We take our role in the installation of these products VERY seriously. Further, having certified technicians install this equipment is equally as important to us. Poorly installed equipment is just as dangerous as an inexperienced driver. Many customers express frustration upon hearing about our policy because there is usually a time factor and cost to passing this driving test. More often than not though, people and family members thank us for putting safety in front of profits in a matter this important. If you are unsure about the process for driver training, you can call any of our mobility consultants and we are happy to refer you to someone in your area that can assist you with the process.