Author Topic: Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver  (Read 1852 times)

fewilcox

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Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver
« on: May 20, 2015, 12:50:11 AM »
Our current vehicle, a 2004 Kia Sedona minivan, is in its death throes, but replacing it is proving tricky. I won't go into specifics (you can find them on my blog's bio if you're interested), but my physical limitations determine our vehicle choices, most especially the height from seat to ground. I find it equally difficult and painful to climb into SUVs and out of cars. The Sedona's seat height is perfect I can simply slide in and out with very little effort. The van was preceded by an '02 Ford Ranger, which likewise had seats at the perfect height.

We don't have any kids yet, but have friends as passengers a couple of times a week. Since we live in the county we don't get curbside trash pickup, and we produce so little trash that it isn't worth paying for it ourselves. Because of that we swing by the local transfer station (the exit for which we pass at least four times a week) every couple of months, dropping off our 1-2 bags of trash for $1 each and lots of recycling for free, so we also need cargo space for those trips.

Since my wife has been out of work for nearly two years and my Disability payments don't go very far, price is a major issue, but even used minivans are pricey the cheapest we've found worth buying was still $13k. That plus the fact that minivans are going extinct (Kia's dumping the Sedona, and Ford and Chevy both dropped theirs years ago) have us baffled about what to buy before the Sedona fails completely (which could happen at any moment).

Here's a summary of our needs:
* Seats at or near hip height for a 5'10.5" man.
* Space for at least six people comfortably (our most frequent passenger is very overweight) and at least half a dozen 30 gallon trash/recycling bags.
* A price under $8k if possible, or as little over it if not.
* Front-wheel drive, as well as shocks and ground clearance suitable for the poorly-maintained gravel road in farm country on which we live, as well as some of the super-steep hills we routinely have to climb here in the Western NC mountains.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2015, 03:58:08 AM »
How about another 2004 Sedona? Surely you can find one in good condition, and it sounds perfect for your needs.

catccc

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Re: Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2015, 08:43:08 AM »
I hesitate to recommend an SUV, but given your height and passenger requirements, but one with a 3rd row of seating might work for you.  No idea how the seat height would work, but something like a Honda Pilot, maybe?

fewilcox

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Re: Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2015, 04:00:16 AM »
Sorry for the delay. Been a bit distracted by emergency house repairs.

How about another 2004 Sedona? Surely you can find one in good condition, and it sounds perfect for your needs.
The Sedona has been one problem after another. I think that every year it was an IIHS top safety pick, but it's so poorly built that it spent at least 3 months of the 6.5 years we've owned it in the shop or dead in the driveway until I could fix. Our mechanic really hated it because the parts can be hard to get, and because it was designed by a five year old. In order to replace the starter I had to remove a large section of the exhaust pipe, but couldn't because the bolt holding it in was so rusted that nothing short of an air wrench could remove it. In the process I found out that the engine has an internal oil leak somewhere, so the engine will need to be stripped down with only 130k miles on it. The total failure of whatever's leaking is the ticking clock we're racing against.

So definitely no more Kias. The whole experience has soured me quite a bit on foreign cars in general since my American cars always served me well, but my only foreign car has been nothing but headaches. We bought the Sedona after my Ranger got totaled. To get the Ranger I traded in the '87 Chrysler 5th Avenue my grandmother had given me several years before; she bought it from an old lady who sold it only because her late husband told her to get a new car every 10 years. It's old enough that its odometer only has 5 digits, but since I had both of its last two title transfers I know it had rolled over at least once. I don't remember what it read when I sold it, but I'd guess it had at least 150k miles on it, and possibly more than 200k.

I only sold it because I installed a new alternator (an easy 15-minute job on a car that old), and a few months later something else in the electrical system had damaged that alternator. The only other major problem I ever had with that car was when second gear died and I had to get the transmission rebuilt (that $1000 was still less than buying a new one). All told "The Beast" spent less than a week out of service in three years and I spent less than $2,000 on parts and the labor on the tranny rebuild.

Regardless of country of origin, I want that kind of reliability from something that better suits my current needs.

I hesitate to recommend an SUV, but given your height and passenger requirements, but one with a 3rd row of seating might work for you.  No idea how the seat height would work, but something like a Honda Pilot, maybe?
I've always railed against SUVs for the same reasons MMM does (like how few of them ever actually need 4WD), but one of the increasingly popular super-sized station wagon type with FWD could work very well. As I have spent years ranting about the absurdity of SUVs I would never have thought of that option on my own. Thanks.

I've had several friends over the years who owned Pilots, including my best man, so I'll see what their experiences have been like.

I can count on one hand the number of times in the 13 years I've lived here that I could have used 4WD, but after driving the van for nearly 7 years I've come to love FWD and wouldn't want to go back to RWD, but I don't know which crossovers offer FWD.

Also, one part of my chronic pain is that I can't always use both legs and both hands, so I require an automatic transmission. I can now comfortably drive with any combination of one hand and one foot (but always use as many as are working in order to maximize safety), but can't always spare the limbs to change gears. A related feature I hadn't thought of before is driver's side armrests that will allow me to keep my hands on the wheel without my arms wearing out.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Need Recommendations for Vehicle for Disabled Driver
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2015, 04:20:55 AM »
Sounds like you may have to go around a few used car dealers and kick tires on a few vehicles to see what'll suit you.

Any vehicle we suggest may or may not be suited for your needs. That said, it seems like another minivan or a crossover might be the go. Check out what has a good rep for reliability and see if it's comfortable for you.

Good luck.