A 2014 Ford Focus SFE and a 2001 Toyota Sienna XLE Wheelchair Van
Giddy up and go! Steel horse or a rolling cage, your adventure begins today!
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE Minivan
Jerry uses a wheelchair part of the time so we needed a vehicle capable of carrying his power wheelchair. A "real" wheelchair van is just not within our budget, so we picked up a used Toyota van and had a lift installed in the back. We had to remove the 3rd row seats but they go in and out fairly easily. This 2001 van only had 79,000 miles on it when we bought it in early 2012. We were stunned to find a vehicle that old with so few miles on it.
Even though the van is over a decade old, it is still very nice. The XLE model was the top of the line so this van has leather seating, power seats and every other option you'd expect to find. We got a good deal on the van and it has been a very reliable vehicle for us. The only money we have spent on it is for regularly scheduled maintenance items. As of this posting (December 2013), the van has 97,500 miles on it. The life expectancy of these vans is well in excess of 200,000 miles so we aren't quite to the halfway point yet.
The wheelchair lift is a Backpacker model that will lift up to 300 pounds. It has a wired remote control that will raise and lower the chair, we just have to drive the chair onto the lift and fold the backrest down. The VA provided the lift for us and we are so thankful for that! We also have a folding manual wheelchair, but we keep that in the trunk of the car.
The van gets about 25 MPG and is great for carrying the power wheelchair around. It has a very nice ride and all the comforts you would need in a vehicle.
For information about the bikes we used to own, see the links below under "Previous Bikes".
When we sold the Can Am Spyder, we used that money to buy a new car (and we had a lot left over). We wanted something small that got really good gas mileage but wasn't a hybrid. We also wanted an automatic transmission, cruise control, keyless entry and a trunk/hatch big enough to fit Jerry's folding manual wheelchair. We quickly narrowed it down to the following models: Mazda3, Hyundai Accent or Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Honda Fit or Civic, Chevrolet Sonic or a Ford Fiesta or Focus.
After a full day of test drives and negotiating, we settled on a 2014 Ford Focus SE with the SFE package (super fuel economy). It was a very close call between the Focus and the Mazda3, but for a $1500 price difference, we felt the Focus was a better value. Plus, the insurance was $200 per year less for a Focus! As of this posting (December 2013), we have had the Focus for about 2 months and we really like it. The best part is the 35 MPG City and 40 MPG Highway!
We really like the steering wheel controls and the little MyFord screens. We did not get the touch screens as that would have jacked the price up quite a bit and to us, it just wasn't a big deal. We copied all of our songs from our computers to a jump drive and plugged it in to the car, now we can just say "play Bohemian Rhapsody" and it will start playing! That's pretty cool. The car also shows us how many miles until we run out of gas, our average mileage and a ton of other things. Oh yeah, we can even talk on the phone hands free using the MyFord system.
We will use the car for any long trips we take or when we don't need to carry the power wheelchair. We already took it to the beach once, which is about 4 hours away and it was a reasonably comfortable ride. Not as cushy as the van but hey, we knew that going in. When you pay less than $17K for a new 2014 vehicle, you can't expect it to be on par with sedans that sell for twice that amount.
UPDATE: We had trouble with the transmission in the Focus so we got rid of it.