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Car That Fits A Wheelchair in the Boot. How Hard Can It Be?

Well, we’ve been at it for nearly a year now, this manipulating an unsteady person anywhere she needs to go.  It’s been a full year since my mother had the first of two nasty infections, from which she’s never fully recovered.

What did change, was her brain.  Damaged, and with significant vascular changes.  Her physical strength and arthritis has deteriorated to such an extent, that she finds it difficult and painful to walk more than a very short distance.  Over the last year, her short term memory had diminished significantly and her confidence to go out is totally shot.

From someone who ‘had’ to go out at least once a day, I’m lucky if I can get her out of the house once a month.  It’s not good for her, and it’s not good for me being trapped in the house so much, only being able to leave her for spells that rivalled elderly dog ownership, as her insulin levels have to be checked regularly.  She’s not safe with medication or her insulin on her own, and if she takes a  hypo, there would be no-one to help her.  She cannot manage her testing kit for herself.

Where I thought I’d have an easy time, was finding a wheelchair friendly car, that would also double as our family car.  Both our cars are on the way out.  The Discovery has given up the ghost and she can’t get up and into it now. anyway, so it would have to go, even if it was still behaving itself.  It’s beside the point that it’s leaking water and the electrics are dodgy.

The man could fix it, but he’s never got the time and he won’t pay for someone else to do what he can do, so it’s at stalemate.  I do love the Discovery, but if it were garage maintained, we’d need a whole new mortgage to keep it up.


We also have an old Vauxhall family car that has a fault somewhere that keeps draining the battery.  The fix would likely cost far more than the car is worth.  I do need a car that doesn’t need jumpstarted every second day, and I’d like to find the information I’m looking for online, but it’s harder than it looks.  I did consider a Vauxhall Insignia, but they’re too low for her to get in and out of.

All I want is a car that will take a bog standard manual wheelchair, one that’s not too low so that I don’t break my back getting her in and out, and not too high, so that I have to lift her in either.  Oh yes, I also need to fit 5 people in the car, and I don’t want to pay a fortune in road tax every year, nor pay a whack on customising a family car.

I also can’t face the Citreon Berlingo, nor the boxy cars.  It’s my car.  I know we all have different ideas of what is nice and what’s not, but I don’t want to saddle myself with what I see as a horrible looking car, just because I need one that fits a wheelchair in the boot.  Selfish, maybe, but it’s my money, and I should be able to spend it on something that suits our family, not something we’re stuck with because there’s nothing else.

Can I find the information I need online?  Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places.

There’s a large proportion of the population who need wheelchairs, so I can’t believe how difficult it is to find out if a car boot can take one.  You’d think with the money spent on advertising and lovely glossy brochures, that there would be something in them.  A line somewhere that gave an indication of suitability for wheelchairs.  Yes, I can see boot dimensions, but given the angle of some boots, they can look big enough in theory, but if it narrows in the wrong place, a wheelchair won’t fit in, and I’d like to carry some shopping at times too.

Before I go to look at a car, I want to know it will fit the wheelchair, otherwise I’m stuck to lugging the thing around with me and taking it out at every car dealership, which is a pretty daft way of going shopping.  Why do they mention cup holders, bluetooth connection, seat warmers, and neglect to add a pretty basic feature?  Perhaps wheelchairs just aren’t sexy enough, or, as I said before, I’m looking in the wrong places, but if I am, then shouldn’t it be easier to find the right places?

I will say though, that I do like the look of the hybrids.  I’m tempted to look for a Toyota Prius, or the smaller ones along those lines.  I did consider the Nissan Leaf, but the driving range would drive me round the bend, though guess what…I don’t know if they’re worth looking at, as I don’t know if a wheelchair will fit in the boot……..and I can’t be bothered going to find out.

I may just pick up a banger from the car mart to tide me over,  because I can’t decide, and don’t have time to visit dozens of showrooms to find out.

Have a good day all, and hope you all stay safe in the windy weather.


32 thoughts on “Car That Fits A Wheelchair in the Boot. How Hard Can It Be?

  1. May 2019 and this is still a valid issue! I am new to this whole lifestyle of a disabled passenger and it is so overwhelming! Bad enough to deal with their issues of getting in and out of the car but add to that a suitable vehicle for access/egress one that also suits a walking frame or wheelchair then it’s just silly.
    Does the industry truly expect me to drag a disabled person round car showrooms trying out cars to see if they can get in and out and if the boot is suitable? Yup… it looks like it does…
    I can feel a campaign coming on!!
    Thank you for sharing this – like others I found your blog by accident looking up car boot shapes and was such a relief to read your experience and see that it wasn’t just me missing a big secret!! Sorry to read your mum had deteriorated. Hugs

  2. Were having the same issue with folding wheelchair. My old car was a ford c-max 2004. Brilliant. Wheelchair stood upright behind rear seat, handlebars down and I could still see out of back window. New style didnt fit the same. Ended up with citroen c4 picasso 2014. I had to change to grand picasso because chair would not fit properly as i wanted. Motability is due in 9 months, so have started looking again. I want a car where I fit a wheelchair upright behind rear seat without obstructing view or boot length along passenger side window upright. So far Ford Kuga is fitting bill or a 7 seater with back 2 down. I really want a smaller style hatchback. Daft as it seems, Qashqai is close, but blocks view slightly. Most seem to have level access rather than dropped boot area. Some have false floor but still not enough. Good job I got 9 months to go. I agree that boot space sizes dont help. It would help if manufacturers or motability could show pics of wheelchairs in situ.

  3. Disability has an affect on all of of us at some stage in our lives, be it through another person or ourselves. Having a wife who has had ME/ CFS for the past 12yrs, has made me realise the need for a practical, economical, accessible vehicle is both necessary and desirable for a huge amount of people with disabled people to care for. I have converted a Toyota van to a very comfortable vehicle with a bed to sleep in, but unfortunately caused issues with the ability to climb into the vehicle. The main thing I have found difficult to cater for is the fact that a ‘everyday’ car/van is hard to come by without some sort of compromise . Foldable wheelchairs are a good way of making access easier, but have to be comfortable for the user over a reasonable time period.We currently have a Vauxhall Zafira which is very good for access and a good drive,but not the best for comfort etc’. Adapted vehicles tend to be expensive, even when second hand, but do provide a alternative for easier access for wheelchair users/ caters. Drivability is another factor as not everyone wants to drive a van like vehicle. Japanese imports are another option, but then you have to look at insurance,fuel costs, etc’ although the level of comfort/ accessibility is very good. It’s a hard thing to sort and requires a lot of thought folks. Not sure this input will help but just a few years hinges to think about.

    1. Thanks Ernie. Good advice. This post continues to get viewed a lot.

      We’ve moved on and my mum can’t use a foldable wheelchair any more, sadly. As she has little savings, and is over 65, there is no possibility of a car that is wheelchair adapted. We’re pretty much stuck to days the wheelchair can be pushed, or paying for a wheelchair taxi, which is a shame. I hear you on the Zafira. We used to have one. It was one of my most hated owned cars ever.

  4. buy a Volkswagen touran or Opel zafira, those 22 can fit a wheelchair 100% and easy, i have both of them

    kind regards

    1. Sadly, I am now looking for a car to wheel a wheelchair in now. A progression of needs means another different car again. At the moment, we’re having to use the bus to take her everywhere and that’s punishing, as it takes so long.

  5. I currently have an old (56 plate) Citreon C3 and I can fit my mums small lightweight wheelchair in without putting the seats down – need to replace the car soon though, our Peugeot 206 is not tall enough to take the wheelchair without dropping the seats.

  6. Just tried the Golf SV boot today (car had been at no 1 on my buying list) – wheelchair didn’t fit in! even with seats 60% down – really put a spanner in the works!
    Fitted – upright – in Ford BMax [high Fiesta] – no room for anything else mind, but fitted and with the back seats up!
    Fitted, just, in BMW Series 2 Active Tourer with part of back seats down.

  7. I felt very sad for you and your Mum reading your initial post, and guess many of us looking at your blog share a similar experience.

    I thought finding a car with a low large enough boot for wheelchair, low sill so Mum can step in (but not a seat where you drop to the floor!), and decent power would be easy and not a lot to ask, but many of the new cars are “butched up” so too high to step in. The older models are better shapes, but those with excellent wide aperture, low lip, capacious boots tend to be slow eg Ford focus, Citroens and Peugeots. I wholly agree that I am absolutely uninterested in cup holders and arm rests!

    Wouldn’t it be great if some manufacturers and car mags like Top Gear and What Car could get a hold of your idea to assess and promote easy access cars, wheelchair friendly cars, and any that a wheelchair can go in with person in it. Also for manufacturers to conclude that practical doesn’t mean we want powerless!

    At the moment I am considering a Golf SV which has quite a low boot for lifting anything in (don’t yet know if big enough but seems one of your respondents thinks so) or BMW Series 2 – but they are both a hefty whack of cash and cars are being upgraded so quickly and Hybrids and electrics coming in that even a brand new car now will doubtless need upgrading in fifteen years.

    I tried a Ssan Yong Tivoli which had many things going for it and very comfortable seats, lots of good gadgets included in the price eg parking camera and sensors, and for much less outlay but the boot was high so whilst it may be ideal for shopping or a suitcase, would be a major lift for a wheelchair without a hoist.

    Another brilliant option would be if dealers kept a clean wheelchair in their showrooms so one could try out what is/isn’t manageable. If any reader is in contact with disability organisations maybe you can ask them to take this up as a nationwide challenge.

    1. I have been prompted by my own comments to contact Top Gear about this problem and included reference to your blog. Hopefully someone may take a step forward for us all.

  8. Don’t know if this will help but when I first started having to use a wheelchair sometimes we were recommended to buy a Suzuki Swift saloon. We did, the wheelchair fitted in the boot without having to put the seats down, as did a weeks worth of shopping for 4 people plus pets. I could get in and out of the front seat easily as it is neither too low nor high for me (this may be because I am short though and can get in and out myself) and the back fits 3 adults without a problem. Another one is a VW Golf, my local taxi driver runs this and the next size up (a saloon) and both of these fit my wheelchair in the boot, (folded up, not unfolded for all 3 cars). Unfortunately, like your Vauxhall, our Swift developed an unfindable electrical fault that meant push/jump starting the car every day (yes, you can push start a car wearing stiletto heel, my daughter has proved this on many occasions now) and was resigned to the junk heap. We currently have a Nissan Micra but while this will take my wheeled walker (folded) in the boot with difficulty the shopping then has to go on the back seats and the wheelchair can only be put in after numerous efforts because we can never remember the exact way of cramming it in. Again, no extra room for shopping. We are currently looking for another car as a result, while I am holding out for another Swift, they are difficult to find in a roadworth condition, we are also looking at the Toyota Corolla, roomy reliable, small engined so tax and insurance are affordable. Another one with plenty of space is the Toyota Avensis, easy to get into, plenty of space for wheelchair plus shopping in the boot area, will also take 3 in the back at the same time. Hope this is of some help to someone. We have until August to decide cause that’s when our insurance and road tax is up, at the moment the Toyota is top of our list with the argument being between the corolla (me) and the Avensis (my daughter) with tax being the big decider (small engine or large engine). ps: we live next door to a shipping company and the owner lets up look at the different cars and try them with the wheelchair, saves going around the car sales yards and makes my life a lot easier.

    1. We’re running into problems where we’ll soon need one that will take a wheelchair in situ, so might be back on the car trawl again soon. I laughed at the thought of your daughter pushing the car in stilettos…. Our Car is coping at the moment, but the height to put the wheelchair in the back is my biggest issue as the one my mum uses is quite heavy.

    2. My Mum and I are having this problem too! We’ve been managing quite well with my Kangoo, but it’s now 11 yrs old, so we were looking for a replacement and were prepared to splash out on a new Berlingo, Picasso or Partner, expecting these to do the job. The wheelchair will fit in the Berlingo and Partner, but the front seat’s too high for Mum to climb into, or the “wraparound” seat style means she can’t shuffle herself in, or the sill’s to high to lift her feet over. The Picasso won’t get the chair in without removing the footrests – the back door is narrower than you think! We’ve ended up trying a Skoda Roomster – fitted both Mum and the chair thanks to adjustable height front seats and forward/back adjustable rear seats – great! Had to settle for used though as this model is no longer being made (why??) so we’re hoping that it lasts until a new, sensible thought-out vehicle comes along!

      1. We ended up with a Vauxhall Antara and a step to help me lift my mum into the front seat. She needs her wheelechair all the time now, and it’s looking more and more like the Antara is going to be unsuitable, and we’re going to have to use wheelchair taxis, as we can’t afford to change our car to one that accepts a wheelchair in situ. Now if only she was under 65, she’d get a free mobility car, but as it is, and being older, we’re stuck struggling.

        Hope you find a way forward. It’s not easy finding ways to transport wheelchair users who can’t help with the transfers etc.

        1. I know that problem as my husband is over 65 and has motor neurone disease, while he was having an operation someone crashed our parked car.we cannot afford another as ours was old but little mileage on it. The person who crashed into our car had a motability one ! Ironic

          1. Oh gosh. Definitely ironic. I once had a man shout his head off at me as I’d nipped back to my car to get something, and hadn’t put the blue badge on the window, but I’d left my mum in the shop. He was ranting about people like me using spaces for disabled people….. Mind you, I’ve thought the same about others, but def seen them arrive, park and get out, skipping and jumping.. People ignore that even with a badge, if they’re that able, that day, there’s no need to use a disability space.

  9. It’s like they make it tricky on purpose sometimes. even with all of the options finding the perfect car can still be a strain.

  10. thank you so much for this site. No obvious answers though. My Citron piccasso has just given up but I loved the flat boot which took the wheelchair lying down. I don’t want a bigger car and would be happy if chair would stand up in book but like you’ve all been saying, slanting windows make this difficult. Starting to look now. Will let you know how I get on eventually!

    1. Good luck. Finding that perfect car isn’t easy.

  11. My Mum’s wheelchair fits into our old SKODA Octavia. The car needs replacing so I’m looking for wheelchair friendly vehicles. Don’t want to get the new Octavia as it’s too big for me to drive

    1. I ended up with a bigger car than I wanted, which wasn’t ideal. Hope you find something suitable.

  12. Hello

    I’ve just stumbled across this blog post whilst searching on google for exactly the same reason. Our small hatchback car is now ten years old and I am currently pulling the remainder of my hair out looking for another similar-sized hatchback that will take my wife’s wheelchair without necessitating lowering the back seats. My existing car manages it, so why not any of the more modern ones?

    Only yesterday, I travelled 40 miles (and 40 back again!) to a dealership that advised me that they had a hatchback that would suit my needs: space in the back for a wheelchair (folded) without folding down the rear seats, low annual road tax, good mph, brand new wouldn’t break the bank, etc., but when I got there the folded wheelchair stopped the hatch door closing by about two inches… because the sloping hatch window caught on one of the edges of the wheelchair!

    Why should there have to be a compromise by folding the rear seats down and losing what additional passenger-carrying space that we sometimes need if we wish to take friends out with us for a ride? Even if we don’t have company along, dropping the rear seats adds to the already cumbersome chore of having to load a wheelchair everywhere I take my wife. Unfortunately, the alternative is to leave her at home, which could prove tricky when we need to get to HER hospital appointments!

    So, what’s the answer? I don’t honestly know. Certainly, car manufacturers who say that their vehicles are disability-compliant should ensure that they are, by checking all storage areas for appropriate wheelchair space. On the opposite side of that coin, though, they could argue that there would be plenty of room if only the rear seats were folded down. But, when all is said and done, it’s difficult enough as it is to lift a clumsy metal object up into a hatchback let alone then trying to wrestle with it in order to lay it down (and get it out again) across folded rear seats…

    1. I ended up having to go for a bigger car than I’d have liked. It’s not ideal and so many smaller cars were short by just a few millimeters in some cases, to be able to get a very modest wheelchair into. I completely agree, the wheelchair needs to go in the boot. Folding down seats to be able to use a car how it was designed is just plain daft.

      In a world where so many things need to be wheelchair frlendly, and can be with minimal changes to interior space, is slightly less padding on seats etc, I struggle to see why cars don’t come under the same banner.

  13. Probably too late as well but we have a Mazda 3 sport – we had same problem as yourself. The wheelchair fits in boot + shopping too! 4 door family car -not too low or too high to get in and out. So pleased with it.

  14. I\’m probably too late but I\’ve only just seen this article. My husband uses a wheelchair the same as the one in the picture. We have a Nissan Note and my daughter has a Nissan Juke. The wheelchair fits in both!

  15. Can motorbility help you in any way? They were really helpful when we had to look at a new car for my father in law…

    1. Thanks. I eventually had to go and do the wheelchair in the boot thing. I was told a car that it would fit, but when I got there, it was too shallow sadly. Found something while we were there trying out different boot spaces though.

  16. I commend you on what you are doing for your mother. Not many would these days. My mother and I have gone through similar trials with my grandmother. Not sure what your mother’s walking capabilities are but the wheeled walkers with seats are great! Plus they don’t take up add much space as a wheelchair in cars. Best of luck!

    1. Thank you Kristen. She was here before she fell ill, so it would uproot her too much to move her at the moment, and she has her own wee granny flat, which means she has some independence at the same time. I’m hoping I manage, eventually with some nursing care if I can ever get any. At the moment we get by.

      She’s unable to cope with a wheeled walker. Possibly unwilling is more the answer. I can’t force her to do something she no longer has the confidence to do, though I’d prefer if she tried one of those.

  17. i don’t know if this link helps at all – or indeed, if you’ve already seen it – but it looks like it allows you to search for cars with a suitable boot.

    Good luck, and stay safe in this weather!

    1. Hi, thanks Sally. Sadly, it didn’t give me what I was looking for, but for a moment there, I thought it was the icing on the cake.


    2. Hi, I came across this post whilst looking for a car that would fit my mums large, unfolded, electric wheelchair in the boot, and me, my husband, my mum and my 2 children in the car and this has been really helpful, particularly all the different advice from people, thankyou

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