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Hello all you smart discerning consumers. I would love to pick your brains if I might. I live in Brooklyn, NY and I drive a 2010 Toyota Yaris hatchback. As reliable as this car has been (sans all the recalls), I find the front seat very uncomfortable (I drove a Geo Metro and before that a 1971 VW Fastback and both were much more comfortable). I drive manual and the stick is very heavy on the thing, it's also very loud in there, not a well insulated car.  Still, I would continue to drive the yaris until it or I die (it only has 38k miles, i bought it in 2012 for 10k with 6k on it) because it hits a sweet spot between fuel efficiency and reliability and parkability, but unfortunately my mother recently became crippled after a terrible fall. She can barely walk with a walker and usually requires a wheelchair for anything more than walking across a room. Her orthopedist says it's absolutely permanent and because she's elderly, it's also probably progressive. She can at present get into a car, in other words she doesn't need to be in the wheelchair and rolled into the car. I fold the wheelchair and store it in back when we travel together. Her wheelchair is big and I lose the entire backseat to get it in car, it doesn't fit in my hatch. I'm with her at least twice a week to help her with her errands and stuff so obviously I need a new car. She's also very uncomfortable in my car, the poor dear. 

So I'm looking for a very comfortable, very reliable, as fuel efficient as possible, not huge-huge (for parking) car, but big enough to be able to fold a wheelchair and get it into the trunk without having to use any of the backseats. It needs to be four door (maybe obvious but sad for me because I like 2-door). So I was thinking of a used Scion XB (even though I hate the second version aesthetically but I guess I'll live) or maybe a used Honda Element, though they are so much more expensive. I guess I'm also considering a Subaru Outback or Forester (even though everyone has them in my neighborhood and I kind of don't love how smug the people who drive them seem), or maybe a used Passat or Jetta Wagon? My mom had a toyota matrrix and i was going to keep that when she had to give it up at the time of her fall, but that also doesn't fit her wheelchair in trunk. I really have no idea. I'm worried she'll have trouble getting into a traditional SUV because they are sort of high up.  I don't want to spend more than 13k for a used car, and I don't want a car with over 80k on it.  I would say it should be a 2007 or newer. She's around 5'4  so I'd love a car that she didn't have to struggle to climb up to get in or to grapple to stand up from the seat because it was so low. I'm 5'10 and my husband is 6'1 so something with front seat leg room is a must (hate how cramped the yaris is in front). Lots of variables, not sure what would be best. Any recommedations are highly appreciated. One last thing regarding a Scion, would you be worried about buying a car that isn't made any longer, regarding parts. I imagine a lot of the parts are toyota but still.  Oh, and a manual drive car is not essential (just slightly preferred). 

Any recommendations of any kind? And thanks so, soo much! 

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Kia Soul?

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Thanks, that was what I was planning on next even without this situation, but the trunk looks tiny in photos. Maybe I need to go in person and check it out or measure her huge wheelchair and look at specs.

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1. Comfortable Seats
2. Well insulated
3.  Reliable
4. Fuel Efficient
5. Easy to park
6. Spacious
7.  Overall very comfortable
8. Lots of front seat leg room
9. Budget 13k
10. Less than 80k miles

I'm a car guy and I can tell you that what you are looking for will be incredibly hard to find.  You'll have to sacrifice something.   Most mainstream cars (Hondas, Ford, Toyotas, etc.) won't have decent sound deadening, which is why Hondas make your ears bleed on the highway.  Most mainstream cars also have crap seats.  If you want good seats, buy a Volvo.  Best seats on the market hands down, but I digress.

The only car I could come close to recommending that just about meets all of your requirements is a used Buick Encore. I'm sure you can negotiate down to $13k for the three I found near you. 
Buick Encores in NYC Area 

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2011-2015 Chevy Volt? Fold the rear seats flat. Should be able to get at '14 off lease for just around 13k.

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Crown Vic

Serious answer : Mazda 5. Small,efficient, fun to drive yet large enough to fit what you need in the back. Dirt cheap used.

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I rented a Soul, and could BARELY fit one suitcase and a folded up travel stroller in the "trunk." Skip for sure.

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BucknifeJones said:   Crown Vic

Serious answer : Mazda 5. Small,efficient, fun to drive yet large enough to fit what you need in the back. Dirt cheap used.

  
The tiny minivan... When the MPV was no longer produced, I thought about it until I found out the 5 didn't have power sliding doors. The 3rd row you'll have it always folded to fit a wheelchair. Otherwise, you're better off with any station wagon which will give you a lower entry for the chair.

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Sounds like you could use a minivan.

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I suspect she will eventually move to an electric wheelchair. If so, none of those would work and you will need something with a trailer hitch. Does your area have any car sharing services? If so, you can drive to her place and use her $ to pay for the car sharing, an uber or a taxi. If she want to save $ she can buy groceries online, squeeze into your car or let you run the errand without her. Some cities offer very cheap bus rides that will take her from home to the doctor and back as well. I would not buy another car unless YOU needed it.

If you are in the MTA area look at http://web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm 

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Because you don't need a third row of seats, I second the Mazda 5. I think rear seat egress should be good, and since it's not that large, parking should be easy (hopefully your mom will help you qualify for a handicapped placard, which should help too).

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RailroadTrack said:   1. Comfortable Seats
2. Well insulated
3.  Reliable
4. Fuel Efficient
5. Easy to park
6. Spacious
7.  Overall very comfortable
8. Lots of front seat leg room
9. Budget 13k
10. Less than 80k miles

I'm a car guy and I can tell you that what you are looking for will be incredibly hard to find.  You'll have to sacrifice something.   Most mainstream cars (Hondas, Ford, Toyotas, etc.) won't have decent sound deadening, which is why Hondas make your ears bleed on the highway.  Most mainstream cars also have crap seats.  If you want good seats, buy a Volvo.  Best seats on the market hands down, but I digress.

The only car I could come close to recommending that just about meets all of your requirements is a used Buick Encore. I'm sure you can negotiate down to $13k for the three I found near you. 
Buick Encores in NYC Area

  I'm a bu fan of the Encore, but don't think it'll work in this scenario since the cargo area is pretty tiny, and likely wouldn't fit the wheelchair, especially if it didn't fit in a Toyota Matrix.

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Soy, one more. What about the Honda Fit? The Magic seat in the back folds up to allow a bike, so maybe it would also accommodate the wheelchair.

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How smug are Mercedes drivers? How about a GLK350? I think they started making them in 2010. They're more in the 13-17k range though with around 80k. If you get one with parktronic, it will have the front and rear parking distance sensors.

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This is all helpful, thanks so much!

I was considering a Mazda 5, it fell off my radar for some reason, maybe because I really did not want to go in the direction of a minivan, but it's small enough to be somewhat practical for me. This might trump the Scion Xb if the gas efficiency is close. The volt looks great (I didn't realize the trunk was tht big) but it just seems to be a little smaller than what I need. A volvo station wagon would be great (though long for parking) but aren't they terribly unreliable now?

My mom does have both a handicapped placard that I have my car registered on and she also has something in NY called Access-a-Ride, which is a door-to-door shuttle and cab service for which the disabled person pays the price of a city bus or train ride but even though it's wonderful to have that option, they are often hours late to pick up given unforeseen traffic and medical emergencies (since everyone is disabled), etc, and they pick up several people so it can take two hours to go somewhere that should take twenty minutes. The placard is great but my only thing is that I can't legally use it when she's not in the car and I occassionally even feel guilty for using it when she's not with me even though I would probably never get busted (in case I'm stopping someone with a legitimate handicap from using the one open spot, so I always try to find parking first and would prefer something that isn't huge for that reason. Regarding her needing an electric wheelchair in teh future, I hear you and I anticipate the same. I prefer having something for the meanwhile that I will flip if it becomes not the right thing. The thing I liked about the scion and element (and maybe a minivan) is that I have seen that they can be decked out with a wheelchair ramp thingee so that would allow me to adapt the vehicle if it should come to that. It is easier for me to just do her errands without her but she's so youthful and I don't want her to become so housebound, I like to get her out as much as I possibly can (even if it does do my head in sometimes). Again, thanks so much for your suggestions! If anyone else has thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

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I have seen people put a wheelchair in Prius's hatch. Wheelcahir fits in as is when folded but if footrests are removed, it is easier.

All seats have lot of room and rear seat is easy to get in and out for a disabled person.

Great mileage

May be easy to find cheap priuses around you with people changing to electrics

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not a bad idea, regarding the Prius. i wonder if i can get the station wagon version used for less than 14k used, probably not. her wheelchair is bigger than most for some reason. My 105 year old grandmother's fit in the matrix with ease but not my mom's.

Btw, I am not at all hesitant to go a long way for a great deal on a car. I took a train to Virginia to get my mom's matrix for $4000 cheaper than i could find it locally for nearly new, so in terms of finding something close, it doesn't need to be super close.

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look for 2009 prius

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Btw, the Buick Encore looks like a possibility. i'm gonna see if her wheelchair will fit in that. looks like a perfect size actually.

Mercedes might be a little steep used, and maybe too expensive for parts if things went south?

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I have a Soul and a Grand Caravan (but no wheelchair for testing). A chair would probably fit okay in the Soul with the back seats down but the hatch opening may be wider in a Prius. A Prius (and a V) were in the running when we got the Soul and the styling won out over the gas mileage. We did a week rental in a Prius and it's comfy, as is the Soul. Can't beat a minivan but even the 5 will seem like a bear to park at first. We used to put a chair in the back of an old style Outback and in the trunk of a Buick Century and that was no issue for either vehicle. Maybe check out getting a different chair?

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Oh wait, to clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that I need help parking, I am a truly great parallel parker, like olympic gold medalist-type parker. i can't spell, do simple math, or tie my shoes but I'm great parker. I just meant a smallish big car would be better than a boat because I live in a city.

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Love the grand caravan, btw. so comfortable! maybe i should just screw it and get a hige minivan.  yeah, the soul is a looker and i've liked the way it drives when i've rented one. i just really want use of the backseat, especially since i'm often with my sister or husband when i visit my mom, but also because i like to take both the walker and her wheelchair with us so she can decide what she needs. this new normal is all kinds of a bummer. 

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bewley said:   Love the grand caravan, btw. so comfortable! maybe i should just screw it and get a hige minivan.  yeah, the soul is a looker and i've liked the way it drives when i've rented one. i just really want use of the backseat, especially since i'm often with my sister or husband when i visit my mom, but also because i like to take both the walker and her wheelchair with us so she can decide what she needs. this new normal is all kinds of a bummer. 
The chair may fit in a Soul if you fold half of the rear seat down. 

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If she will eventually need a power chair, go for the minivan. You can have a lift in the back.

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First sorry about your Mom's too young wheelchair need.

Second make sure there's not lighter, more compact folding wheelchairs available. Some chairs are heavier than a Toyota Corolla & don't fold flatter than a hippo.
 

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That's actually a great idea, maybe I should get her a smaller wheelchair that can at least fit into a matrix or this buick encore or a prius (if it's cheap enough). There are tons fo Mazda 5s and the resale value isn't crazy-high so if she's not into the idea of a second smaller wheelchair (along with keeping her bigger one for when she's taking on the Access-a-Ride shuttle), i'll probably go with that or the dreaded scion xb (about the same price).

Thanks everyone. I'm moved that you guys would offer advise. It's making a bad situation a little easier to navigate. 

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From personal experience---Keep the same vehicle and use a travel chair for now. Something like this https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Medical-Lightweight-Transport-Wheel...

If you are only dealing with moderately sidewalks and you are mostly pushing her, or she can use her legs to push her self, then that's what you need. The chair will fit pretty well in most any vehicle. They are easy to fold and much lighter than a chair with full sized wheels.

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scrouds said:   If she will eventually need a power chair, go for the minivan. You can have a lift in the back.
  
Actually I would visit e.Bay Motors and look at the different wheelchair capable vehicles.   Why not just get one that is already fully built for a chair?

As far as vehicles go for a folding chair?  Look for a 2010 Chevy HHR, its a small wagon and they are CHEAP.  My stepmother likes hers a lot because its so narrow that she can easily walk around it in the garage.

 

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It's true, Taylor, that when I'm taking her to do things out of the house we are mostly indoors, maybe a transporter would be sufficient for these jaunts.

Yeah, I keep going back and forth, RedWolfe, but I guess I should, because that way I won't have to think of the actual car as a temporary thing and also it won't be as much of a problem/emergency when she does require one. The Scion XB is one of the smaller of the ones that would accomodate a ramp, i think the Mazda 5 can be fitted with a lift.

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actually, there's also this: a kia soul ramp but I'd still have to be willing to lose the backseat to get the wheelchair packed in the back, that is before she was at the point of needing to be rolled in. 

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bewley said:   actually, there's also this: a kia soul ramp but I'd still have to be willing to lose the backseat to get the wheelchair packed in the back, that is before she was at the point of needing to be rolled in. 
  
The REAL trick is deciding if you have to get something SHE can drive or only something that she can be driven IN.   The Minivans tend to have side facing ramps and rotating driver seats so its an easier transition.

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You can't beat a minivan for your needs. They have sliding doors, are comfortable, spacious, fuel efficient, reliable, and safe.

I'd recommend a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. Go test drive one and see which one you like more.

Also, as much as I like Mazda, I would not recommend a Mazda 5 due to their poor crash test ratings:
http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/mazda/5-4-door-wagon/...

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Echoing some of the other resonses, the first thing that comes to mind for me is a mini-van. A big part of the puzzle here is actually getting your mother in and out of the car. The transition from the wheel chair to the car seat and back will likely be the hardest part. You are thinking about stowing the wheel chair itself, but to me this is much more important.

The huge access of the sliding side doors will make it much easier. Just try to picture helping your mother in and out of a regular car door. Basically you are going to need to be in the door area with your mother at the same time while helping her in and out.

I know you live in a city with very tight parking which would be a turn off for you. I would suggest finding a small mini-van and taking it for a test drive. During that test drive bring it home and try parking it where you usually park. I think you will find it isn't that bad at all. If you wanted to take it even a step further, and your mother is up to it, take the car home and help your mother in and out to see if you can do it.

Having your mother fall while helping her getting in and out needs to be avoided - even having her try to contort herself while doing this can be detrimental.

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prosperity said:   Echoing some of the other resonses, the first thing that comes to mind for me is a mini-van. A big part of the puzzle here is actually getting your mother in and out of the car. The transition from the wheel chair to the car seat and back will likely be the hardest part. You are thinking about stowing the wheel chair itself, but to me this is much more important.

The huge access of the sliding side doors will make it much easier. Just try to picture helping your mother in and out of a regular car door. Basically you are going to need to be in the door area with your mother at the same time while helping her in and out.

I know you live in a city with very tight parking which would be a turn off for you. I would suggest finding a small mini-van and taking it for a test drive. During that test drive bring it home and try parking it where you usually park. I think you will find it isn't that bad at all. If you wanted to take it even a step further, and your mother is up to it, take the car home and help your mother in and out to see if you can do it.

Having your mother fall while helping her getting in and out needs to be avoided - even having her try to contort herself while doing this can be detrimental.

  Would a mini-van be harder to get into for OP's mother? I.e. is the seat height above the ground higher than a station wagon or hatchback?

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RailroadTrack said:   1. Comfortable Seats
2. Well insulated
3.  Reliable
4. Fuel Efficient
5. Easy to park
6. Spacious
7.  Overall very comfortable
8. Lots of front seat leg room
9. Budget 13k
10. Less than 80k miles

I'm a car guy and I can tell you that what you are looking for will be incredibly hard to find.  You'll have to sacrifice something.   Most mainstream cars (Hondas, Ford, Toyotas, etc.) won't have decent sound deadening, which is why Hondas make your ears bleed on the highway.  Most mainstream cars also have crap seats.  If you want good seats, buy a Volvo.  Best seats on the market hands down, but I digress.

The only car I could come close to recommending that just about meets all of your requirements is a used Buick Encore. I'm sure you can negotiate down to $13k for the three I found near you. 
Buick Encores in NYC Area

  
I was thinking of Buick also. Late model ones. The best thing to do is to test drive them and see what you think. I have driven Dodge Challenger, it's fits all of the criteria above. it's very very comfortable but I am not sure about reliability of Dodge. 

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WRT maneuvering your mother into and out of the vehicle, I would ask her PT for their opinion.  Even if they don't have a great suggestion, they can likely warn you of some poor ones.
Also congrats on being a good kid and not taking the easy way out.  Remaining active mentally, emotionally and physically (to a degree), the better your mom will be.  Good luck.


 

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BostonOne said:     Would a mini-van be harder to get into for OP's mother? I.e. is the seat height above the ground higher than a station wagon or hatchback?
  My thoughts - I don't have any sidewalks so I am trying to envision this. I am thinking that with a small mini-van the rear (second row) seat might be equal in height to a wheelchair on a sidewalk.

I just can't see how someone could help a person from a wheelchair through a regular car door.

It was just some food for thought - something for the OP to consider when looking at vehicles.

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Because you would prefer to keep your present vehicle until it needs to be scrapped, despite some of its negatives (uncomfortable seats, bad noise insulation, etc.),

why not try to find a compact wheelchair that CAN fit a better into your present car
(ideally it would fit fully into the trunk/hatch area so you could sometimes bring along the other relatives in your backseat),

and keep that system going for a year or longer,

while you see if your mom's condition might quickly (within a year or two) transition to your needing a larger vehicle with a wheelchair lift in the back,
or whether it is going to be stable for a number of years into the future.

In other words, instead of making 2 costly vehicle changes in a small number of years (current car to interim vehicle to lift-enabled vehicle),
maybe you could, for the short-term, invest in a specially-compact wheelchair that works with your current car, and just make 1 vehicle change in the next few years (current car to lift-enabled vehicle, whenever that becomes necessary).

I have not lived in your town, but I have lived within the city of Boston and I remember that finding any parking space at any time of day was a nightmare - and every inch of extra vehicle length made that harder. Therefore, I would resist getting a vehicle that was much longer than your current one (which would only be a stopgap measure anyway, if a lift-enabled vehicle were going to be needed in a few years's time) unless it were necessary. A longer/wider vehicle would help you for a couple of hours twice a week when you are taking your mom out and about in town, but all the other times of the week when you and your husband are using it, that extra bulk would be a hindrance.

Since your mom needs to keep the big wheelchair at her house at all times for when she is transported by the city's van service,
if your mom's house/entryway would become cluttered with two wheelchairs in it, you could even keep the compact one at your house and just use it for when you take your mom out and about in town.

----
Good luck with whatever you decide, and please come back and let the thread know what you ended up doing!

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Like your mom, due to an event, my dad became severely handicapped. It was a struggle just to transfer into a car. Each person's disabilities differ, so what works for one might not be the best for another. We systematically searched through every possible manufacturer, and the pickings were slim.

We needed to transfer my dad, load the wheel chair, and have seating for 4. Lifting a wheel chair cleanly over the lip of a trunk well was out of the question. Seat height was a deal breaker. There wasn't a snowball's chance dad could step up into an SUV. And if a seat had been too low, like a sports car, he wouldn't have been able to get up to his wheel chair. In some cars the seats are too far away from the door. Not a single potential car had the door swing wide enough to really get the wheel chair forward enough to directly transfer.

In 2010 we found mini vans, subaru Outback, Volvo wagon (Don't remember model), Kia Rondo, Volks Wagon Jetta Wagon. We bought the Outback. (It's not "trendy" in our area. ) As a car, without respect to my dad's disabilities, it has been wonderful. Trouble free. Rides and handles well. High ground clearance and all wheel drive are winter friendly.

Since that time, my dad has passed away. Now my mom has age related problems, but not nearly as severe. I had to get rid of my beloved pickup truck because mom could no longer step up into it. Mom has a little red scooter for getting around (Your mom might also check into those. Mom's scooter changed her life. There are at least 4 styles that fit INTO a car. gogo, travel scoot, luggie, and a small model made by an Isralie company). I bought a minivan. I'm an an out of shape 50+ female and I put mom's scooter, without disassembly, into my minivan. I park the scooter at the door. Lift the front wheels onto the deck. Then lift the rear wheels and roll it in.

Whatever you choose, include your mom and her wheelchair in a test drive before you buy.

Wish you and your mom well.

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