Getting from A to B is important for everyone, but it's especially crucial for those with disabilities or those who suffer from chronic pain. With public transport problematic for many less-abled people, choosing a suitable private vehicle is a prime solution to a lot of mobility problems.
But with so many vehicles to choose from, how should you set about picking the right model for your needs?
Things to consider
Automatic or manual? For those with joint or muscle pain in the arms or hands, a manual transmission can make driving tough. An automatic on the other hand might be far kinder to your body.
Leg room. If you have trouble moving, having plenty of leg room can help getting in and out easier.
Height of the driving seat. Some cars may be comfortable to sit in, but tricky to get in and out of, due to low seating positions. You might consider a vehicle with a higher seat, such as an SUV or van. However, for some people, returning to a high seating position can be a challenge.
Reliability. As a disabled driver you don't want the hassle of breakdowns. Choose a model with a good reliability record. Additionally, a newer car is likely to have fewer mechanical problems than an older one.
Advanced seating technology. Many seats have in-built heating systems, while some even have cooling features. These systems, when combined with automatically adjustable seats, can help manage chronic pain and generally improve comfort.
Think about your future needs. Is your condition likely to worsen in the coming years? Choose a vehicle that will still meet your requirements several years down the line.
Vehicles to consider:
Renault Captur SUV
Lots of leg room and plenty of boot space (455L) make this a good option. Based on the Clio, the Captur also returns a minimum of 50mpg across the range, rising to 78mpg in the case of the 1.5-litre dCi 90 diesel. It's also very reliable, having done well in recent Driver Power ownership satisfaction surveys.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
If heated seating and powerful air conditioning are important to you, the Golf GTI is worth considering. People report that wheelchair loading and unloading is a cinch in this car, while the low seating position may be ideal for some disabled motorists.
SEAT Leon ST estate
VW-owned SEAT produces the Leon ST, a car that is in many ways very similar to the VW Golf Estate and the Skoda Octavia, but with more sporty styling. If having lots of space is a big issue for you, the ST delivers 587 litres with seats up, or 1,470 litres with them down. What’s more, the infotainment system is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Dacia Duster SUV
If cost is a big consideration, the Duster could be one to mull. Almost as spacious as a more costly Nissan Qashqai, you'll be able to pack a lot of mobility equipment inside. The high driving position may be of benefit to some, less so to others. While it costs a lot less than many rivals, build quality of the Duster is reported to be good. Petrol versions return around 43.5mpg, while more costly diesel models return around 64.2mpg.
Ford Focus hatchback
In recent years, the Focus hit a few bumps in the road in terms of styling and engineering, but the latest incarnation impresses with its looks and handling. Fuel economy is good, with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol returning 60mpg and the 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel delivering an excellent 80mpg. Boot space matches key rivals, while the rear delivers more space than older versions, making it a good choice for mobility buyers.
The Jazz's 'magic seats' can be folded flat for carrying mobility equipment, or they can be flipped up like cinema seats for carrying tall items. The boot is a reasonable 354 litres, while even the entry-level version is well equipped. For those with disabilities or who suffer chronic pain, the Jazz's reputation for superb reliability will be a real plus point, even if the car is not the most thrilling to drive. If safe and sensible win the day, the Honda Jazz could be for you.