Motoring Advice: Our daughter is in a wheelchair... What car (or bus) will suit us best?
Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'
We're a family of seven: two adults, five children (aged nine to 17). Our car is a reliable Toyota Avensis Verso, 02 (220,000 miles). It's been amazing; done all the trips, camping holidays, school runs, dentist trips, visits to vet, football, camogie and with our extra needs, all the hospital trips too. We have a little girl in a wheelchair. Up to this year her wheelchair collapsed into the dropped boot, but now we had get a rigid frame chair. It kills me to move from our car; she's like family and shares all the memories and milestones, but we cannot go anywhere in one car. What car (or bus) will suit us best? We don't need the wheelchair to be locked in place, but I need to be able to get it into the new mode of transport. I can collapse the handles and remove the headrest. I do around 15k a year. We have a primary cert; budget up to €40k. We did look at the VW Caddy Maxi Life. The verdict from the children was "Ma! It's like a hearse!" So, no thank you.
Aidan: Practicality sometimes means compromising on style, so keep the Caddy Maxi Life on the shortlist. Look for one in Highline trim and in a lighter colour. You'd be surprised how much difference that makes. Alternatives of a similar size are the Peugeot Partner Tepee and the Ford Grand Tourneo Connect. Both are comparable but similar in stature to the VW; maybe that rules them out by association.
Considering your children's age, I think the Citroen Space Tourer is a worthy contender. It has a sliding rear door and configurable seat arrangement, so the car can grow with your family. If you want to stick with Toyota, then opt for the Proace Verso; it is virtually the same thing. Don't make your life difficult by choosing on style. Opt for the 2-litre 150bhp Feel model if you can.
Eddie: I agree it's a compromise, but for your requirements always consider the fact that the family is growing, thereby needing more and more space. I think you'll have to work a bit of psychology here; your question hints you know that. I think the Peugeot Partner Tepee is one you can sell to your family as they have decked it out well. I'd be inclined towards the Toyota Proace Verso on the basis you are trading in a Toyota. And the Caddy Maxi Life has to be at least considered. These are versatile and practical motors. They may not look great, but I think you've got to take this route. Present the family with these options and stress the pluses: space, accessibility and versatility. We wish you many more happy years on the road together.
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