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Choosing the size of a WAV

The size of your wheelchair, the number of passengers and your budget will all affect what size of wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) you'll need. If you'll be driving, a major factor will be whether or not to choose a drive-from-wheelchair WAV.

As well as the general questions you ask yourself when choosing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, consider the points below to decide what size of WAV will best suit you.

Which size is best for you?

Wheelchair in the back of a Vauxhall ZafiraSmaller WAVs

The smallest WAVs are made using compact cars like the Fiat Doblo, Citroen Berlingo or Volkswagen Caddy. There is room for one wheelchair passenger and sometimes one or two other passengers in the back - though it may not be possible to fit in the other passenger seats if the wheelchair is large.


Peugeot ExpertMedium-sized WAVs

Medium-sized WAVs are made with van-style cars like the Citroen Berlingo, VW Caddy or Peugeot Partner. They allow room for some passengers in the back. Some drive-from-wheelchair WAVs are available in this size range.

Mercedes Sprinter High TopLarger WAVs

Larger WAVs are made with larger vehicles like the Chrysler Grand Voyager, Peugeot Boxer or Renault Master. They allow room for some passengers in the back. Many drive-from-wheelchair WAVs are in this size range.

Some can be fitted to allow more than one wheelchair - these largest types are the sort that are often used as taxis or minibuses.

Things to consider

  • Many people would like to have the smallest vehicle possible, for better fuel consumption, more manoeuvrability and easier parking.
  • Space is limited inside smaller WAVs, particularly as much of the space is taken up by the wheelchair entry route. This affects the number of passengers and how much luggage you can carry.
  • The smaller the vehicle, the smaller the doorways, which limits the size of wheelchair you can get in.
  • Lower vehicles have less headroom. This may still be a problem even if you can get inside and sit in the travelling position without ducking your head, because if your eyes are above the top of the windows you won't be able to see out comfortably. Apart from being unpleasant, this can make motion sickness worse. Some WAVs have lowered floors to solve this problem.



RiDC's car search has measurements of over 1400 standard vehicles - not specific WAV measurements.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products.

Last updated: August 2018

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