Wheelchair Vans and Regular Vans: What’s the difference?


Regular vans come in many shapes and sizes, depending upon the need of the consumers, and it comes with the additional flexibility of being modified according to the requirements. These vans serve various purposes apart from being used as a means of transportation for personal use by families. 

So to make the right decision for your personal use, business, individuals, and organizations should consider the following guide of diverse types of van available. 

Panel van: This type of van comes without any rear or side windows, usually used by traders to move around. Wheelbases, along with the headroom of the storage, can be altered according to the preference. 

Crew van: this van can carry more passengers as it has a second row of seating in the back area. This eliminates the storage or cargo area, but a larger crew can travel around. 

Minibuses: it can sustain around 7-14 passengers and is suitable for school pick and drop service as it has no storage area. Its main purpose is to transport people around. 

Chassis van: it’s a convertible van with a cabin area and a ladder chassis. These can be converted into an ice-cream truck using a box or a container to fill the chassis. Since it can be converted into various forms, it can be a good start if an individual is initially unsure of the van’s purpose; it can provide many options. 

Drop-side van: The chassis van is expanded as the ladder chassis is filled with a flat slab used to carry storage around. 

Tipper: It has the same flatbed fitted on its chassis, but its feature to drop-down material differs. The flatbed rises from the front end to deposit the materials in the area required. 

Luton van: It can withhold a larger load capacity as the storage area is expanded. It is wider than a panel van, and due to its tall cargo area, bulkier and huge parcels can easily fit in. 

Pick-up van: it is built for an off the road experience in rough areas. It has two or four-wheel drive, making it possible to run through the ice or heavy snow. It has an open storage space in the back behind the cab. 

If you want to know what to consider when buying one, check out our guide 

Convertible regular vans

Regular vans can be converted into various ways to meet the needs of a business. A prime example would be handicap vans and refrigerated vans.

Refrigerated vans are exactly how they sound, and vans are installed with a refrigerator in them. These features distinguish them from a regular van as it is used to keep things cool and fresh at different temperatures. Selecting the right type of refrigerated van can prove to be more cost-effective and less time-consuming. It would help if you initially thought about what you or your business will require a refrigerated van for. This will give you the knowledge to select an ideal van with varying temperatures based on the time you plan to store the items. 

Want to know more about refrigerated vans and their uses? Check out our guide Types of Refrigerated Van and Their Uses

And if you’re wondering what to consider when buying one, check out our guide 4 Things to Consider While Buying a Refrigerated Van

Handicap vans 

It is just like any other regular van but with different properties. It is understood that people with different disabilities might require different features for their van. So handicap van serves for one main purpose while regular vans can be used for many. 

Seats are modified to make space while the van’s floor is lowered to make an easier passage for the wheelchair. 

A few vans have a rear section for wheelchairs, which is simpler than a side-passage as no additional room change is required. At times the side doors of handicap vans are arranged to incorporate a slope for a wheelchair to enter the vehicle from the side.

It all also depends if the disabled person chooses to drive from the wheelchair or wishes to sit upfront.

These vans have two types of ramps, a manual ramp or a motorized one, which comes in two styles. A fold-up ramp is installed in a vertical position near the doors; it is more durable and strong to carry the weight of a wheelchair. Whereas in-floor ramp takes less room as they are installed on the floor of the van. 

The distinction between the features of Regular Vans and Wheelchair Vans

Regular Vans 

Wheelchair Vans 

Size depends on the storage space required.

Size depends on comfort and safety. 

Flexible customization.

Specific Customization.

Economical prices.


Regular entryway.

Rear or side entryway.

A rear camera can be an option.

A rear camera is a must.

Aesthetic changes can be made.

Changes aren’t aesthetic.

Drivers need no extra features.

Drivers need additional features.

No ramps are required. 

Fold-out and in-floor ramps are used for the entryway.

The differences between a Regular Van and a Handicap Van 

As mentioned in the table above, we will be discussing the various features that distinguish a regular van from a wheelchair van in detail. 


 The size of the van matters a lot when it comes to the comfort and safety of the passengers. A sizeable handicap van should have wide enough ramps for the wheelchair to enter and exit safely. The headroom needs to be spacious to avoid hitting the roof. 

Sizes in regular vans differ according to the requirement of the storage space. Regular vans require a lift and give somewhat more space to move about.


Handicap van requires specific customization that revolves around the functions of a wheelchair. These extra additions can include wheelchair securement choices, hand controls, adjustable seats, remote with emergency controls, underlying showcases, and additional space customized for equipment like an oxygen tank.

On the other hand, regular vans have flexible customization as they can convert their vans into various forms without sticking to just one aspect of a wheelchair. 


Wheelchair vans can be an expensive investment as the additional safety and comfort features come at a heavy price. 

Regular vans have economical prices as they have a greater demand and do not cater to specific needs. 


Wheelchair vans have two kinds of entryways, rear door and side door using ramps. Rear passage vehicles limit an individual in a wheelchair to the seating columns behind the driver seat. But with a side entryway, an individual in a wheelchair can get access to the driving seat. 

Regular vans have different kinds of doors that can be accessed without needing a ramp. 

Rear camera 

It is an essential feature for the wheelchair van as it prevents accidents. Also, people suffering from spinal cord injuries can access the back view without having to turn around. It can also help in parallel parking if one has a van with side entryways.

The rear camera is an optional feature for regular vans.

Additional features for the driver

Wheelchair driver needs to have a van with side entryway to move in and out. Different controls are added to assist with driving; this can include hand controls and auto-pilot mode. 

No added features are required for regular vans. 


There are two types of ramps, fold-out and an in-floor ramp. A fold-out ramp is used in the van with the rear entryway to access the slope if the cars are parked closely easily. While an in-floor ramp is used in the van with a side entryway, making the sitting area more spacious as it consumes lesser space. 

Regular vans don’t have ramps.  


To sum up, there are various ways a van can be converted or customized to meet the needs of the consumers. These include the size, customization, pricing strategies, entryway, rear camera, ramps and additional features for the driver. Features of a regular van differ from that of a wheelchair van. Regular vans can be modified to create aesthetic changes to the interior, whereas accommodation of a wheelchair van outweighs their aesthetic appeal. 

So all of this has been about the differences between regular vans and handicapped vans. What about how to drive them safely? Check out our safety guide How to Drive a Van Safely.

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