BraunAbility and Ford are taking wheelchair mobility to the next level of freedom and independence. Together, they’ve built the first ever customized, wheelchair-accessible SUV based on the Ford Explorer. And it’s no one-off, the SUV, dubbed the MXV, will be mass-produced starting in August.
BraunAbility is the world leader in wheelchair mobility. However, until now it has focused on making wheelchair-accessible minivans. The excitement of having an wheelchair-accessible SUV is that it will give wheelchair users that much more freedom with the added capabilities that come with a sports utility vehicle.
“For our first-ever wheelchair-accessible SUV, it was important we worked with the best. We wanted to create a vehicle that personifies freedom and independence, and the Ford Explorer provides the ultimate base to achieve that,” says Nick Gutwein, BraunAbility president and CEO.
It’s fitting that this is the year for the debut of this mobility advancing vehicle as the U.S. celebrates the 25th year of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To celebrate, the first production BraunAbility MXV is being donated to Mike Delancey. He’s a U.S. Marine who was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet while serving in Iraq in 2006.
Each MXV features BraunAbility’s special sliding-door technology along with a lighted in-floor ramp. The middle row of seats has been removed to make room for the wheelchair-accessible components. Both the driver seat and the passenger seat are removable. This gives wheelchair users plenty of options with the ability to either drive the vehicle, ride as a front passenger, or ride behind the front seats in the middle of the car.
“The MXV is a revolutionary vehicle, and we’re thrilled with Explorer’s role in helping bring it to market. For 25 years, the Explorer name has symbolized freedom and adventure, and the BraunAbility MXV adds another chapter to that story,” says Craig Patterson, Ford utility vehicle marketing manager.
The cabin is accessed through a side 28-inch wide ramp. Inside the design focuses on maximum comfort with plenty room for wheelchair navigation with a comfortable 56-inch cabin height. This allows it to provide easy accommodation for most power wheelchair models.
Under the hood, you get a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It offers a tow package with a maximum towing capacity of around 5,000 pounds. Efficiency is also achieved with an estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
The MXV begins official production next month at the BraunAbility manufacturing facility in Indiana. It will be available at the 200 countrywide U.S. BraunAbility dealerships early this fall.