PHOENIX--Consumers, able-bodied or not, prefer SUVs to minivans at a rate of more than 6:1 based on annual automotive sales reported in the Wall Street Journal. “One of VMI’s core values is to never forget the challenges faced by our customers,” said Tim Barone, CEO of Vantage Mobility International (VMI). “When we started to explore the possibility of converting an SUV, our core value remained the focal point of our mission as we spoke with wheelchair users and their families to understand their wants and needs.” He continued, “We started with people who wanted an accessible SUV, but couldn’t find one that met their needs. During our research, we consistently received feedback that an SUV meant more than style. It meant normalcy. We learned that an SUV itself isn’t enough. The right SUV must have the physical design and practical space to meet our consumers’ specific demands.
“The introduction of the VMI Honda Pilot Northstar E™ accessible SUV with its innovative manual in-floor ramp offers the perfect combination of simplicity, space and style at a great price,” Barone said. Customers looking for a caregiver vehicle that offers accessibility and sweet style will find this vehicle delivers exceptional wheelchair maneuverability and room for the family. It’s equipped with practical features that put the “utility” in an SUV, such as a ramp that’s easily stowed out of the way, a removable front passenger seat for greater seating flexibility, and plenty of usable storage.
Built into this new SUV from VMI is its exclusive Access360® which sets a new standard for generous wheelchair space and maneuverability. “VMI’s Honda Pilot Northstar E™ SUV boasts more space for large power chairs to enter the vehicle and maneuver comfortably, more flexibility with a removable front seat and confidence that it will deliver a superior experience,” said Barone. VMI’s stated unique features of the product include:
- Expansive door opening width (33.5”) and door height (55.5”) to make entry and exit easy.
- An in-floor ramp which is stowed within the vehicle floor with no squeaking or rattling – keeping dirt and debris out of the vehicle cabin.
- A wide (32”) durable ramp to accommodate large power wheelchairs.
- Flexible seating lets the wheelchair user sit in the front passenger position or the spacious mid row.
- An obstruction-free doorway for safe entry and exit without having to deploy the ramp for able-bodied passengers.
- Overhead and added floor and door lighting making wheelchair securement easier in lowlight conditions.
- A rear bench footrest that’s easy to use and offers additional comfort for passengers seated on the rear bench.
- An extra cargo storage area conveniently incorporated below the rear bench seat.
- 100% crash tested to all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards governed by NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration)
Vantage Mobility International (VMI) is a leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles built on Toyota, Honda, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) chassis. The company has advanced the mobility industry for 30 years with a robust portfolio of minivan and SUV conversions as well as platform lifts. VMI, based in Phoenix, Arizona, has been awarded the prestigious Toyota Gold Certificate for Quality and its manufacturing facility utilizes Six Sigma techniques to employ continuous process improvements and deliver high-quality products for personal use and commercial applications.