Indiana-based wheelchair mobility specialist BraunAbility and Ford will be showing a wheelchair-accessible Explorer at this week's Chicago Auto Show. Called the Explorer MXV, the conversion is meant to put the comfort of a wheelchair-accessible van into the rugged, capable hands of an SUV.
Ford touts the vehicle as the "world's first wheelchair-accessible SUV," which is misleading because there are other conversion shops out there offering wheelchair-accessible SUVs based on models like the Chevy Suburban. Ford qualifies its claim by calling the MXV the "world's only volume-production wheelchair-accessible SUV," so maybe that's its real claim to fame.
Whatever its place in the timeline of wheelchair-accessible SUVs, the BraunAbility MXV is an accessible package for the 2016 Explorer. It includes a 55-in (140-cm) sliding door entry with powered, lighted in-floor ramp and removable driver and passenger seats. The door and ramp can be activated via key fob.
BraunAbility also reworks the interior around wheelchair use. The gear shifter slides left and right to accommodate a wheelchair user in either the driver or front passenger position. The modified front seat base allows a wheelchair passenger to swivel his or her feet below the seat back when getting in.
BraunAbility chose the Explorer after looking at other available SUV options and introduced the MXV last year. It builds the 3.5-liter V6-powered accessible SUV at its manufacturing facility in Winamac, Indiana and sells it through its 200-dealership network.
Ford will be showing the Explorer MXV at this week's Chicago Auto Show, which opens to the public on Saturday.