Mobility Ventures MV-1, Review, Some of the best automobiles on the market are developed having a specific purpose in mind. A Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 can outrun some supercars on a road-racing course. A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon can conquer off-road obstacles that would defeat most other vehicles. A Kenworth W900 can rack up millions of miles dragging 40 tons of payload across interstates for months on end. A Ford Transit van may be outfitted to comfortably haul every thing from a dozen individuals to thousands of Matchbox models of itself.
Mobility Ventures MV-1 Car and Driver Review
Similarly, the Mobility Ventures MV-1 is devoted to 1 objective, at which it excels. As the only purpose-built wheelchair-accessible vehicle around the marketplace these days, it's extremely beneficial to its customers. Other wheelchair-accessible light-duty vehicles are usually minivans or vans heavily modified by aftermarket companies, but the MV-1 was developed from the ground up with its main purpose in clear concentrate. As such, it is subjected towards the exact same standardized crash tests needed of all conventional production vehicles (compared with fewer, chosen tests for modified wheelchair-friendly automobiles), and it comes having a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.
A five-year, 60,000-mile warranty covers the MV-1’s most important feature-a 30-inch-wide ramp that extends from the vehicle’s passenger side. The MV-1 we sampled had the available power-operated ramp, activated via buttons both inside the vehicle and on the important fob. The well-illuminated ramp can deploy to either 69.five or 92.three inches deep, based on user preference, and retracts into a totally enclosed pocket within the floor from the car. The short-ramp mode makes the incline steeper but is critical for the wheelchair user in regular handicapped parking spaces; even then, there may be barely sufficient room for the wheelchair to turn the corner if there’s a vehicle parked in the adjacent spot.
We enlisted this author’s mother-a wheelchair user who usually travels in a rear-ramp Chrysler Town & Country converted by BraunAbility-to help us test the MV-1. Many converted minivans use a side-ramp setup like the MV-1’s, but these tend to compromise the donor vehicle’s structure and diminish ground clearance. Since the MV-1 isn’t also trying to be a minivan, its floorpan and suspension don’t have to be re-engineered for wheelchair access. It offers six inches of ground clearance and a conveniently low step-in height. Importantly, unlike many competitor automobiles, the MV-1 allows the wheelchair to be secured in the shotgun position. It has been years since Mom last rode within the front of a car, and she greatly appreciated the view.
Mobility Ventures MV-1 Car and Driver Review - Interior:
Unfortunately, the footrest on her wheelchair interfered with the front Q’Straint floor anchors (four of which conveniently secure the wheelchair towards the car) such that she couldn’t pull far sufficient forward to allow the MV-1’s B-pillar-mounted integral shoulder belt to fit as snugly as it should have. Belting her in with the distant C-pillar belt or raising her footrest could have remedied this-and made her crabby-but the best solution for an MV-1 owner may be to fine-tune the wheelchair’s orientation by installing a single-point docking station, a setup that’s similar to a big rig’s trailer hitch and would help ensure consistent wheelchair positioning for every journey. (Conversions that allow the wheelchair user to transfer into the MV-1 driver’s seat also are available.) It must be noted that mobility aids such as wheelchairs and scooters come in as many sizes because the humans they help.
Production of the MV-1 began in late 2011 at an AM General facility in Indiana under the auspices of a company called Car Production Group (which received $50 million in the U.S. Department of Energy around the same time that businesses such as Tesla and Fisker got similar government loans). By 2013, when VPG became insolvent, AM General took over the operation and restarted production in 2014 under the nascent Mobility Ventures brand. The company now builds about 2000 MV-1s annually within the exact same factory that makes Mercedes-Benz R-class SUVs for China. Fleet buyers are responsible for about 60 percent of MV-1 sales, and most of those go to taxi businesses, which are wise to operate a diverse fleet. You’re most likely to have seen an MV-1 inside a big city-and perhaps you wondered aloud, “Who overinflated that Honda Element?”
Indeed, the MV-1’s styling is jarring, but its extreme boxiness enables the wide-open interior that makes it possible for a wheelchair to make a 90-degree right turn to occupy the space where most vans have a regular passenger seat. There’s space for a second wheelchair within the MV-1’s large midsection, too, but two power-operated chairs like Mom’s wouldn’t fit at the same time. The MV-1 also has a wide three-place rear bench, although its cushion is so high that some of our adult passengers couldn’t touch their feet to the floor. No rear-seat occupant will ever kick the back from the driver’s seat, so far apart are the two rows, and it can be difficult to hear what those distant rear passengers have to say over the din of this large, boxy vehicle that lacks interior carpeting. Like a proper taxicab, the MV-1 offers an optional jump seat that may be tacked onto the back from the driver’s seat. A few folding wheelchairs easily can be stashed in the 36-cubic-foot cargo area, and the MV-1 even has a 3000-pound towing capacity.
The MV-1 starts at $40,890, not such as a radio or cruise control. For a base cost of $51,065, the mid-level DX, like our test car, adds those basics plus the slick power ramp supplied by ASC, the business that paired with McLaren to assist create the 1980s Buick GNX. A 30-year-old Buick might appear nicer than the top-of-the-line $58,085 MV-1 LX, which gets cosmetic alterations (notice that we didn’t say upgrades) such as a different grille, aluminum wheels, and faux-wood interior appliqués. No MV-1 is affordable, but brand-new minivans converted for wheelchair compatibility generally begin within the low-$30,000 variety and can exceed $60,000. Many have awkward-looking styling, but even elemental cargo vans have much more attractive cabins and instrument panels than the MV-1’s.
Surely the Mobility Ventures MV-1 would cost even more-or not exist at all-if the company didn’t supply many components from other automakers. Most notably, the three.7-liter V-6 engine and also the six-speed automatic transmission come straight from Ford’s components bin circa 2010, although the engine’s output ratings match these of today’s Ford Transit van. Ford also provides most of the suspension architecture as well because the interior switchgear, in the power-window toggles to the steering column. (Earlier MV-1s used Ford’s old taxi-tastic four.6-liter V-8.) Chevrolet contributes a Camaro differential and rear brakes in the long-discontinued Uplander minivan. The center stack, which consists of few if any Ford pieces, appears especially unfinished and haphazardly designed. The horribly outdated aftermarket radio head unit-a 7.0-inch touchscreen that brings a rudimentary navigation method for $1095-displayed upside-down pictures from the backup camera on numerous occasions during our two weeks using the MV-1.
Mobility Ventures MV-1 Car and Driver Review - Features:
We've other complaints. The powertrain transmits an unpleasant abundance of driveline noise in to the cabin. When the V-6 is below load, it sounds as though the engine is about to ingest the driver’s feet, although some folks thought the exhaust note sounded nicely throaty. We intended to produce a complete report including performance-testing information around the MV-1, but a coolant hose came off at the test track and suspended our testing regimen. Suffice it to say that Mobility Ventures’ item is slow and loud. It is also thirsty-we averaged 15 mpg more than about 1000 miles.
Piloting the MV-1 feels a lot like driving an old-school full-size van, albeit 1 having a longer hood. The driving position is upright and chairlike, and the seat is widely adjustable for height; sadly, there’s no grab deal with to help the driver with ingress or egress, which appears particularly inexcusable in a car designed to serve people with mobility issues. The steering feels heavy and imprecise, and also the body leans and pitches precariously throughout even moderate cornering and braking workouts. Rough roads reveal a stiff suspension that shakes rear-seat occupants in particular. The auxiliary air conditioner (mounted on the ceiling close to the hatch hinges) inhibits rearward visibility, but the view in all other directions is quite great, due to an expansive greenhouse. The tight-for-its-size 43-foot turning circle would allow easy parking-lot maneuvering, if only the steering wheel self-centered.
Bear in mind, though, that converted vans and minivans also possess atypical, uninspiring driving dynamics. Their supplementary ramps add mass that impedes acceleration and adversely impacts ride and handling; in addition to ground-clearance issues, aftermarket ramps often offer conduits to transmit noises that the original maker had tuned out. To its credit-and true to its dual objective as a taxicab-the body-on-frame MV-1 tends to become notably much more durable than its converted-minivan rivals.
Wheelchair-accessible automobiles are crucial tools for a lot of millions of Americans, and also the MV-1 occupies a unique location in the marketplace. We applaud its suitability to that particular mission but want it did a much better job of providing its occupants the comfort-and a minimum of a somewhat attractive driving experience-that those of us who don’t need wheelchairs appreciate in other vehicles at this price.