Wheelchair mobility enters the SUV category

Traditionally, if you needed a vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair, you had two options: a full-size van or minivan. Thankfully those days are over. Mobility outfitter BraunAbility, along with Ford, have come together to offer this, the BraunAbility MXV. It’s based on the current Ford Explorer and offers all modern accessibility features, along with the go-anywhere capability and popular styling of the Explorer.

"We’re thrilled the Explorer name is connected to such a highly respected brand like BraunAbility," said Omar Odeh, Ford marketing manager. "Explorer has always been associated with helping people go places they otherwise could not, and BraunAbility MXV furthers that reputation."

BraunAbility modifies the Explorer’s floor, removes the second-row seats, and creates a proprietary swinging rear door. A low floor height allows for a narrow ramp angle for easy entry and exit, while a customizable floor allows for different seating configurations. Wheelchair users are able to either ride or drive the BraunAbility MXV. The Explorer’s controls can be modified, including a sliding feature for the gear selector.

What’s more, the key fob controls the swinging rear door and ramp for easy access. The Explorer’s 5,000-pound towing capacity remains, giving further utility beyond the typical minivan.

The BraunAbility MXV upfit is available with the Explorer’s Base, XLT, and Limited trim levels, giving customers a wide range of features and pricing. It comes powered by the 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and sending power to the front wheels, the Explorer carries an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined.

The BraunAbility MXV is produced at BraunAbility’s facility in Winamac, Indiana and is sold at more than 200 dealers across the U.S.

Updated 02/12/2016: We added a series of new images of the new BraunAbility MXV taken during its official unveiling at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show. Check them out in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford BraunAbility MXV.

What makes the Ford BraunAbility MXV special

The BraunAbility MXV is the first wheelchair-accessible SUV produced in mass. This gives wheelchair uses a completely new vehicle segment to choose from when considering a purchase.

2016 Ford BraunAbility MXV High Resolution Exterior
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The major differences between a stock Explorer and the BraunAbility MXV is the floor configuration, missing second-row seats and front center console, and the swinging rear passenger door. The lowered and flattened load floor gives wheelchair users easy access and maneuverability within the Explorer. The seats can be moved around, depending on who is driving. The gear selector, normally located on the center console, is relocated to an adjustable mount that hangs off the lower dashboard.

The Explorer’s third row seats are still in place, giving seating for two extra passengers. Including the wheelchair user, the Explorer will seat four. Fitted with the remote key fob and power-operated door and ramp, wheelchair users don’t have to rely on someone to open the door or fold the ramp – it’s all done electronically.

2016 Ford BraunAbility MXV High Resolution Exterior
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Once the side door is closed, the Explorer mostly keeps its stock looks, save for an extended black skirt at the rocker panel. The Explorer’s drivetrain remains intact, though the BraunAbility MXV can only be had in front-wheel drive due to the lowered floor.

All told, the BraunAbility MXV plenty of features and amenities for wheelchair users and their families, all wrapped in the trendy styling of an SUV.

2016 Ford Explorer

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Explorer here.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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Press Release

The world’s best-selling SUV for 25 years is now the world’s only volume-production wheelchair-accessible SUV.

Ford Motor Company and BraunAbility have joined forces to create BraunAbility MXV™ – a wheelchair-accessible SUV that gives wheelchair users the quality and dependability of a BraunAbility mobility vehicle, and the adventurous, "unstoppable" spirit of an Explorer.

"We’re thrilled the Explorer name is connected to such a highly respected brand like BraunAbility," said Omar Odeh, Ford marketing manager. "Explorer has always been associated with helping people go places they otherwise could not, and BraunAbility MXV furthers that reputation."

BraunAbility MXV – available with Explorer base, XLT and Limited models – features patented sliding-door technology, removable driver and passenger seats, and a powered, lighted in-floor ramp. A sliding shifter and front seat base design provide for increased space, while an integrated key fob operates both door and ramp. There’s also an available tow package.

Interior space is maximized to create ample room for wheelchair navigation and comfort. Wheelchair users can drive the vehicle from a wheelchair or ride as a passenger. Notable dimensions include:

55-inch usable side door opening height
28 1/2-inch usable ramp width
58-inch interior height (vehicle center)
59-inch interior height (for driver and passenger)
55-inch interior floor length behind front seats
59 1/2-inch interior width at B-pillar

"Our customers are very excited to have a mobility option that reflects their individuality," said Nick Gutwein, BraunAbility president and CEO. "For us, Ford Explorer was the obvious choice. It’s an iconic American vehicle that reflects the ultimate in independence and freedom."

Featuring a 3.5-liter V6 engine, BraunAbility MXV delivers the performance and capability Explorer drivers have embraced for years, including an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined rating. Actual mileage will vary. MXV also delivers an estimated 5,000-pound maximum tow capacity.

BraunAbility MXV is produced at BraunAbility’s 170,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Winamac, Indiana. It is sold at more than 200 authorized dealers throughout the United States.

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