I have had the van for a day and I thought I would pass along my first impressions as well as other thoughts.
Impression #1: The EZ-Lock system is easy to use and really secures the wheelchair into place. The dash mounted release button and warning signal is a good option. There is no guesswork as to whether your chair is locked into place and there is really no learning curve as to how to operate the system.
Impression #2: The Kneeling position of the VMI system is quite nice. Use it! The kneel position allows the entire vehicle to squat down thereby reducing the ramp angle.
Tip #1: Spend all the time you need when being fitted for the EZ-Lock system. The technicians were very patient and allowed me to try several different positions (where my wheelchair would be locked in) before securing the floor bracket. I started the van and turned the steering wheel left and right and used all the major functions around me (gear shift, A/C. etc.) to make certain I was comfortable steering and could reach everything. The extra time helped make the chair’s driving position a good fit.
Tip #2: Read the VMI manual. I know this is not easy for any man to do, but it is worth it. There is some excellent information that makes using the system easy.
Tip #3: Spend ample time trying out all the whistles and bells of the VMI and EZ-Lock systems as well as the van’s accessories before leaving the dealership. It might save some frustrations when you get home or on your first few trips.
Tip #4: Take a short test drive after everything is installed. This will make certain you are comfortable with the controls and position.
Lesson Learned #1: Look carefully before opening the side ramp. My wife was standing next to the passenger door (open) when I engaged the ramp. We learned right away that the ramp extends our of the floor regardless of what is in its way (my wife’s leg). This fortunately did not cause any harm, but it reminded us that we need to make certain no one is standing in front of that door when using the system.
Lesson Learned #2: Ask the technicians to show your wife how the floor straps work in case you need to tie-down your chair or something else heavy in the middle row or your wheelchair in the passenger seat position.
Tomorrow we take a four hour trip in the new van. I am certain I will come away with more tips and, hopefully, no more lessons learned.