Diane and Ken Hathway are the owners of a Brotherwood Kia Sorento WAV conversion, and share their experience of how they have found their new wheelchair accessible vehicle.
How did you first discover Brotherwood Automobility?
“On the internet some 2 years ago – when looking for wheelchair accessible vehicles for the first time after my wife had a severe stroke.
I had no knowledge of this type of vehicle and I looked on the internet at virtually every vehicle for sale in the UK and every web site selling wheelchair accessible vehicles both New and Used. A daunting task but very instructive for someone looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for the first time.
I had seen Brotherwoods’ advertisements and looked up the Brotherwood website for further information.”
Have you owned a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle previously?
“Yes, one – our first vehicle purchase was a 5 year old Kia Sedona. The Kia Sedona was rear loading and carried the wheelchair in the centre of the vehicle behind the driver and front passenger seats. We had this vehicle for about a year and whilst it was generally satisfactory as a mode of transport my wife Diane felt it restricted her view and she felt cut off from me, especially when there were just the two of us in the vehicle.”
What drew you to the Kia Sorento?
“Having researched the accessible vehicle market I came to the conclusion that vehicles available could be roughly classified into 3 types:-
Small – Generally with the wheelchair inboard behind the driver
Large - But Van like - with the wheelchair inboard behind the driver
Large - But Van like - with the wheelchair upfront next to the driver
Having been used to good quality cars such as Audis before my wife’s stroke I felt that some of these vehicles were acceptable, but were essentially modified van-like utility vehicles with little to offer in the way of looks or comfort, and lacking in features.
The Brotherwood converted Kia Sorento appealed greatly to us because it looked and felt like a modern good-looking 4x4 type vehicle, was more car like than van like, and had a good range of additional features. It was also rear loading, which is definitely the best loading configuration and securely housed the wheelchair passenger comfortably upfront next to the driver with an unrestricted forward view.”
What are your favourite features?
“The Brotherwood converted Kia Sorento is comfortable and very well equipped – our favourite features include :-
The floor lighting installation.
I requested this and understand that it was a modified version of the original Brotherwood floor lighting scheme. It works extremely well and is invaluable at night, especially if there is no local lighting. Well worth the additional cost and I would recommend it highly to other purchasers.
The PAWRS powered belt retractor system.
I normally load the wheelchair manually as this is easy to do using the rear ramp. However, when occasionally the vehicle has to be parked on an upslope it is not quite so easy and the powered system makes loading light work.
I am 73 and whilst I currently find it easy to load the wheelchair manually I am sure that the powered system will prove to be invaluable when I no longer feel able to load manually.
The Rear View Camera.
An invaluable aid that makes reversing out of parking bays (especially at supermarkets) easier and safer. It is accurate and easy to use.
The Quattro floor anchors, and securing strap system.
Very secure and reliable – they are easy to attach and detach.
The Satellite Navigation System.
We find this essential – especially when we go for long recreational drives around country lanes. It’s easy to use and very reliable.”
Is it easy to use and comfortable for you both?
“Yes - The converted Kia Sorento is very comfortable for both driver and wheelchair passenger and also our occasional rear folding seat passengers. It feels roomy and airy and it is very easy to load and secure the wheelchair.
It is comfortable to drive, easy to park and the vehicle height means you get excellent all round unrestricted views. The rear loading ramp access is much preferable to side access.
The folding rear seats are quick to deploy and easy to use and are surprisingly comfortable for passengers even on longer journeys. We have had no complaints!!”
How did you find Brotherwoods’ service?
“Dealing with Brotherwood was stress free and a pleasure from initial enquiry to final purchase and collection of the vehicle. The Sales staff were extremely helpful in making the right vehicle decisions and I never felt pressured to purchase at any time.
The demonstration service at home was invaluable – Being able to see the vehicle at our home, practice loading the wheelchair and driving the vehicle locally with the wheelchair aboard was essential in making the decision to purchase.
The demonstrator was very helpful, patient and knowledgeable. We were given ample time to examine the car, practice loading and unloading and test drive the car for as long as we needed, without any pressure.
Having ordered the vehicle we were kept up to date with its progress.
Collecting the vehicle was a revelation. The factory tour made me realise the full extent of the modification work involved in producing the converted vehicle. It was very reassuring to see the quality and workmanship involved in the conversion.
The handover was very thorough and I felt confident when I finally drove the vehicle away.
Overall all Brotherwood staff were extremely helpful and friendly.”
Would you recommend the Kia Sorento to others?
“Yes – It is well-equipped, easy to drive, economical and comfortable.
The conversion makes it very wheelchair friendly and secure and it is comfortable and feels safe for the wheelchair passenger.”
What do you typically use the the Sorento for?
“The Sorento is essential to our everyday life.
My wife is totally wheelchair bound and unable to walk. As such the Sorento is our only link with the world outside our home. The Sorento is used most days and without it my wife would be totally housebound.
Having it means we can do normal things together like shopping, going out for meals, visiting friends, recreational activities and simply driving around for pleasure.
It has become an essential part of our lives.”