After the company behind it failed last year, the MV-1 — the van made for people with disabilities — is back under management by AM General. But what's it like to actually drive one? Opponaut macanamera will tell you all about it.
-Every picture in this post is taken with an iPhone. GF Williams I am not.
-The company I work for owns a few of these vehicles for accessible transportation purposes. I do not drive them myself. I have however, driven them, because what kind of a person would I be if I had the keys to these things and did not hoo...I mean, drive. Slowly.
-We were an early adopter of the MV-1. I am sure (probably) that build quality and possibly some tech has improved since these earlier models.
-When I leave something out of this post, which I assuredly will, just ask and I’ll answer.
-I’m going to use Jalopnik’s categories in the review, but there will be no number scores. Because what in the hell am I comparing it to?
First, let’s go over the dimensions. Make no mistake, this thing is huge, and it drives huge. Driving one is intimidating at first, although short overhangs on both the front and rear make it less of a handful than you might imagine. Now, I don’t have too much experience driving them myself, other than taking one to the occasional car wash (REMOVE THE ANTENNA!), or taking one out for *ahem * testing purposes. I don’t drive large vehicles as my occupation, so keep that in mind.
When I say this thing is big as hell, I mean compared to cars, not E-series commercial vans. In any case, it is not small. Rear visibility is good enough for something of it’s size, and, yeah. Here is an extremely useful picture of my thumb on a taillight, to give you an idea of scale:
The interior of this car is made from plastic. All of it. No, really, you would be hard pressed to find something in the cabin not made of plastic (okay, windshield)(okay, 12v outlet contacts). Otherwise, everything is made from the sorts of ubiquitous plastics that generally fill commercial vehicles. The flooring is made of pretty much the same textured plastic that lines the floor of P71 Police Interceptors:
That’s a good thing, because those P71’s are designed to have durable interiors, which means the MV-1 should be durable too.
Now, I said this thing was big outside, and it’s big inside too. Like, cavernous. There are hardpoints on the floor for wheelchairs, both where the front seat would be and in the main middle area. Build quality of the interior is so-so, with some squeaky panels and such. They haven’t been making these for very long, so that’s understandable. The driver’s seat is a bus-driver style up-and-down adjustable. The pedals are also adjustable.
The back seats are, you guessed it, plastic, of the tough industrial type that doesn’t even try to be faux-leather. This thing is roomy. I can’t stress that enough:
There is also a pretty cool jump seat attached to the back of the driver’s seat, you can see it unopened in the first interior shot.
It accelerates. Slowly.
But seriously, it’s a heavy car. That 4.6L wasn’t very athletic to begin with, and it hasn’t gotten any younger. That being said, it’s reliable and cheap to fix, the two most important aspects of a motor for a commercial vehicle. The motor is absolutely buried in the engine compartment. Like, when you open the hood, you have a solid 1.5 feet of downward vertical empty area until you hit engine:
There isn’t much else to say about that. Did you think it was going to be fast?
It has brakes. When you push them, the MV-1 stops.
Unrefined and commercial, but not punishing. The suspension is beefy:
I should also make note that it is surprisingly quiet inside for a car which I am sure has very minimal amounts of noise insulation.
Well, it’s huge, heavy, has a high center of gravity, and is basically a commercial vehicle. Anything that sentence didn’t tell you, this picture will:
Yeah. No McLaren P1, this.
It has one. Column shifter.
Navigation. Bang and Olufsen stereo. Seat massagers. Heads Up Display.
These are all things the MV-1 does not have. The only thing I could possibly even call a toy* is the trick two-stage wheelchair ramp, which I will touch on later. (* not a toy)
Before someone says HEY THAT VOLUME KNOB LOOKS METAL, no, it’s plastic. Also, there is a button that says TCS off. I have no idea what this button does. I swear.
There is a stereo with, I think, 4 speakers. Two in the way front, two in the way back. Which means that if you are in the front, the front two speakers will be all you hear. If you are in the back, the back two speakers will be all you hear. If you are in the middle, you won’t hear much.
The engine sounds like a Crown Vic or P71, but with slightly less noise insulation. That’s not to say it sounds good. It doesn’t. But, it isn’t loud enough to bother you. Quieter than I thought it would be.
Ready for this? Fantastic. I mean, the trick wheelchair ramp, along with the mounting hardpoints inside, and the basketball court-sized interior make this thing better than pretty much anything else as far as accessible transportation goes. The ramp has two modes: short and long. These modes are exactly what they sound like. I had a video of ramp operation, but couldn’t figure out how to post it. In any case, the ramp opens/closes in a matter of seconds, electronically, to the length you have selected. Cool. It is completely integrated into the floor of the vehicle. It’s almost like it comes out of nowhere:
Actually, very good. These things are purpose-built. I don’t want people to think this is an overall negative review. It’s not. The MV-1 does what it was made to do, better than almost anything else. Furthermore, it is comparable in price to a wheelchair-converted Sienna or the like, and has far more utility. For about 50k, I think there is a strong argument to be made for value.