I have always felt that the Kia Sedona had the potential to provide the right kind of space for a driver, or passenger, with a disability - yet somehow it always seems to miss the mark: the internal height is too low to transport someone in their wheelchair, unless the floor is lowered (but that comes at a price and is not available in SA); the electronic sliding door, a stunning feature for ease of access, is a bit narrow for loading larger wheelchairs; and the driver's seat is a bit high, unless you have areally strong transfer. But now, with some clever engineering, the Sedona has provided a perfect solution.

Alan Lewis spotted the potential of the Sedona and was able to use its features to provide the solution he was looking for. Alan has an undiagnosed neuropathy. In about 1992 he started to slowly lose function, but the medical profession could not explain why. He travelled the world to find medical experts who might be able to give him an answer about what was happening to his body, but without success. It was eventually the head of neurology at Pretoria Academic Hospital who was able to stop his degeneration, but by this stage the nerves in his feet had already died, and he was no longer able to walk - they still cannot explain what caused it.

As the owner of Stagecraft, Alan's job requires him to be out and about, covering a lot over different surfaces and gradients whilst setting up and managing events, and he needs to be in a number of places at the same time! He decided on a power wheelchair as this gives him the speed and mobility needed for his demanding job.

Power wheelchairs come with the problem of transporting them. Alan bought a 2008 Sedona and fitted a hoist that lifted his wheelchair into the ample boot space at the back of the car. But this left him dependent on others to load it for him, as he was unable to getfrom the back of the car to the driver's seat.

Alan needed a better solution! Heand Daniel, from Shoprider, put their heads together and figured out a solution where the hoist could deliver his wheelchair to the driver's door.

This is not an option for everybody! Alan has good balance and is able to reach back to his wheelchair,to guide it through the door, and then manoeuvre it into position for histransfer. He is also able to do a standing transfer. The height of the driver’sseat, at 78cm above the ground at its lowest position, provides a challengingtransfer for anyone dependant on a sitting transfer.

Kia SA have discontinued the old models of Sedona and recently launched the new model, the 2.2 CRDi. It is only available in a 6-speed automatic, turbo-diesel and with a short wheel base, losing the lovely boot space behind the rear seats. It still has three rows of seats, making it a 7-seater. The rear seats are very versatile in their ability to fold and can be easily removed so, with the rear row of seats removed, there is still plenty of space for a wheelchair.

The new diesel motor has an excellent fuel consumption of 7.4l/100km (combined around town and open road), impressive for an automatic vehicle of this size.

The Sedona has heaps of great features for a driver with a disability, all thrown in as part of the standard package. Electronically adjustable driver seat height and angle adjustments, as well as range of 22cm forwards and backwards; even the front passenger seat is electrically adjustable and, as the adjustment controls are positioned on the door, they are easy to reach.

The cruise control and built in armrests are great features to prevent shoulder fatigue when driving with hand controls. The automatic climate control has three zones to accommodate driverneeds vs passengers at the back. Rain sensing wipers, automatic light control and remote steering controls make driving with your hands much easier, as it reduces the number of times you have to remove your hands from the controls. The rear view camera and park assist compensate for limited mobility and remove the need to peer over your shoulder. It has a foot operated park brake, requiring an additional hand control conversion for anyone driving without the use of their legs.

Nearly every comfort, safety andease of driving feature has been thrown into this package - the only optionalchoice is whether you want metallic paint! On the new model, the power sliding door and tailgate are also included in the package - unfortunately this convenience comes with a compromise - the sliding door does not open fully and reducesthe width of the door opening by 10cm. This is enough to limit the ability of getting electric wheelchairs through the door to provide Alan's solution. This automated feature would have to be removed to enable the door to open fully to get a wheelchair through at the angle required to position it next to the driver's door. Alan's 2008 model does not have the electric doors, which makes them wide enough (with 1cm to spare on each side) for the wheelchair to passt hrough. To close the doors, he has developed his own control system- it iscalled "hooking it with a walking stick!"

The retail price of the new Sedona2.2 CRDi is R 368,416.67 excl. VAT -  and here is the exciting news - the retail price for anyone who qualifies for the disability rebate is R290,076.62 excl. VAT  - a very significant discount!