Cirrus Plus EC is not an especially attractive chair, but conventionally designed and incredibly robust and useful.
Recommended For: Anyone up to 300 pounds who is unimpressed with scooter designs and more interested in a conventionally designed, battery-powered wheelchair.
*Note regarding Brand Reliability: This metric is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.
Are you nonplused by most of the scooter designs you see on the market but still interested in a battery-powered mobility aid, so you don’t have to tire yourself out getting where you want to go? If you answered yes to that question, then the Cirrus Plus power chair offered by Drive Medical might be just what you had in mind.
It’s a conventionally designed wheelchair. Of course, since it’s battery-powered, the rear wheels don’t have to be oversized like they are on the manual variety. Also, it’s offered by one of the biggest and best brands in the industry. If you decide this is the one you want, you can buy with confidence knowing that if there’s a problem, the company will take good care of you.
If you’re undecided, in the sections that follow here in our Drive Medical Cirrus Plus review, we’ll tell you everything this chair has to offer, and we’ll be quick to point out the areas where it doesn’t do so well. That way, you’ll have all the details at your fingertips and can make an informed buying decision.
Sounds good? If so, let’s jump right in and take a closer look.
An Overview of the Drive Medical Cirrus Plus EC Power Wheelchair
Well, it won’t win any beauty contests. That or something like it is likely to be the first thing that springs to mind when you see this chair initially. It’s a fair assessment. Compared to scooters, which tend to have racy, sporty designs, the Cirrus looks staid and perhaps even a bit clunky or cumbersome.
Then again, if you’re put off by the scooter designs, that might be just what you had in mind.
If you’re after something that puts more emphasis on function and pays relatively less attention to form, then the Cirrus has you covered, and then some.
Before we get into particulars in this section of our Drive Medical Cirrus Plus review, let’s start with a quick look at the core stats that define the model so we can get a better understanding of it. Here’s a quick overview:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 26” (W) x 42.5” (D) x 36” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 18” (W) x 16” (D) (Note: This chair is also available in 16,” 20,” and 22” seat widths, with the chair’s width dimension increasing or decreasing by the same number of inches as the seat size you select at the point of sale)
- Top Speed: 5 mph
- Maximum Range: 14 miles
- Wheel Size: 12.5” x 2.5.” (8” x 2” front casters)
- Maximum Climbing Angle: 6 degrees
- Ground Clearance: 4”
- Chair Weight: 146 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 300 pounds
These are generally good numbers, but there are a couple of potential problem areas here.
First, the speed isn’t bad for a non-scooter. It’s not what we’d call zippy, but in a conventionally designed power wheelchair, zippy probably isn’t what you’re after anyway.
The range is somewhat above average. Not great, but a range above average is still pretty good, and the ground clearance means you can make your way over a surprising array of terrains. It’s still not something you’d want to take on a hiking trail, but with care, you can navigate in and around your yard or the local park easily enough.
The seat dimensions are both very good and a bit puzzling. We love that Drive makes so many options available, but honestly, the real limiting factor here is the maximum supported user weight. If you need the 20” or 22” wide seat, then the odds are good that you’ll weigh more than the 300-pound limit supported by the chair, which makes those options something of a false choice. This chair would be even more useful if the frame were ruggedized when you ordered the wider seats, allowing the chair to support up to, say, 450 pounds in those cases.
And then there’s the weight.
This is a heavy chair.
Yes, it’s foldable, but that doesn’t really make it much more portable. At some point, someone is going to have to do some heavy lifting. We’ll have more to say about that later on. For now, just know that this chair isn’t as portable as you’re probably hoping it is.
Adjustability and Comfort
There’s a lot to like here, and we feel like Drive really pulled out all the stops. Although the seat height isn’t adjustable (it sits 18.5” off the ground), the padded armrests are height adjustable, as are the leg rests, which can be adjusted for length.
That gives you at least some flexibility to customize your seating experience, but it gets better.
The tension in the seatback can also be adjusted. This isn’t the same as having a reclining seat, but it does allow you to increase or decrease the amount of support that the seatback provides, which will enhance the overall comfort of the Drive Cirrus Plus EC.
In addition to all of that, this model’s swing-away, removable leg rests feature a calf strap that provides added support for your legs. No, it’s not as good as having a calf pad on each leg rest, but it’s not bad. The various elements included in this model make it a good choice if your plan is to spend the better part of each day in the chair.
The upholstery is breathable nylon, though. While it’s comfortable enough for short to medium durations, you’ll almost certainly want to invest in some additional padding if you do plan to spend most of each day in this chair.
The good news on that front is that there are a stunning variety of padding options available from a number of third-party vendors, so you can get everything from gel-pad seating to memory foam, depending on your tastes and preferences.
Extras and Options
The Drive Medical Cirrus Plus HD comes loaded with extras too, and we love that. First and foremost, you can specify which side you want the joystick controller will be mounted on when you place your order. Second, the Cirrus comes with a safety belt as a piece of standard equipment, which we’re very happy to see. Third, this model offers a generously sized built-in storage pocket located behind the seat.
Storage is something that many chairs skimp on or skip altogether, so we were thrilled to see its inclusion here. Even better, the storage space is quite roomy, so you likely won’t have to invest in any additional storage. Kudos to Drive for really delivering where the extras for this chair are concerned!
In addition to those items that come standard with the chair, Drive does make a number of enhancements for all the chairs they make. There are also innumerable options available from third parties that extend well beyond seat cushions. So, you’ve certainly got no shortage of options if you want to “pimp your ride”!
Portability & Ease of Use
Now let’s talk about portability because that’s something that the Drive Cirrus Plus folding power wheelchair really struggles with.
First and foremost, if you want to store this chair for transport, and you mean to fold it, then you’re going to have to remove the batteries.
They weigh upwards of sixty pounds, and there’s no way to make them lighter. Taking the batteries out of the chair still leaves you with a 90-odd pound piece of equipment that someone will have to lift to get it inside a trunk or in the back of an SUV, van, or other vehicle.
That’s work, but fortunately, there are a couple of ways around it.
First, you can invest in a ramp and ride your chair up the ramp and into a van or the back of a truck. Second, you can invest in some type of lift mechanism and simply tote this chair behind your vehicle after properly securing it.
Both are workable options. The addition of some extra tech definitely makes this chair a lot more travel-friendly, but there’s a catch: Lifts are expensive, and ramps require lots of additional room for storage.
In both cases, they increase the total cost of ownership of the chair.
So, ultimately, there’s a tough choice to make. Do you want easy and convenient travel? If so, that’s more expensive because you’ll need to buy some extra equipment.
Or, do you want to keep the total cost of owning this chair as low as possible? You can do that, but if so, it’s going to mean some brute force lifting when it comes time to move this chair from Point A to Point B.
Finally, we have to say a few words about air travel. Air travel is almost always an uphill battle with electric mobility aids. In the first place, batteries are fire hazards, and most airlines will give you a hard no right out the gate.
Even if they don’t, though, the second big hurdle you’ll face is the cost. Airlines charge by the pound. This is a super heavy chair. That means it’s going to be insanely expensive to fly with, even if you can find an airline that will let you.
If you have your heart set on it, by all means, call the airline you’re planning to fly with and ask what their policies are (each airline has its policies on what’s allowed and not), but don’t be surprised if they turn you down, flat.
Pros & Cons of Cirrus Plus EC
Despite being something of the ugly duckling of Drive’s battery-powered lineup, this is actually a rock-solid design with a lot going for it.
No, the Drive Medical Cirrus Plus folding power wheelchair is not going to win any beauty contests. And yes, there are some genuine challenges when it comes to traveling with this chair, but that’s true of most battery-powered mobility aids.
When you look past the aesthetics and the issues of portability, what you find is a robust, capable chair that is packed with extras, making it incredibly useful. That’s a good thing.
Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Review Conclusion
We don’t love the Cirrus, but we do like it very much. We believe here in our Drive Medical Cirrus Plus review that you’ll be impressed. We recommend this model.
References & Resources:
- Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Official Brand Website.
- Drive Medical Cirrus Plus User Manual.
- Wheelchairs on Planes: Why Can’t Passengers Use Their Own Onboard?, NPR.
- Wheelchair Users Face Barriers to Access, Damaged Equipment When Traveling, KU Life Span Institute.
- Air Travel Tips For People With Disabilities, Shirley Ryan Abilitylab.