The Panther scooter is an even bigger, more robust and more capable machine than the Phoenix HD, also offered by Drive Medical. This is a superb model.
Recommended For: Anyone weighing up to 425 pounds – if you can afford it.
*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.
Do you have money to spend on a heavy-duty, high-quality mobility scooter? Are you looking for something that’s robust and capable, offered by a great company, and that offers tons of customization options?
If you answered yes to the questions above, then get ready for a treat. The Panther HD, offered by Drive Medical, checks all of those boxes and more.
If this model has one potential drawback, it is that it’s one of the more expensive scooter options available. Then again, it’s offered by one of the biggest and best names in the business; a company with a reputation for quality and a stellar record of post-sales customer service and support.
In the sections that follow here in our Panther scooter review, we’ll dive deep into this model’s capabilities and tell you everything it has to offer, and we’ll be forthright about the Panther’s limitations. That way, you’ll have everything you need to decide for yourself if this is the model you’ve been searching for. If that sounds good to you, read on, and let’s take a closer look!
An Overview of the Drive Medical Panther Scooter
The first thing to talk about in this section of our Panther scooter review is that this is a large, imposing machine, and it definitely makes an impression. Clad in bold red and black, it cuts an impressive figure, looking less like a scooter and more like a miniaturized ATV. It definitely looks rough and ready to take you pretty much anywhere you’d like to go.
Before we start talking about the specific features on offer here, let’s take a moment to review the basic stats of the Panther so we can get a better sense of what we’re dealing with here:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 26” (W) x 56” (D) x 53” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 20” (W) x 20” (D) or 22” (W) x 20” (D) (make your selection at the point of sale)
- Top Speed: 8 mph
- Maximum Range: 25 miles
- Wheel Size: 14” x 4.”
- Maximum Climbing Angle: 7.5 degrees
- Turning Radius: 53.”
- Ground Clearance: 4.”
- Chair Weight: 145 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 425 pounds
These numbers are impressive across the board. The Drive Panther scooter lives up to its name, offering a fairly zippy top speed of 8 miles an hour with a range the company estimates at 25 miles. Note that customers consistently report less range than this, in the area of 15-20 miles, but that’s still pretty good.
The wheels are relatively large, and the unit offers 4” of ground clearance. While that’s certainly not high enough to take it off-roading and into the roughest of terrain, it’s certainly enough for most everyday uses.
Even better, it lives up to its “HD” designation and is capable of supporting up to 425 pounds of user weight. That, combined with its large Captain’s style seat, makes it useful for just about everybody who might be in the market for a mobility aid like this.
All of this comes with a tradeoff, however. This unit doesn’t win high marks for portability. Unlike many of the other models Drive offers, this one doesn’t break into a number of relatively lightweight pieces, though the seat is removable, which makes traveling with it a bit of a challenge.
We’ll have more to say about that later. For now, just be aware that portability isn’t this model’s strong suit.
The final thing to talk about before we leave this section is the Panther’s turning radius. At 53,” it’s not as bad as we were expecting, and in fact, is on par with many of Drive’s smaller scooter models.
Granted, this isn’t the kind of machine you can ride around your house in, but its no-skid tires should make it possible to take it into shopping centers without getting disapproving looks from store clerks and management. Even so, this unit was clearly meant to be mostly used in the great outdoors, and that is, in fact, where it excels.
Adjustability and Comfort
The Drive Medical Panther mobility scooter’s seat sits 20” off the ground by default, but is height adjustable to +/- 3.” In addition to that, the seat swivels, the armrests are height adjustable and padded, the headrest is height adjustable, and the seatback can recline.
If that wasn’t enough, you can change the angle of the steering column, which, when taken with the extensive options for adjusting the seat, gives you all sorts of flexibility to optimize the Panther HD for a perfect seating experience.
Comfort-wise, you’ll find the seat, seatback and headrest to be well padded and comfortable for periods of up to 4 hours or so. Beyond that and you’ll start getting a bit uncomfortable and may require a bit of additional padding.
The one thing we’re not overly impressed with here, especially given the high price of this model, is the fact that the upholstery is PU. In our view, that’s a substandard choice on a chair like this.
It looks pretty, but it doesn’t age well at all, and worse, it’s not breathable. Although the frame has a limited lifetime warranty, you can expect that the upholstery will start peeling and cracking after about 18 months if you use this scooter on a daily or near-daily basis.
The silver lining you will find there is that there’s not a huge amount of upholstery to contend with, so having the seat reupholstered isn’t going to be a tremendous expense. Still, if you get one of these, just know going in that the day’s coming (and probably sooner than you’d like) when you’ll have to break down and have the seat redone.
Extras and Options
There are a few interesting extras an options that come standard on the Panther Heavy-Duty 4-wheel scooter that you’ll enjoy.
First and foremost, there’s the modestly sized storage basket on the front. While it doesn’t hold a lot, we love the fact that the Panther offers some built-in storage.
Second, this model is equipped with a headlight that really expands when, where, and how you can use it. A very nice touch and something that not all scooters come equipped with.
Third, there’s the fact that this model has a USB port built into the instrument panel, allowing you to keep your phone charged while listening to your favorite music as you drive.
It’s a small thing, but a very nice touch, and it’s just one of those little finishing touches that makes this feel like a luxury product.
In addition to that, Drive offers a number of extras you can purchase to further augment and personalize your scooter. These include:
- A cover, to protect your scooter from the elements
- A pull-behind trailer with a removable cover
- An Oxygen Tank holder (mounts behind the seat)
- A crutch/cane holder (mounts behind the seat)
- A cup holder (mounts beside the seat)
- A rear basket for extra storage
- An armrest bag for yet more storage
- And a backpack (slings over the seat) for yet more storage!
We love the company’s focus on storage options here, and if you invest in all of them, there’s not much you won’t be able to carry around with you.
Portability & Ease of Use
Early on in this Drive Medical Panther scooter review, we made mention of the fact that this unit didn’t win high marks for portability. Now, we have to talk about that further. This, like the price of the unit, is a genuine point of weakness.
Many of Drive’s other models can be dismantled with ease, allowing you to store the pieces in whatever trunk or backseat space you might have.
No such option exists for this model. While the seat comes off, and you can pull the batteries out to transport separately, you’re still left with the large frame to deal with.
If you want to travel with this scooter, you’re going to need to invest in some technology:
Either a ramp, so you can drive the unit into your van or truck bed and secure it for transport, or a lift, so you can carry it behind your vehicle until you get where you’re going.
Both of those options neatly sidestep the issue of the Panther’s lack of portability, but there’s a catch: This is already an expensive unit, and adding the expense of a ramp or a lift makes it even more expensive. Unfortunately, that puts this model out of the reach of a fair percentage of the people who might want one.
Regarding air travel, you can pretty much forget it. Airlines charge by the pound, and they’re none too fond of transporting scooters in any event, on account of the whole fire on airplanes is a bad thing, and batteries tend to be fire hazards.
Even if you could convince an airline to let you bring it with you, though, you’d pay through the nose for it. It’s just an uphill battle all the way around, so if you want to travel with this beast, you’ll almost certainly be doing it overland.
Pros & Cons of Panther Heavy-Duty 4-Wheel Scooter
We like almost everything about the Drive Medical Panther mobility scooter. It’s big, impressive, and incredibly capable. While it can’t go absolutely everywhere, it can take you most of the places you’re likely to want to get to. It can also carry you over terrains that would simply overwhelm lesser scooters.
Unfortunately, its high price and relative lack of portability (sans an additional investment in gear) are considerable drawbacks that will make getting one of these a virtual impossibility for some users.
Drive Medical Panther Scooter Review Conclusion
We’d say here in our Drive Medical Panther scooter review that despite its two big shortcomings, we love the machine, and we think you will too. It’s pricey, but this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. We highly recommend this model. You’ll be riding in comfort and style.
References & Resources:
- Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Official Brand Website.
- Drive Medical Panther Scooter User Manual.
- Do You Need a Mobility Scooter?, Verywellhealth.
- Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs, Research Institute For Disabled Consumers.
- Power-Driven Mobility Devices, ADA.
Recommended For: Anyone weighing up to 425 pounds – if you can afford it.