In a Nutshell:
The Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Wheelchair is a very good, highly customizable light duty wheelchair, offered for a song. Recommended for anyone who needs a light duty wheelchair for short to medium-duration seating. Anyone who’s on a budget. Designed primarily for indoor use.
Ease of Use
Are you dealing with a mobility issue? Is it slowing you down and interfering with your quality of life?
If so, then you’re going to be intrigued and then some by our Drive Medical’s X4 Cruiser Wheelchair review.
It’s a light duty wheelchair that’s not designed for long-duration sitting, so if that’s the direction your needs lie in, then this isn’t the chair for you. For just about everyone else though, this is the little wheelchair that could.
As you’ll see in the sections that follow, it’s highly configurable and adjustable model, which means it appeals to a broad swath of the market, and it’s offered by Drive Medical, one of the most respected names in the industry.
Sure, it’s got its limitations, but it’s a budget-priced chair, which makes every limitation the model has both entirely understandable and forgivable.
While this model didn’t win our top pick as the best overall value (that honor goes to the Medline K4 Basic, it places a close second in that category. Even if you don’t think this chair is a good fit for you, we think you’ll agree, for the money, it’s an amazing piece of engineering.
Let’s jump right in and see what “the little chair that could” can do!
An Overview of Drive Medical’s X4 Cruiser Wheelchair
The first thing you’ll notice about the Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Lightweight is that it looks like a light-duty wheelchair. Not that it looks fragile…in fact, it’s anything but, being constructed of a mix of carbon steel and aluminum, and as such, it’s got a fair amount of heft to it at 39 pounds.
No, what makes it look like a light-duty wheelchair is the light nylon seat and seat back. No padding to be found here, so it’s not great for long-duration sitting.
It’s not an unattractive chair, just functional and utilitarian, and it only comes in one color, basic black, but the true strength of the design isn’t tied to its aesthetic, and we’ll start taking a look at those strengths right now, starting with the chair’s basic stats:
Weighing in at north of 30 pounds, it’s a bit of a chore to load into a vehicle for transport. And depending on the severity of your mobility issue, you may need help with the loading and unloading. Even so, it collapses into a small enough package that it should fit in the trunk of most full-sized sedans, and SUVs should be able to accommodate it without difficulty.
Adjustability & Comfort
As you can see by taking a look at those stats, an almost shocking number of features are adjustable.
At the point of sale, you can order the Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Wheelchair with one of three different seat widths, choosing between 16”, 18” or 20”, and depending on what option you select, other stats (seat depth and total chair weight). That, however, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
The seat height can also be adjusted to three different settings; the back height can befine-tuned, although not by nearly as much, the length of the footrests can also be modified, and the height of the (full-length) arms can be height adjusted too! Put all those elements together, and you get a chair that’s designed to fit just about anyone.
We’ve seen wheelchairs costing two or three times as much that don’t have anywhere near the number of adjustment options that this model offers.
What makes the X4 a study in contrast is that as exceptional as it is on the adjustability front, it takes an entirely minimalist approach where comfort is concerned.
The breathable nylon seat and seat back will keep you moderately comfortable and are easy to clean. But if you need to sit in this chair for more than 4 hours or so at a time, it’s going to start getting uncomfortable.
The good news is that this is one of the least expensive wheelchairs on the market. As such, it’s a trivial matter to buy an aftermarket cushion for the seat and seat back and improve the comfort level. It still won’t be something you’ll want to spend all day in, but you’ll get at least another two hours of reasonable comfort, and that’s not bad.
Final note here – we love the brakes! It’s got independently locking left- and right-side brakes with locking mechanisms that are easily accessible by the person sitting in the chair. Of course, we’d love it if it also included handbrakes on the rear handles, but their absence was a design decision made with the aim to keep the price low. Can’t fault them for that.
On-Board Storage & Extras
As a budget-priced chair, you wouldn’t expect to find many extras on offer, and sure enough, the Drive Cruiser X4 Wheelchair only has one “extra” to talk about, but it’s a very, very good one.
The footrests can be raised or lowered, in addition to swinging away.
Most wheelchairs offer swing away footrests, which allows the person sitting in the chair to wheel right up next to the dinner table and enjoy a meal with the family without transferring from the wheelchair to a dining chair.
Reclining footrests though… that’s another matter entirely, and only a few models available today even offer the feature, which puts the X4 in rare company, and makes it all the more outstanding, especially for the modest price you’ll pay.
You can buy a safety belt from the company as a piece of optional equipment, and you’ll probably also want some type of on-board storage system. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t sell one of those, but some aftermarket vendors do.
In some ways, the relative lack of options is a blessing in disguise. It keeps the cost of the chair low, and you’re not paying for extras you won’t wind up using. Plus, you’ve got unlimited flexibility to get all the extras you want, and you still won’t wind up spending as much as you would on a lot of other wheelchair models. That’s wins all around!
Below Average on Outdoor Terrains
Another weak spot of the X4’s design is that it’s not so great on outdoor terrains. If you plan to use the chair mostly indoors with only occasional jaunts outside and you stick to fairly flat, even terrain, you’ll be okay. But even though it sports 22” mag wheels in the back and 8” casters in the front, the rear wheels just aren’t designed to handle challenging terrains.
A Slight Learning Curve, (Almost) No Assembly Required
Given all of the things you can adjust on the X4, it should come as no surprise that there is a bit of a learning curve here. It won’t take you long to get the hang of all the adjustments, and once you make them, you won’t have to re-adjust. Plan on perhaps thirty minutes or so of experimentation until you get it just the way you want it. After that, it’s nothing but smooth sailing.
The Cruiser X4 Wheelchair Manual comes almost completely assembled when it’s delivered to your door. About the only thing you have to do to get ready to roll is pop the footrests on, a process which will take no more than a couple minutes. Kudos to Drive Medical for that!
Pros & Cons of the Cruiser X4 Wheelchair
There’s a lot to like about the X4 Cruiser. Hands down, our favorite aspect of the chair is that so many of its features can be modified, allowing you to create your own “perfect fit.” The inclining leg rests are a close second, but that’s a feature that not everyone will want or need, whereas the adjustability is universal.
Regarding negatives, we don’t have any real complaints about the design. But in a perfect world, we’d like to see handbrakes added to the push handles on the back of the seat, and perhaps a bit more padding built-in. As we said earlier though, the absence of those things were conscious design decisions aimed at keeping the total cost of the chair low.
One thing worth mentioning here though is that we did read more than a few complaints about the quality of the welds on certain parts of the chair. As we understand it, this is mostly a function of the company’s decision to use mixed materials (carbon steel and aluminum) in the chair’s construction. Where these two are affixed together, the welds are somewhat weaker than the welds of like materials, and it has caused some issues.
Having said that, Drive Medical is an outstanding company with world-class support. You may never encounter the issue personally, but if you do, getting it fixed to your satisfaction shouldn’t be a problem.
Final Thoughts on Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Wheelchair
We love the X4, but readily admit that it’s not the “right” chair for everyone.
If you weigh more than 300 pounds, plan on using the chair outdoors on uneven terrain on a regular basis or need to be in it for several hours every day, this isn’t the chair for you.
For everyone else though, the X4 is an outstanding pick. The Little Wheelchair That Could. Recommended.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Lightweight Chair, Official Brand Website.
- Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Wheelchair Manual.
- The Top Wheelchair Safety Tips for Nurses and Caregivers, HLS Healthcare.
- Assisting a Client to Use the Wheelchair, The University of Western Australia.
- Electric Wheelchairs (Power Chairs) and Manual Wheelchairs, Electric-Wheelchairs-101.