2017 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FXT EPS
In 2014, Kawasaki powerwashed the drawing board clean and the concept of a utility-focused UTV was completely re-thought with the introduction of its Mule PRO-FXT.
The MULE or Multi Use Light Equipment was overhauled including its most interesting feature: Trans Cab seating. This essentially converts a 3-seater bench into an extra row of seating to haul as many as six riders in the cab at once.
Meanwhile, you can have enormous cargo space when three are onboard or normal cargo space with six. Conversion is remarkably simple and it took our inexperienced crew less than 40 seconds to convert.
With a driver and a passenger parked on the bench seats, the PRO-FXT handled just about as well as any high end utility Side-x-Side on the market, even considering its lack of front or rear sway bars.
With double A-arms front and rear, cornering was flat and on center and never felt unstable even at speed. We would, however, like to see the addition of sway bars for added stability.
This MULE's engine is a different breed. Its EFI 812cc twin-cammer cranks out silky smooth power - and its inline three cylinders generate enough low-end grunt to pull over a building.
We can’t help but think this engine has made a complete and maybe the largest difference in the appeal of this MULE. It’s manufactured by Chery - one of the largest and most reputable automobile manufacturers in China. John Deere has been using the same engine in its Gator 825i for a few years now and it’s one of our favorites. Seeing it here in the MULE PRO-FXT brought a smile to our faces.
The PRO-FXT brings pretty incredible value. We highly recommend shelling out a few extra nickels to move up one notch from the base model to ensure you get EPS.
Kawasaki has set the EPS bar high for its competition. Its automotive-like operation is velvet smooth in 2-wheel drive and offers nearly perfect input when you’re locked in 4x4. It's so good you have to look twice to make sure you're not still in 2WD.
Incidentally, Kawasaki’s 4WD system is excellent. You can choose 4x4, locked 4x4 or 2WD and its operation is seamless. There’s also a “turf-mode” that unlocks the diff so you don’t tear up the grass you’re riding over.
The PRO-FXT was revised specifically to offer more spacious rider accommodations and better cab comfort. Although it’s outside appearance is more boxy than aero, the design affords a lot of elbow-room for passengers - especially the middle seated ones. Even the converted Trans Cab left plenty of legroom for backseat riders.
Yes, the PRO-FXT leans heavily toward the utility side of things. With its great engine and well-calibrated CVT, however, you can blast trails on this SxS and keep up with competitive brands.
Versatility is big when you’re shelling out for a SxS like this - and this one delivers in both the utility and sport departments.
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