Whether it be hauling wine barrels, cutting up lumber, moving bales of hay, or venturing out to hunt down some deer, I would love to have one of these machines at my disposal.

My role at RideApart primarily revolves around motorcycles, but when my editors said head over to Paso Robles for some 4-wheel farm utility driving, food, and wine tasting with Kawasaki Motors, I said, “Sure, why the hell not? Variance is the spice of life and I like four wheels just as much as I like two."

I always aim to tell it straight to my audience and this time is no different—I don’t have much experience with farm utility vehicles, side-by-sides, or working long days on a farm. My family has a farm in North Carolina and much of my time there is spent roaming around various trails, barbecuing, swimming, and/or fishing at the pond. I don’t go there for hard labor, I go there to relax.

When I arrived in Paso Robles for the Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition launch, I did no prior research or look into the product before hand. I'm typically and often, very well informed so having the opportunity to venture into something with a healthy amount of ignorance simply accelerated and charged my curiosity.

After a lovely dinner upon arrival and a delicious breakfast the following morning, the press pool ventured over to a 14,000 acre property/winery for a product presentation where we received a TON of information on the Mule lineup. I almost felt like I was back at college attending an engineering class.

We learned a great amount about the Mule lineup from inception, to assembly, to its capabilities and evolution since it was introduced in 1988. The presentation was immensely educational. Beyond the spec sheet for the Mule Pro lineup (which you can find at the end of this article), the amount of accessories available for customization is mind blowing—it rivals most luxury cars.

Need a Mule that's suited for heavy utility/construction? Kawasaki has you covered. Need a Mule to plow snow in those miserable winter months? Kawasaki has you covered. Need a Mule for roaming the landscape during hunting season...I mean really, this side-by-side has its bases covered in this department.

Kawasaki Mule Pro FX with Hard Cab Option. Perfectly suitable for those cold midwest days.

Kawasaki Mule Pro FX with Hard Cab Option. Perfectly suitable for those cold midwest days.

No utility / recreational vehicle is complete without a gun rack and a cooler to hold a few bottles of water and a sixer of your favorite lager. Again, Kawasaki has you covered.

No utility / recreational vehicle is complete without a gun rack and a cooler to hold a few bottles of water and a sixer of your favorite lager. Again, Kawasaki has you covered.

The Mule Pro FX for those that hunt. During our expedition on the trail, we came upon a number of deer and were able to get within 15 yards before they up and ran away. The Mule is remarkably quiet in this respect and with this camo paint scheme you can add an extra level of stealth in your approach.

The Mule Pro FX for those that hunt. During our expedition on the trail, we came upon a number of deer and were able to get within 15 yards before they up and ran away. The Mule is remarkably quiet in this respect and with this camo paint scheme you can add an extra level of stealth in your approach.

Kevin Allen, Manager, PR and Brand Experience for Kawasaki Motors said,  "The Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition are built for utility but have enough great engineering and design built in that they are capable for recreational use.”

"Recreational Use” Ok, yeah, I’ll be the judge of that. Let’s see how much fun these vehicles can be, now we’re venturing into my area of expertise.

The Ride

Before we headed out onto the trails, the first thing I noticed about the Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition was the comfort and safety of the interior. Both interiors are practically the same in terms of configuration—the Pro FXT Ranch Edition offering premium level trim, seat embossing and a second row seating area. The foam bench style seats were quite comfortable all day driving and the adjustable three-point adjustable seat belts felt snug and capable of holding me in the vehicle in the event it were to roll over (this is not something I tested.) All buttons and readouts were easily readable and straightforward, but my favorite feature was the adjustable steering column.

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

The demo course was split into two separate courses for each model and each loop lasted about two hours along varied terrain.

The team leads from Kawasaki took us through the courses at a manageable pace, but it didn’t stop us from getting to know each of our machines. In two-wheel rear wheel drive mode, both vehicles are a hoot. Myself and a few of the younger journalists held back, then slingshoted as much as we could to test acceleration and cornering maneuvers in both models.

Let’s just say, if there were more video cameras on us, Kawasaki would have had some additional marketing materials that they could have titled: Kawasaki’s Fast and the Furious Paso Robles Drift.

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

With the flip of a switch, 4-wheel drive mode is easily accessible and worked flawlessly in rougher and uneven terrain. We scaled steep grades like billy goats on Discovery Earth and barreled through water crossings with confidence.

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

Kawasaki's electronic power system found on the above Pro FX EPS model allows for effortless steering input at slower slower speeds while tightening up as the vehicle gains speed. I found the steering to be a tad loose for any kind of performance driving, but on the whole, riving input was manageable and responsive.

At the heart of each of these capable machines beats an 829cc three-cylinder direct fuel injection (DFI) engine that produces 48 lb-ft of torque and has a specially tuned CVT transmission. I was not expecting a sports car-like acceleration, but time and time again, I was pleased with the smooth and linear power delivery. There were never any power jumps through the gear range or surprises when jamming on the gas pedal. While not built for speed, the Mule is capable of reaching speeds up to 45 m.p.h.

Mule Pro FXT Ranch Edition. Let the good time roll.

Mule Pro FXT Ranch Edition. Let the good time roll.

The beefy 26” Duro off-road tires provided substantial grip in sandy areas, and overall deceleration and control is provided by front and rear 212mm hydraulic disc brakes. I managed a number of panic braking maneuvers, and I thought the brakes on both Mules offered great performance and stopping power. They also retained good feel and touch when engaging the brakes on downward descents.

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

Engine braking on the Mule could be better—so a reliance on the brakes when traversing steep grades is a must.

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

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The suspension on the Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition utilize a twin-tube, preload-adjustable shocks at each corner, with large diameter tubing for the A-arm design and 10.2” of ground clearance.

I found the suspension to be extremely adequate in absorbing dips, bumps, dirt washes, and rocky terrain while moving at a decent quip. I tried to bottom it out when opportunities presented themselves, but I never succeeded.  

Conclusion

Whether it be hauling wine barrels, cutting up lumber, moving bales of hay, or venturing out to hunt down some deer, I would love to have one of these machines at my disposal.

Out of both vehicles, I had a better time in the Pro FX only because it made more sense to me. The single row bench design and bigger cargo area made the Pro FX 400 lbs. lighter than the Pro FXT Ranch Edition.  Acceleration was quicker, kicking the tail out in corners was easier (for those looking to have fun), and overall it's the better option because it blends practicality and recreation into one machine while remaining more cost-effective when compared to the Pro FXT Ranch Edition.

The Pro FXT Ranch Edition was by no means a slouch. Though it's heavier and handles a bit different than the Pro FX, it does everything the Pro FX does and more. It's geared toward the rancher or farm owner that sports a ten-gallon Stetson, wears his boots and big belt buckle proudly, and desires a bit more bling on his day-to-day utility vehicle. The kind of guy that requires a "mover" and a “hauler”,  capable of transporting the whole family around the property on the weekend and then transforming from a six passenger stud wagon back into a practical three passenger utility vehicle during the week. The Ranch Edition has it all and for the farmer or rancher that wants it all.

Pricing / Colors / Models

The Mule Pro FX is available in four different models with pricing starting at $12,999.  To browse through the different models, visit Kawasaki’s official website for all their side x sides. 

The Mule Pro FXT Ranch Edition is available for $16,899 with one color option: Metallic Titanium.

CLICK LINK BELOW FOR PHOTOS AND SPECS

MANUFACTURES DETAILS

SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE 2016 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FX

  • Class-leading 48 lb-ft of torque from new 812cc three-cylinder fuel injected engine
  • Fastest, most powerful MULE ever built
  • NEW Largest high-tensile steel cargo bed in its class
  • Haul up to 1000 lb (where permitted by state law) (600 lb max for California models)
  • Tow up to 2000 lb (where permitted by state law) with 2” receiver hitch
  • Independent front and rear suspension, disc brakes, CVT, Electric Power Steering
  • NEW Comfortable, single-row bench seating with auto-style seatbelts for each occupant
  • Cockpit features tilt steering (except non-EPS model), multi-function LCD display and multiple 12V outlets powered by high-output alternator
  • Roll Over Protective Structure and automotive-style doors
  • Non-EPS, EPS, EPS LE and CAMO models available
  • Backed by a Kawasaki STRONG Limited Three-Year Warranty
  • A vast range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories available for order

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2016 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FX SPECIFICATIONS

 

SPEC TEMPLATE

2016 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FX EPS LE*

Engine

4-stroke, 3-cylinder, DOHC, Liquid-cooled

Displacement

812cc

Maximum Torque

48 lb-ft @ 3,500rpm

Bore x Stroke

72 x 66.5mm

Compression Ratio

9.5:1

Fuel System

DFI® w/34 mm throttle body

Ignition

Battery and coil

Transmission

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with high and low range, forward, neutral and reverse

Final Drive

Shaft, selectable 4-wheel drive with dual-mode rear differential

Frame Type

Steel tube ladder type

Suspension / Wheel Travel

Double wishbone / 8.7” front, double wishbone / 8.5 / 8.7” rear

Tires, Front / Rear

26 x 9.00 R12 / 26 x 11.00 R12

Brakes

Hydraulic, dual 212mm front discs with two-piston calipers, dual 212mm discs with single-piston calipers, mechanical parking brake

Steering

Electric power assisted rack-and-pinion

Fuel Capacity

7.9 gallons

Curb Weight**

1801.5 lb

Overall Length

133.3”

Overall Width

64”

Overall Height

79.7”

Wheelbase

92.3”

Ground Clearance

10.4”

Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS)

ROPS meets the performance requirements of ISO 3471

Cargo Bed Dimensions (LxWxH)

54.1 x 53.3 x 11”

Seating Capacity

3

Load Capacity

1,649 lb

Cargo Bed Capacity

1,000 lb (where permitted) 600 lb max capacity for California models

Towing Capacity

2,000 lb (where permitted)

Turning Radius

16ft

Alternator Output (max)

75 amp

Lighting

(2) 55/60W sealed-beam headlights, (2) LED auxiliary lights

Instruments

Multi-function display includes digital speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, hour meter, clock, dual trip meters, warning indicators for 2WD/4WD, water temperature, oil pressure, fuel injection, CVT, neutral, reverse and parking indicators, seatbelt reminder lamps

Color Choices

Timberline Green, Dark Royal Red

MSRP

 $14,199

Warranty

Kawasaki Strong 3 Year Limited Warranty

Kawasaki Protection Plus™ (optional)

12, 24 or 36 months

 

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition
RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE 2016 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FXT™ RANCH EDITION

  • 48 lb-ft of torque from 812cc three-cylinder fuel injected engine
  • NEW Metallic Titanium paint finish with unique Ranch Edition badging
  • NEW Two-tone seat covers with embossed Ranch Edition logos
  • INCLUDED Standard equipment WARN winch with wired remote actuator and integrated fuse kit
  • INCLUDED MULE PRO-FXT LE-spec composite sun top
  • INCLUDED MULE PRO-FXT LE-spec aluminum wheels and high-intensity LED headlights
  • Independent front and rear suspension, disc brakes, CVT, Electric Power Steering
  • Haul up to 1000 lb in steel cargo bed and tow up to 2000 lb (where permitted)
  • Trans Cab allows one person to quickly convert from three- to six-seat capacity
  • Cockpit features tilt steering, multi-function LCD display and multiple 12V outlets
  • A vast range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories
  • Kawasaki STRONG Three-Year Warranty

2016 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FXTRANCH EDITION SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine

4-stroke, 3-cylinder, DOHC, Liquid-cooled

Displacement

812cc

Maximum Torque

48 lb-ft @ 3,500rpm

Bore x Stroke

72 x 66.5mm

Compression Ratio

9.5:1

Fuel System

DFI® w/34 mm throttle body

Ignition

Battery and coil

Transmission

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with high and low range, forward, neutral and reverse

Final Drive

Shaft, selectable 4-wheel drive with dual-mode rear differential

Frame Type

Steel tube ladder type

Front Suspension / Wheel Travel

Double wishbone / 8.7”

Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel

Double wishbone / 8.5 / 8.7”

Tires, Front

26 x 9.00 R12

Tires, Rear

26 x 11.00 R12

Brakes, Front

Hydraulic dual 212mm discs with two-piston calipers

Brakes, Rear

Hydraulic dual 212mm discs with single-piston calipers, mechanical parking brake

Steering

Electric power assisted rack-and-pinion

Fuel Capacity

7.9 gallon

Curb Weight**

1933.8 lb

Overall Length

135.6”

Overall Width

64”

Overall Height

79.5”

Wheelbase

92.3”

Ground Clearance

10.2”

Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS)

ROPS meets the performance requirements of ISO 3471

Cargo Bed Dimensions (LxWxH)

42.7 / 22” x 53.7 x 11”

Seating Capacity

6 (3 front /3 rear)

Load Capacity

1,605 lb

Cargo Bed Capacity

350 lb / 1,000 lb (6/3-pass mode) (where state law permits) (600 lb maximum capacity for California models)

Towing Capacity

2,000 lb

Turning Radius

16 ft

Alternator Output (max)

75 amp

Lighting

(2) 55/60W sealed-beam headlights, (2) LED auxiliary lights

Instruments

Multi-function display includes digital speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, hour meter, clock, dual trip meters, 2WD/4WD indicator, water temperature warning indicator, oil pressure warning indicator, fuel injection warning indicator, CVT and EPS warning indicators, neutral, reverse and parking indicators, seatbelt reminder lamps

Color Choices

Metallic Titanium

MSRP

$16,899

Warranty

Kawasaki Strong 3-Year Limited Warranty

Kawasaki Protection Plus™ (optional)

12, 24 or 36 months

 

RideApart Review: 2016 Kawasaki Mule Pro FX and FXT Ranch Edition

Photos courtesy of Kawasaki