Kawasaki wants you to know that its newest Mule Pro side-by-side, launched in November, isn’t your father’s Mule or even your grandfather’s Mule. Nor is it the gas model the company launched last summer. No, the vehicle is designed to take advantage of what most farmers have a lot of - diesel fuel.
On a ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas, Farm Industry News put the new Mule Pro Diesel Series through the paces to test its torque, which diesel engines are known for, and its durability, which Kawasaki says is its trademark.
One or two-row
The Mule Pro Diesel series consists of two configurations: the Pro-DX, where D stands for diesel and X stands for extreme; and the Pro-DXT, where the T stands for trans, or its ability to transform from a 1-row to a 2-row in under 1 minute.
Going from one row to two adds three more seats in back, each with its own seatbelt. Switching back to one row gives you a total of 20 sq. ft. of cargo space, which Kawasaki says is the largest in the industry.
“The reason for a utility vehicle is for its utility, right?, asks Kevin Allen with Kawasaki PR. “This bed can fit a full-size pallet.” The cargo bed capacity is 1,000 lbs.
Tows the line. Towing capacity is also high, at 2,000 lbs. We checked that feature by pulling a wagon-full of hay up a hill and a drag across an outdoor ring to level sand. Both exercises demonstrated the low-range torque of the 993cc diesel, which is claimed to be hands-down better than a gas engine.
The best tests for this was pulling uphill, where it didn’t grunt, and pulling a fully-loaded wagon, which seemed pretty effortless. You couldn’t even feel that a trailer was behind you, even during start-up, due to that torque and good throttle control.
On another test stop, the vehicle was outfitted with a 72-in. blade. Of course, it didn’t let you adjust the pitch or angle as much as you can in the Polaris with a front-pto. But you could still move it up or down. We used the blade to move mulch, which showed us good throttle control and again, that low-range torque.
Next up was the long course over all the hills, bumps and ruts and in between trees. The vehicle has 4 wheel independent suspension, which was good to have, along with electric power steering. The vehicle has engine braking, which is nice (not all utvs have that). I could take my foot off the pedal without careening down the hill, which added a feeling of safety and control.
At the end of the tests, Kevin Allen walked us through some of its accessories. There are 65 of them in all. Again, maybe not as many as some. But you can still bling it out with plenty of stuff such as a rifle rack, camo seats covers, LED light bar, rearview mirror, and audio system.
It was fun to test these new diesel models of the Mule Pro series, designed with the farmer in mind. The features to beat will be the cargo capacity, a standard three-year warranty, and the ability to quickly switch it from a one-row to a two-row vehicle.
Although diesel vehicles tend to cost more, Kawasaki was able to keep it within a price point that was only $500 higher than its gas-powered vehicles by forsaking the aluminum wheels. The vehicles range from $13,000 to $15,000 depending on the configuration and the electric power steering option.
For more information, contact Kawasaki Motors Corp at www.kawasaki.com