— The most reliable workhorse is a Mule —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Kawasaki is a titan company that builds amazing two-wheeled machines that can soar off massive jumps or propel you past 160 mph. It also offered the highly impressive KFX450R ATV, created the stand-up watercraft game and generates excellent UTVs like the sport-inspired Teryx. Their workforce machines are quite popular, too. The Mule Pro lineup is so popular that a few dealers we checked had already sold their current 2019s and were waiting for more to be shipped to them. The facts are as straightforward as the 2019 Mule Pro-FXT EPS is—it gets the job done, and done very well. There is no fluff or awe factor with the FXT. It is made for work, with a side helping of trail fun thrown in, and that’s just how we like it. The starting price of the Pro-FXT is $13,099, but the EPS version runs for $14,899.
SUBTLE & SMOOTH
More and more companies are taking notes from Kawasaki and are introducing triple-cylinder powerplants into their UTVs. Generally, a triple runs smoother and still produces a healthy amount of torque and power. The Mule Pro-FXT has a dual-overhead-cam, 812cc four-stroke engine that is electronically fuel-injected. The high-rpm power output won’t match any of the high-horsepower sport machines, but it holds its own on the trail. One of our favorite aspects of the engine is how quietly it purrs while in operation, and the 7.9-gallon fuel tank allows for long hours and many miles of driving.
Mated to the engine is a fully automatic, continuously variable, belt-style transmission. There are four gear choices in the transmission, including forward high and forward low, neutral, and reverse. There is no park gear, but a parking brake can be employed through a dash-mounted lever to make sure the Kawasaki doesn’t roll away while unattended. Power travels from the engine, through the transmission, and out to the wheels via shaft drive out of front and rear differentials
The rear differential is unlockable, so you can drive the Mule on soft surfaces like grass with only one rear tire, providing power during turns and not tearing up the surface. A quick click of the four-wheel-drive switch engages the front differential. Unfortunately, Kawasaki doesn’t include a locking front diff on their Mule Pro-FXR EPS model.
SUSPENSION & STEERING
Technology continues to advance every year, but the dual A-arm, or wishbone suspension design remains a fresh concept. This system is employed on most all ATVs and UTVs in our industry, including the 2019 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT. Some companies opt for trailing-arm rear suspension or solid-axle suspension.
The front end of the Pro has 8.7 inches of wheel travel, while the rear dual-A-arm independent suspension shares the same travel digits. The shocks utilized on all four corners are gas-charged coil-overs with spring preload adjustability only on the fronts. The base Kawasaki does not come with electronic power steering, but we suggest you cough up the extra coin and get the EPS-equipped version. Steering is much smoother and easier to manipulate with EPS, and Kawasaki’s system adjusts to the speeds the vehicle travels to help you maintain control of your ride.
When you need to slow the momentum, the Mule has hydraulic disc brakes on all four corners. The front calipers are dual piston, while the rear are single piston, all actuated through the foot brake pedal.
CLASSY & CRAFTY
The styling of Kawasaki’s Mule Pro line is blunt and ruggedly attractive. There are no overly aggressive sharp points, or random plastic panels that serve no purpose. Instead, you get a robust machine that says, “I’m here to take care of business.” We recently were presented a list of criteria that our friend John Gordon of Horizon Mechanical needed in a new UTV for his ranch and business. We mulled over his list and began the hunt for a machine. We landed on the 2019 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT for multiple reasons. Not only is it smooth and quiet for ranch operation, it has been proven to be durable and long-lasting, so he purchased this one.
The FXT model is based on the same frame as the FXR that can seat three adults on the single bench seat. However, the Pro-FXT has a rear bench seat to offer seating for six. Kawasaki designed the six-person Trans Cab system to extend the rear cab seating into the cargo bed space. While the rear seat is being utilized, the cargo bed shrinks in size and can only hold 350 pounds of cargo. Once the rear seating is quickly and easily folded forward, the full size of the tilting cargo bed can be utilized with a 1000-pound load rating, or 600 pounds in California. Gordon has a crew that goes on off-site jobs throughout Southern California. Having the versatility in seating comes in quite handy. On top of that, there is a rear 2-inch hitch receiver that can pull up to 2000 pounds.
There are multiple storage locations on the Kawasaki. The cab has a few little nooks in the dash, along with two cup holders and a large glove box. Underneath the front seat is a water-resistant storage bin that can hold up to 20 pounds of cargo. If you hunt through the vast Kawasaki Accessories page on their website, you can find another large cargo bin that fits in the large open space under the front seat.
John’s Ranch isn’t as vast as some others. The Mule Pro is compact enough to get around, and it has a 16-foot turning radius, which is a major benefit in tight places. The steering wheel tilts to fit the different employees who pilot the new machine, and the gauge in the center of the dash provides all the needed readouts. It has a speedometer, fuel gauge, hour meter, clock, dual trip meters, multiple warning indicators, gear selection, the 2WD/4WD indicator and more.
Entering the cockpit is quite simple and smooth. There is an outer door handle to easily open the short door and slide into the front bench seat. The tiltable steering wheel allows for tall and short drivers alike to pilot the Kawasaki. The cab is spacious enough to easily fit three adults across the bench seat and still provide room for the driver to safely operate the Mule.
The FXT’s steering is light and manageable. Electronic steering is a big benefit, and its automatic computerized speed adjustments can be felt as you pick up the pace. While the Kawasaki has a mighty-sized powerplant, it is light in its output. Torque is earned early in the range, which is pleasant when slowly traversing ranch land or cruising around the trails. Throttle operation is smooth, and bottom-end output is subtle. Top-speed numbers fall off before 40-plus mph, which we would like to see raise up while driving down smooth fire roads. However, the suspension might not handle abuse at higher speeds.
We are happy to have independent suspension from all four corners of the Mule. Slow-speed chop is easily managed, and it keeps up with some higher-speed hits, but it is no sport machine. If you want to take a crew hunting, or take your workers around ranch lands, this machine is quite perfect for such tasks. Don’t expect to be digging through deep mud pits, hitting jumps and railing corners, though. The Mule is quite stable at its capable speeds and comfortable as well. The brakes work well to cease momentum and have a linear pedal feel.
We loaded up the Mule with multiple passengers and cargo in the bed and it rarely struggled to get around, unless a steep sandy hill was involved. John is very happy with his purchase of the 2019 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT. It performs all tasks that he requires with ease. Sometimes simple is best, and we couldn’t agree more with this machine. Go to www.kawasaki.com, or wander over to your local Kawasaki dealer to check out more of their great products!
2019 KAWASAKI MULE PRO-FXT EPS SPECS:
Engine In-line triple, DOHC, liquid-cooled, four-stroke
Bore x stroke 71.9mm x 66.5mm
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 7.9 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT
Final drive Shaft
Front Dual A-arms w/ 8.7”
Rear Dual A-arms w/ 8.7”
Front Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Dual hydraulic discs
Ground clearance 10.2”
Curb weight 1911.7 lb.
Payload capacity 1616 lb.
Cargo bed capacity 1000 lb. max
Towing capacity 2000
Colors Timberline Green, Bright White