Sportiest Mule with an injection of KRX DNA By the staff of Dirt Wheels


Kawasaki introduced the world to the Multi-Use Light-Equipment (Mule) SxS in 1988, and these utility vehicles were first powered by a 454cc twin from the Vulcan street bike. Later, the Mule lineup offered 812cc, triple-cylinder gasoline and diesel options and cabin room for up to six occupants. For 2014, Kawasaki introduced the Mule Pro-FX line with more recreational performance once the heavy lifting is done, and 2024 brings the sportiest Mules yet with the Pro-FX line, getting a 999cc twin that’s based on the pure-sport Teryx KRX 1000. Dirt Wheels had a first test in our November 2023 issue, and we got to spend more time in the Mule 1000s over a two-day ride in Utah’s Arapeen Trail System to test its sport and recreational capabilities. We’ll do the three-seat Mule Pro-FXR 1000 Limited Edition first and present the trans-cab Pro-FXT 1000 Platinum Ranch Edition later. 


A lot! The Pro-FX line gets the Kawasaki-built, 999cc parallel-twin engine, loosely based on the same mill in the pure-sport KRX 1000, improving horsepower (from 47 to 70 horsepower), torque (from 48 to 61.5 pound-feet), acceleration and top speed. The Mule 1000 is fed via a single 38mm throttle body for smoother operation, while the KRX has two 50mm throttle bodies. Compression is reduced from 11.5:1 to 10.1:1 for smoother acceleration, and the engine air intake has been relocated to pull cleaner air.

The front hood, grill and fenders also received updated styling. Suspension travel and ground clearance have increased substantially without reducing payload capacity. In the past, a terminal block could be purchased as an add-on to simplify adding electronic accessories, but it’s standard equipment on Pro-FXs. The Mule Pro-FXR 1000 comes with 27-inch, 6-ply Duro Power Grip II radial tires on 12-inch aluminum rims, while Pro-FXTs come with 26-inch Duro Frontier tires on the same rims.

Kawasaki’s all-new Mule Pro-FXR 1000 blends work with fun with the most power and performance ever in the Mule line. Almost a foot of travel lets it stretch its legs and articulate over obstacles. It’s incredibly planted and sure-footed.


The Mule Pro-1000 series pricing begins at $17,099 for the Pro-FXR 1000 three-seat and $18,199 for the LE version. The 812cc Pro-FXR is $17,299, and the Pro-FX 1000 is $18,799. Can-Am’s Defender XT three-seat starts at $16,399 with the 52-horsepower HD7 single, and jumps to $21,599 with the 82-horsepower HD10 engine. Polaris’ General 1000 Sport is $17,499, and the General 1000 Premium is $19,999. The General XP 1000 Sport is $24,499, the Premium is $26,999, and the Ultimate is $28,999. The EPS-equipped Polaris Ranger 1000 starts at $16,499 or $20,299 for a Ranger XP 1000. Yamaha’s new Wolverine X2 1000 R-Spec is $17,999, and the XT-R is $19,999. The Yamaha Viking 700 EPS is $15,799. CFMoto’s UForce 1000 is $13,299 and can tow up to 2,500 pounds. Arctic Cat’s Prowler Pro starts at $15,999 for the EPS, the XT is $17,999, and the LTD is $18,799. Honda’s Pioneer 1000 starts at $17,599 and jumps to $20,999 for the Trail or Forest Editions.

Storage is ample with a glove cubby, cubby for radios, large glovebox and under-seat storage. The dash has five blanks for accessory switches, a center-mount instrument panel, 12-volt and USB ports, and the range selector and parking brake.


Compared to the 812cc triples, acceleration is much stronger in the low to midrange from idle to 50 mph. Top speed has also increased by 30 percent and is governed to 65 mph in High; top speed in Low is 32 mph. While speed isn’t a big deal to those who use the Mule strictly for work, it’s important for recreational riding. Acceleration in High is exceptionally smooth, while it’s more peppy in Low range. Some of the Arapeen trails (#37, 38 and 39) are very tight and technical, and the Pro-FXR tackled them easily with our fun meters pegged. The new Mule Pro-FX 1000 series still includes selectable 2WD/4WD with diff-lock and a turf-friendly, dual-mode rear differential.

You would think that increasing displacement and horsepower would also increase noise, but it’s slightly quieter thanks to a new 8-liter muffler. There is a noticeable whine of the CVT in Low, but conversing in High range was easy in the quiet cabin. The exhaust is also redesigned to flow heat away from the engine to help keep the running temperature cooler. Kawasaki also installed a heat shield behind the forward-facing radiator that deflects heat downward and away from the cab.

The under-seat bin has a lid to keep contents clean and dry, and the EFI fuel cell holds 7.9 gallons. Two cup holders and phone holders ride behind the seat bottom.


Kawasaki substantially increased wheel travel and ground clearance, and travel is equal to Kawasaki’s Teryx-4 800 S. Wheel travel increased from 8.7 inches to 11 inches up front and 8.5 inches to 10.1 inches at the rear. Rear A-arms are beefed up with boxed lower A-arms, and the shocks received new A-arm mounting for more shock stroke and travel. Shock tuning is excellent, with good compliance on rocks, ruts and roots, yet the shocks firm up to prevent harsh bottoming at spirited trail speeds. Our shocks were on two of five preload settings, front and rear. With preload maxed, the Pro-FXR bumps from 12.2 inches up to 13.2 inches of ground clearance. Neither end has an anti-sway bar, but body roll during hard cornering wasn’t an issue. Even more impressive is how much flex this Mule’s suspension is capable of when crossing uneven obstacles. When a wheel drops into a ditch, the chassis remains relatively level.

Rear suspension travel grows to 10.1 inches on the Pro-FXR 1000, and tires are 27x11R12 Duro Power Grip II radials. The bed holds 999 pounds of cargo and tilts to dump loads or access the new engine. Our LE had the optional bed extender, side- and rear-view mirrors, and a spare tire.


Both the 812cc Pro-FXR and Pro-FXR 1000 have a wheelbase of 79.7 inches and a 64-inch width, so both are agile and fun to corner. The turning radius is better than expected in the Pro-FXR 1000 with a 14-foot turning radius, the same as the 812, but the added suspension travel of the 1000 makes it gobble terrain better and stay on line. The 1000 feels planted and stable at higher speeds, and we could set up drifts on the USFS gravel roads connecting the more technical trails. Kawasaki’s innovative electric power steering system also comes into play, providing more assistance at slower speeds. As the pace picks up, the EPS motor backs off for a more connected trail feel while doubling as a steering damper against blows from rocks and tree roots. Excellent EBS aids descents, providing four-wheel engine braking and slip-free traction, even in snow, slush and mud, and backing up the brakes. Even the over-molded steering wheel adds to the sporty performance and great trail manners. We never put a wheel wrong in two days of great trails, and we never wanted stronger brakes.

Remove a passenger-side panel to access the pleated-paper air filter, battery, oil filter and dipstick. Filter service life extends from 500 to 2,000 miles.
Front travel grows to 11 inches, and the gull-wing A-arms act on HPG shocks with five-position preload adjusters. There are no anti-sway bars, but there is surprisingly little body roll, even on the softest preload setting.
All new for Mules, the KRX-based 999cc twin has two 92mm pistons, 75.1mm stroke, one 38mm Mikuni EFI throttle body and 10.1:1 compression; 70 horsepower is supplied by the new engine, which is an increase from 47, and maximum torque is up 27 percent over the previous 812cc engine.


The Mule Pro-FXR 1000 is an off-road limousine with excellent ride quality from plush suspension and low noise levels in the cabin. Our test unit had Kawasaki’s accessory side- and rear-view mirrors, half windshield, and bed extender, and we also carried a spare tire in the bed. The steering wheel is sturdy and comfortable, the range selector is slick to shift, and the foot pedals are well-placed. The two-tone bench seat is comfortable and provides a secure platform with a great view over the hood. There is plenty of storage with a large glove box, center cubby (for adding radios) and a bin under the driver’s seat. The passenger grab bar on the A-pillar makes it easier to get in and out, and tubed loops behind the cab provide anchors (bolsters) in off-camber turns, but they don’t have cushioned covers like the Pro-FXT Platinum Ranch Edition. Shoulder belts didn’t chafe necks. The mirrors came in handy for turning around on the trails, but we did have to fold in the side mirrors a couple of times on really tight trails.

On the first day, we ate lunch at an epic overlook and made sandwiches on the tailgate and bed. We encountered many weather and trail conditions over the two days, including racing winds at high elevations, dust, smoke from a USFS-prescribed burn, washouts from Hurricane Hilary, slick black mud, slush and even some snow. The Mule Pro-FXR 1000 handled everything with style and comfort. Half doors kept mud and dust out of the cabin, the half windshield diverted wind blast over our heads, and nothing rattled or buzzed. We had four Mule 1000s on the ride and didn’t get one flat. The Duro Power Grip II tires provided excellent traction in all conditions, and the engine has the power to turn taller tires for even better ride quality. Filling up after the first day, we calculated 13.8 mpg, and we did about 130 miles.

Kawasaki designed the new Mule Pro-FXR 1000 to be incredibly smooth in delivery and performance, so it’s very planted to the ground and stable at any speed. The surface has to be very slick to get any side slip at all.


The 999cc engine is more accessible to service than the 812cc. We already mentioned that the air intake was relocated to draw cleaner air. The pleated-paper air filter is also double the size. Both changes increased the air filter service life from 50 to 200 hours, or from 500 miles to 2,000. The radiator also has a higher capacity to keep the larger engine cool, and the bed lifts for more access.

Access to general maintenance areas is also greatly improved. Kawasaki consolidated the location of the air filter box, battery, oil dipstick and oil filter, all accessible from the side of the vehicle without having to get on your knees or having to twist your knuckles through hoses and hot engine components. The oil dipstick has been extended for direct access without reaching inside the engine compartment. The airbox has a tool-less access lid in the same spot. But, the best part is the automotive-style, twist-on oil filter at the top of the engine. It’s mounted so the bottom of the filter points upward for less mess during removal. The engine design incorporates a catch tray for what little oil might drain out, quickly wiped away with a rag. The best part is that you can check your air-filter condition and oil level in seconds before every ride.


Mules have been designed, engineered, and built for hard work in harsh conditions and durability for trouble-free days on the job site since day one. We occasionally see original 1988 Mules on the job, one in Luckenbach, Texas. They’re built to last, and Kawasaki has one Ranch customer who buys 30 at a time. With the new Mule Pro-FX 1000 line, owners can now recreate with their SxS after the work is done. With travel, power and handling of a recreational side-by-side, the 2024 Mule Pro-FXR 1000 LE could almost be considered a cross-over machine, like a General or Commander. The only thing missing are bucket seats. The Pro-FXR 1000 is an impressive trail machine with ample and smooth power, great handling and cabin comfort, plush suspension, and durability. Contact: www.kawasaki.com

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