Engine: 4-stroke Three Cylinder Displacement: 812cc with 48lb-ft of torque Towing Capacity: 2,000lbs Price (as tested): $16,899
Working on a ranch, in a field, or for a local parks departments has always included the need to get around muddy, rutted terrain with a load of cargo. For quite some time, that meant using old pickup trucks that would get beat on and break constantly.
I personally used to work for a parks department and this situation occurred all the time. We’d constantly break parts on the truck because they just weren’t designed to do what we needed to be done. The trucks were also too big to go some of the places we needed them to go. We were stuck in a literal and figurative quagmire.
Then, powersport manufacturers began building more rugged, more utilitarian ATVs and it has since evolved into a rather extensive lineup of capable UTVs. With that, UTVs have become a fairly hot market, not only serving the trade industry, but also hunting enthusiasts, and farmers alike. To launch the company’s new UTV, Kawasaki recently invited us to test drive its new Mule UTV. The new Kawasaki Mule is not only a tried and true workhorse, but one that also comes with available comfort. The Mule can be had in both two-door, and four-door guises, and has one of the largest selections of accessories we’ve ever seen. You’re able to spec out your Mule with everything from gun cases, real in-cabin heaters that work off the motor and not just an electric space heater, to windshield wipers that have a built in spray function to clean the window off like a real car. It honestly feels like the Mule has as many accessories than the new Mercedes S 600 Maybach, and is probably more capable than one.
However, it is the Mule’s ruggedness that gives it its edge. The first part of the course laid out by Kawasaki involved going through the vineyard of a winery, (I know, tough job but someone has to do it). It mostly consisted of gravel roads, and a bit of dirt. We saw cows grazing, and allegedly did a few power slides thanks to the Mules selectable four-wheel drive system. After leaving the vineyard, the trails became much rougher and far trickier to navigate. The first obstacle I encountered was a larger ravine that had a small river at the bottom. The slope was steep and you had to take it fast to have enough grunt to get up the other side. I gave it a bootfull of throttle as I splashed through the river and rocketed up the side of the ravine with ease. Not once did the Kawasaki hiccup or show any signs of stopping. After the ravine, we made our way up a mountain, through some fairly rutted, rocky terrain, and over some logs that had fallen onto the path. Through all that, the Mules suspension soaked up almost everything. I never once felt as if I was going to thrown out of the cabin due to hitting a large rut or stone which tends to happen in other UTVs. I always felt in control and was ready to tackle everything else the mountain or Kawasaki could throw at me.
With that, as I dusted off my jeans, hit the amazing zip line across the vineyard, and began the dinner toasts, it dawned on me that the Mule isn’t just one of the best UTVs you can buy right now, but it’s also one of the best off-roaders you can buy. Compared to other UTVs like John Deere’s Gator series, the Kawasaki Mule has more comfort, more space, and more capability. And with a starting price of just $13,000, it’s less expensive than the comparable John Deere. Add to that it’s all wrapped up into one perfect little package, and the Mule is sure to please all.