Review: 2023 Kawasaki Mule PRO-FX EPS LE
From modern farms and woodlots to the property owners who love outdoors projects, the Kawasaki Mule PRO-FX EPS LE is exactly the type of machine you want around when its time to get the job done.
In fact, our three-week loan of the Mule PRO-FX came at the ideal time, as a few big trees were set to come down at my family’s property up north to make sure they didn’t fall on the house. We also needed to build a new winter shelter for our machinery, and the Kawasaki was a great companion for both of these ventures.
Power for this model comes from an 812cc, liquid-cooled inline three-cylinder engine, sent through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power is sent to two or four wheels, selectable via a switch on the dash, right next to which you can lock the rear differential on this model for when the terrain gets tough. High, low and reverse are your three simple choices for the transmission, and you’ll find that this simplicity spreads throughout this model.
Low range was immediately important as the Mule was tasked with pulling a 30-foot pine tree in the right direction, so it didn’t fall on our house. Torque and low-end power are abundant from this powertrain, which needed only a little throttle to muscle over the big tree. In high range the same low-end power can be felt off the line. Cruising at higher speeds is when the powertrain can start to feel a little breathless, but this again is not something a work machine is generally concerned with. When you need that power is usually at low speeds, and its definitely there.
If modern technology and the latest gadgets get you excited this Kawasaki isn’t likely going to move the needle. Instead this Mule is for those that crave simple dependable machines that just work.
Look no further than the larger-than-most cargo bed to understand what this Mule stands for. With dimensions at 54.1 inches long, 53.3 inches wide and 11 inches deep, you can fit a massive amount of brush, firewood and more of whatever it is you need to haul, and as you can see from the pictures, that’s exactly what we had the Mule doing for us. Unlike other manufacturers that stick with composite material for the entire bed, the floor of the Mule’s cargo area is diamond-stamped steel, a process that Kawasaki undertakes itself to make sure it can fit its strong bed floor to the Mule perfectly.
When it comes time to dump, there are manual latches on both sides of the bed that need to be undone, unlike many of today’s utility side-by-sides that only need you to stand at one side of the machine. This is another area where the Mule shows its lack of modern features, although we quickly discovered a workaround that I’m sure many owners use, simply leave one latch open all the time. There is a gas-charged shock to help you dump, though don’t expect much from it, as it’s positioning doesn’t allow it to do any significant lifting.
Official bed capacity on this Mule is 1000 lb, and during our time with the machine we hit or exceeded that number multiple times, and the bed did everything as it should. Large rails surrounding the bed allow for many each attachment points for ropes or bungee cords, while the rear latches for the tailgate are spring-loaded and don’t rattle away when you’re driving down the trail.
A 2-inch hitch receiver is included at the back of the machine which touts 2000 lb of tow capacity, a number which we once again made sure to test. Moving a roughly 700-lb sailboat around our yard was easy thanks to the Mule, which has a double wishbone rear suspension working with 8.7 in of travel. Though the rear end did squat under the heavy tongue weight, driving characteristics of the Mule remained intact.
A simple flat bench seat is found inside for the three passengers, offering thick cushioning though little in the way of contouring or bolstering. The seat sits at 34.8 in, a comfortable height for constantly getting in and out of this machine, another important aspect of any work unit. Sitting directly behind the occupants heads is another handy feature, a steel rack that doubles as protection from intruding branches or whatever else happens to be loaded behind you. Strap a shovel, rifle or axe to that rack for easy access, and it keeps your bed empty for transporting whatever you need.
Opting for the EPS LE model brings along electric power steering, as the name implies, but also a host of features like the roof, cast aluminum wheels and a combination of halogen and LED headlights. This light setup gives the driver four different light settings in total to choose from, not to mention the ability to choose between just the clear white LED light or more traditional halogen bulbs.
One notable omission from this Mule model is a front-mounted winch, a feature that seems to be spreading to more units all the time. Outside of that, this Mule PRO-FX EPS LE has everything you need and nothing you don’t, a back-to-basics machine that prioritizes hauling, towing and working over all else.
In Canada, the Mule Pro-FX EPS LE will set you back $20,499, while in the US it sells for $16,899.
If a dependable work partner is what you’re after, the Kawasaki Mule PRO-FX EPS LE is a machine worth considering.
More by Stephen Elmer