2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX EPS LE Review + Video
Building a strong Utility vehicle that is meant for off-road as well as hard work is a competitive business these days. Kawasaki has accepted the challenge to improve upon the current offerings and in the model year 2015 it pulled out the biggest Mule to date with the Pro-FXT six-passenger machine and then again in 2016 the three-passenger Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX came on the scene.
The Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX, built on the same chassis as its six-passenger brother, is a hard working animal and is simply tough as nails. These Mules scream to the industrial commercial world of labor as well as the homeowner who wants a good base for those tough days working around the property. Not to mention they are ready for any exploration you can throw its way.
Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to really put ATV.com’s long term loaner 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX to the grindstone with some trail riding, work and towing to get a more in-depth feel for the versatility of this rig. Our 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX EPS is dressed in the LE package and this gives the owner a little more than the base unit. The LE Mule will come with a full roof, deluxe wheels, LED light pods in addition to the halogen beams that come with every Mule. This model also comes with Kawasaki’s electronic power steering.
The very first place you will realize the comforts of this rig is inside the cab. Looking the interior of the new Mule PRO-FX EPS is very similar to the six-passenger version in the PRO-FXT. Of course space is utilized for a fixed size steel bed in place of the convertible bed system. So Kawasaki simply removed the second row of seats. With a long bench-style seat and backrest, occupants can easily enter and exit from either side of the Mule. Holding onto the steering wheel was made both comfortable and accommodating with the availability of 40 degrees of tilt steering. The steering is made even more comfortable on our power steering-equipped model. Unsure of why tilt steering was not available for non-EPS models, it could possibly be that it is reflected in an upgrade or optional add-on version of the Mule PRO-FX.
During my time in the Mule I did notice the seats to be very comfortable even though I had reservations prior to my trip through the mountains. The trail system was rugged and filled with drainage ditches, as well as stumps, rocks and downed trees. Being able to sit still on the flat bench was my concern and after a few hours in the saddle it was clear that the seat was quite capable of keeping me relatively planted. I thought going in that on higher speed and more spirited riding the driver or passenger would simply slide around on the flat bench. Though this was not the case, I think it would still be even better with a bit of bolstering to individualize the seating.
The power of this machine comes from a stout 812cc fuel injected engine, yet the delivery is very linear and seems a bit reserve. Pumping out 48 lb-ft of torque, the triple cylinder has plenty of grunt. From a working standpoint this engine tows with ease and seemed to have no trouble pulling our trailer. The rating for the two-inch receiver is upwards of 2,000 lbs, so we tried to get close to see what those extreme loads felt like behind the wheel. These beds are rated to carry 1,000 behind the driver and passengers. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to fill the bed for this test, but the steel diamond plate bed surface still screams tough.
In terms of towing heavy weight, I hardly even felt the resistance from the trailer. The steel, cinderblocks and foundation cribbage loaded into the trailer were really no match for the Mule’s determination. Using the dual mode rear differential, it allowed us to have both rear wheels pulling when the fields got sloppy. When I needed it, the turf mode differential allowed for a more delicate trip across sensitive terrain. This allow the driver to prevent damage to the property by disengaging or unlocking the rear diff so each wheel could turn independently.
Out on the trail some one of the things that stuck out to us was the long wheelbase, which was evident when crossing water breaks. The longer wheelbase does tend to rub the belly on the water break, but it also allows the platform to be more stable and pretty comfortable in the rough trails. This Mule really surprised us for overall comfort and steady control on the trail.
Kawasaki’s 212mm dual disc and dual piston calipers take care of the front braking, while on the rear dual single piston calipers on the same 212mm discs cover the stopping power. My experience on the trails was in an unloaded machine and no tow weight, but the brakes functioned really well. When loaded the sheer weight behind me was noticeable, but getting the Mule Pro-FX EPS slowed to a stop did not seem to even resonate in our minds.
If you are like me and you love to wrench on your own vehicle, then you will appreciate the vast space offered under the bed to service the triple-cylinder engine. Simply unlatch the bed on both sides and with the help of a gas charged shock the steel bed is easily raised to approximately 45 degrees or more. There is even a small brace stowed in the front of the bed that secures to the protective structure to keep the bed up and secure. All of the electronics or the brains of the Mule are located under the hood for easy service as well.
Another thing that seemed to catch my attention was the vast space under the seating. There is a massive area under the front seat that might be a great place for storage boxes.
Overall the 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX gave us days of comfortable riding and the workload had surely been eased with this machine’s capabilities. I might have forgotten to mention the engine’s ability to simply sip on the available fuel. I’d say this machine will make many owners very happy.