With an uptick in the economy, consumers are once again looking for an escape. And while there remain the traditional avenues – travel, dining and marijuana – few industries serve escapism quite as well as the powersports industry. Typically described as this broad combo of motorcycles, personal watercraft and ATVs, no one (arguably) supplies the category better than Kawasaki Heavy Industries. And if you’re looking for what is described by the marketing types as a Side X Side, few choices will prove more flexible – or reliable – than Kawasaki’s Mule.
Historically the Mule, especially in its 4-5 passenger, 4010 guise, is the ranch or farm workhorse, with an uncanny ability to haul people and their stuff to the Back 40. But in getting there, know that you’ll be getting there slowly; the current Mule’s speed is governed to roughly 25 miles per hour. And while its V-Twin enjoys an abundance of torque, there’s little reward in putting the pedal to the metal; a prolonged ride is eerily reminiscent of my ’66 Volkswagen, whose 4th gear went before I was given the Bug…and never replaced.
Regardless of what might be perceived as negatives, the Mule has soldiered on (it’s available in Camo) to become the green standard for Side X Side enthusiasts. Or, at the very least, those enthusiasts not interested in winning Baja. And that bar is raised considerably with the introduction of a new Mule PRO-FXT. Building on the success(es) of the 4010, the new Mule PRO-FXT offers 3-cylinder power, enhanced ground clearance, and a Transformer-like conversion from 3-passenger to 6-passenger mode in something like a millisecond. Or maybe it’s one minute, but without tools!
With a curb weight of under 2,000 pounds, a wheelbase of 92.3 inches and stone-axe simplicity, this could be seen as a rebirth of – and viable alternative to – Jeep’s venerable CJ. The new Mule arrives in Kawasaki dealerships later this summer. And let the good times roll…