Wheels Afield: Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT
August 29, 2014
Google Kawasaki's latest offering, the PRO-FXT, and you will find dozens of reviews floating around the Web. This should not be a surprise. I was just at Kawasaki's test ride with a "freeload" of outdoor writers. (Like a sounder of pigs or a gaggle or geese, a freeload of outdoor writers is the correct term.)
So it stands to reason that the Web would be alive with technical articles on Kawasaki's newest machine. While I can write technical as well as the next guy, unless you are a motor journalist, gear junky, or an industry insider, who really wants to read an entire article composed of specs, numbers, and acronyms?
You (like me) want to know what this machine will do that will help you as a hunter. So I have outlined all the features the King of Mules brings to the table and provided a glimpse of what a year in a sportsman's life would be like if you owned the Mule PRO-FXT. Check it out:
It's time both to get chores done and plant food plots. This is tough, backbreaking work that separates the men from the boys or, in this case, the professional-grade side by sides from the soft and weak. Many vehicles are made cheaply, without longevity in mind, to hit a price point. Not so with the Mule. I was sincerely impressed by the Kawasaki plant in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was state of the art and staffed by 1,300 hard-working Americans who take pride in what they do and don't cut corners.
The Mule's ladder-style frame is welded, not bolted, for a lifetime of hard work. The bed is crafted from all steel for toughness. The engine is a new 812cc DOHC three cylinder providing 48 ft-kb of torque for serious pulling power. The entire machine, bumper-to-bumper, is backed by a three-year warranty — that is a first in an industry where most manufacturers offer a six-month to one-year warranty.
That's what a year in a sportsman's life looks like with the new Mule PRO-FXT. Now simply wash, rinse, and repeat.
As winter turns to spring, we all get a bit stir crazy. The ice is too thin to fish safely, but it is still too cold to start working on the hunting property. Of course, as a smart hunter you opted for the Realtree Xtra Green Kawasaki Mule, so it is not inconceivable that a few coyote stands can be made right out of the Mule parked in the sage brush. For night predator hunting, the four 12-volt outlets makes running electronic calls and spotlights easy. For navigating around the predator fields after dark, Kawasaki listened to their customers and added some serious lighting up front with two 55/60-watt sealed beam halogen lights plus two additional high-output LEDs.
After stretching some fur, it is time to sit in front of the fire with the laptop and shop online for accessories for the PRO-FXT. Luckily, the accessory lineup for this machine is staggering. With dozens upon dozens of specific aftermarket parts, there is surely something you will want to add before summer rolls around. From Kolpin gun boots to bed storage boxes, Warn winches, brush guards and cargo bed lifts, you can spend hours on Kawasaki's website playing with their 'œaccessory builder' function. Build it, add it up, swipe the card, and ask for forgiveness later'¦it's that simple.
After Colorado's elk season wraps up and winter sets in, it's time to hit the fields along the North Platte River in Nebraska for honkers. This is where the fully enclosed cab, the accessory heater, and the ability to tow up to 2,000 pounds (read: enclosed trailer full of deeks) comes in mighty handy.
After the hunting season ends, this setup would make an excellent ice fishing machine simply by adding the snowplow on the front. Tow an ice house to the middle of the lake and plow a road through the foot-deep snow with the specifically designed Warn plow and winch that attaches directly to the frame for utmost in strength. Stay warm in the process. The only thing it won't do is fillet a bucket of perch'¦.
'¢ 812cc 3-cylinder fuel-injected engine
'¢ 48 ft-kb of torque
'¢ Independent front and rear suspension
'¢ Four wheel disc brakes
'¢ Electric Power Steering (EPS)
'¢ 8.7 inches of suspension travel
'¢ 2,000 lb. maximum towing capacity
'¢ Steel cargo bed with 1,000 lb. max rating
'¢ Hydraulically assisted cargo bed tilt function
One of the coolest hunting features I found on the PRO-FXT was the Trans Cab. The Trans Cab allows the Mule to be converted from a six-seater with a 350-pound-capacity bed to a three-seater with a 1,000-pound-capacity bed. And it's simple, as about anyone can walk around the vehicle once, flip a couple of latches, and convert the PRO-FXT from a six-seater to a three-seater with an extended cargo bed. It takes less than a minute.
This is huge'¦think about it. One weekend you are hunting South Dakota with a group of buddies. There is very little cargo, other than dog boxes and dead pheasants, but there must be room for six rotund gents to ride in comfort from cornfield to cornfield. The following weekend you are hunting Colorado's rifle season for elk. It's just you and a buddy, but you need to have the space to hopefully haul out a dead bull. Did I mention the tilting cargo bed can carry a 1,000-pound payload? Yeah, that will work for the biggest trophy.