New MULE Comes to the Trail, Farm

Kawasaki Adds Speed to Its Dependable 'Utility' MULE

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Kawasaki announces MULE PRO-1000s for model year 2024 with 999cc engines, easy service, more ground clearance, new automatic leveling and trail-hugging speed and maneuverability. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo)

There's no other way to say it: It was hot -- almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit at the 1,500-acre Wildcatter Ranch outside Graham, Texas. A dozen of Kawasaki's new 2024 MULE PR0-FXT 1000/PRO-FXR 1000 series side-by-sides kicked up dust on trails seldom flat, but thoroughly strewn with rocks large and small, and cut by deep ruts.

Kawasaki MULES have a reputation for dependability and utility around the ranch and farm and innovations, like the highly useful, no-tool Trans Cab System that borrows a bit of bed space to turn a three-passenger MULE into one that holds six, in 60 seconds. The rear bench is mounted a bit higher than the front for better rear-passenger viewing.

Utility is a word Kawasaki uses for its long lines of MULES. MULES haul loads of 1,000 lbs. in the bed and 2,000 lbs. behind with a 2-inch hitch. Even attached to its new 2024 PRO 1000 series models, utility appears again, in print. "Target Customer -- Primary Utility," gets a line in its product presentation.

But speed and trail riding have not been words often associated with MULES. Kawasaki is changing that. Its 2024 MULE PRO 1000 series -- 999cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel twin engine rubber-mounted to a ladder-type construction frame -- definitely adds speed and quick maneuverability to the MULE vocabulary.

Kawasaki does not say exactly how fast these MULES are, but fellow riders claimed 55 mph -- and a bit more -- on Wildcatter trails. (I hit 48 mph on my PRO-FXT 1000 as I slide-slid by a new section of trail the group was turning onto.) Kawasaki does say these 2024 machines have 49% more horsepower, 30% increase in speed and, importantly for ranch and farm work, a 27% ft-lb. increase in torque over 2023 models. They run a good distance, too, with 7.9 gallons of fuel capacity.

The two-wheel-drive/four-wheel-drive/rear differential lock MULE PRO 1000 brings more suspension travel to both work and trail riding (2.3 inches front, 1.6 inches rear) and a new 1.4 inches of standard ground clearance. This MULE stands on a work/ride-stable wide chassis and compact wheelbase. With its continuously variable transmission (CVT), front and rear disc brakes, dual A-Arm suspension, and twin tube shock absorbers, the PRO 1000s stick to the trail -- a smooth, gliding ride where the trail allows it and confidence-building drivability over some fairly challenging technical portions of the trail (steep downhill, loose and large rocks, deep ruts).

A first-time-ever option Kawasaki brought to its PRO 1000s is automatic self-leveling rear suspension. The feature is fully contained in the shock body and uses mechanical energy when the MULE is moving to pump oil from low pressure to high pressure. Self-leveling retains good ride height front to rear when the MULE is carrying a heavy load. Self-leveling rear suspension is available on the MULE PRO-FX 1000 HD edition, FXT Ranch Edition and FXT Platinum Ranch edition.

Kawasaki thought through the service work on this MULE.

The air filter is larger than previous models, increasing the filter service cycle from 50 hours to 200 hours. Access to the filter is gained by flipping open clips holding the filter cover, which is located under the bed at the side of the machine. Kawasaki moved the MULE's air intake to a position up to the level of the bed. It ingests cleaner air there and reduces the amount of dust reaching the filter.

The dipstick is positioned for quick maintenance checks. The oil filter is easy to remove by hand or wrench. Oil dripping from the downward-facing filter is caught in a catch pan.

Here are other features:

-- Cargo bed. The MULE PRO-FXT 1000 cargo bed in the three-passenger configuration measures 42.7 inches deep by 53.6 inches wide by 10.9 inches high and has 1,000 pounds of capacity. In a six-passenger configuration, the bed measures 22.0 by 53.6 by 10.9 inches and has a capacity of 350 pounds. The PRO-FX 1000 cargo bed is 54.1 by 53.3 by 11 inches (1,000-pound load). PRO-FXR is 37.5 by 53.3 by 11.0 inches (1,000-pound load).

-- Bus bar. Provides easy connections for electrical accessories (eliminates the need for an accessory fuel box).

-- Heat shield. A heat shield is located behind the radiator and directs hot air down and away from passengers.

-- Power steering. Turning the (tilting) wheel initiates assistance. The electronic control unit uses speed inputs and a torque sensor to determine needed steering assistance from the system's electric motor.

-- Storage. Depending on the model, there can be as many as six cupholders in the cabin. The dash holds a locked glove box and three dashboard pockets (left, center, right). A steel-plate-protected storage bin is located under the driver's seat. The PRO FXT-1000 Platinum Edition and PRO FX-1000 HD offer a second storage bin under the center passenger seat.

-- Power. Two DC sockets in the dashboard supply up to 120W for accessories. The PRO-FXT 1000 models feature two additional sockets for 120W for rear passenger use.

-- Lights. Light the night with compact, two 35W outer headlights (LEDs optional) and two inner LEDs.

The 2024 MULE PRO 1000 series lineup includes the PRO-FX HD edition, PRO-FXR (standard and LE), PRO-FXT (standard and LE), LE Ranch, Platinum Ranch and LE Camo with new TrueTimber Strata camouflage. Suggested manufacturer's retail prices range from $16,599 for the PRO-FXR 1000 to $23,399 for the Platinum Ranch.

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Dan Miller