We joined Kawasaki at Hearst Ranch outside San Luis Obispo, California, where we put the 2018 Mule Pro FXR through its paces, traversing the sprawling 80,000-acre property. The first thing we noticed about the Mule was the curb appeal. Even before we got mud on the tires, the fierce grille styling, bumpers, and integrated headlight bezels drew some attention.
Instead of bucking and kicking on the trails, the Mule handled the bumps and rocks smoothly, compliments of the electronic power steering system, which gave us the feeling we were driving a sedan on the highway.
Sure it was fun cruising the rolling two tracks across Hearst Ranch, but we really wanted to see how the Mule handled when the trail got rough. When we needed extra torque traversing a boulder-strewn creek bed, the Mule was ready with some low-end giddy up available at the flip of a dashboard switch. Even with two tires off the ground, the Mule’s locking differentials kept us at a trotting pace while we climbed some loose dirt ledges out of the creek. Though the Mule doesn’t have the sky-high clearance of a typical 4x4, the aggressive approach angles and skidplates kept us from getting hung up on the trickier obstacles.
With a 1,000-pound carrying capacity and the power to tow up to 2,000 pounds at the hitch, the Mule barely tugged at the reins when we stacked it high with hay bales and firewood at the barn. Likewise, the 3-cylinder 812cc engine had no problem hauling the loads and two passengers up the steepest ranch roads. Need help unloading the hay at the stables? The dumping cargo bed made that task a breeze, while the steel-lined floor resisted scratching and dents.
What’s that? You want accessories? Kawasaki has you covered with OEM-certified products ranging from winches and bumpers to thumpin’ sound systems and LED lightbars.