Diesel power and utility in a multifunctional platform

By Joel Moranton

Kawasaki has taken their Mule line of UTVs to the next level with the Pro Diesel Series, giving the market a great utility vehicle for hunters, ranchers, and anyone ready to get some work done. With the new 2016 models, you can now haul a heavier load and tow more weight while bringing more workers to the job site. Available in a three seater PRO-DX model with 54”x53” cargo area or the six-seater PRO-DXT model that can transform to provide a back seat or give you more cargo area. Then you can really dial it in for your needs with over 65 available factory accessory options.

What other UTV on the market can you fit a standard size pallet in the back of it weighing up to 1000 pounds? The Kawasaki PRO-DX has 20 square feet of cargo area that can easily be lifted to dump the load with a lift assist cylinder or optional hydraulic dump. The PRO-DXT has a slightly smaller cargo area but has the same load capacity. It is smaller because it has the awesome ability to transform from a three seater with full cargo area to a six-seater with a small cargo area. The transformation takes less than a minute and the seats are stored in the unit so there is no worry about losing pieces. Even with a small cargo area in the six-seater configuration, it can still dump the cargo area. This gives the PRO-DXT a huge variety of uses including a large hunting party, moving crew around the job site, getting your hunting blind into position or hauling building supplies. Both the PRO-DX and PRO-DXT feature a sturdy diamond-plate cargo bed floor and steel headache racks attached to the cargo area to separate the cargo from the passengers. The cargo area bed sides have integrated steel cargo rails that can use the optional Kawasaki quick release mounts.

The towing capability of these two units is also very impressive. A standard two-inch receiver hitch is built into the frame allowing you to tow up to 2000 lbs. Kawasaki knows that is not enough just to build a strong frame with a hitch receiver, it needs to have the power plant to pull the weight and a way to control that power. A 4-stroke, 993cc, 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, diesel engine that puts out 38-foot pounds of torque gives the Kawasaki Mules plenty of power. For those of you that have never driven a UTV and you are reading the 38-foot pounds of torque as a low number remember this is a vehicle that weights 1,800 pounds not 7,000 pounds like your full-sized truck. The Kawasaki Mule can handle itself with a load better than you would think. This is because with the power of the diesel engine Kawasaki used a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The CVT allows the engine to put power to the wheels faster than other transmissions allowing for great throttle response and less belt wear. It is designed to mate perfectly to the 4-stoke diesel engine and engage through a large RPM range to provide impressive low range and middle range torque. This also provides a natural engine brake on sloped terrain. During slow precise maneuvers like attaching a trailer, the CVT really shines, allowing smooth and consistent acceleration.

The Kawasaki Mule utilizes a two-speed transfer case that is controlled electronically, allowing you to shift from two-wheel drive and high range to four-wheel drive and low-range. A simple switch on the dash controls 2WD to 4WD then High, Low, Neutral, and Reverse is controlled with a shifter on the CVT. It also comes standard with a selectable rear differential locker that is also controlled by a switch on the dash. This gives the driver the option of a normal open differential that will minimize damage to delicate terrain by putting power to only one wheel when turning or to lock in the power going to both rear wheels when in muddy or slippery terrain.

To stop this Mule is a four wheel disc brakes system designed to handle and perform when fully loaded down. The steering uses a speed-variable power steering system that adjusts the power assist depending on the speed you are moving. During low speed, the system provides the most power assist when the wheels have the most turning resistance. This system also reduces bump steering caused by large bumps or rocks in your path.

A square tube steel frame uses a ladder type construction. Kawasaki packed all of these features in a short wheelbase of 92.3” giving the Mule an impressive turning radius of 16ft. A fully independent suspension provides a smooth ride with 8.7” of wheel travel and 10” of ground clearance. The suspension uses twin-tube shock absorbers that have five preloaded adjustable settings to allow you to easily adjust the suspension for your uses. If you know are just going to be cruising around you can set to the lowest for the smoothest ride, then when it is time to loaded it down and haul a lot of weight set the preload high to help handle the weight. When winter is on its way and you put the snow plow on you can just adjust the front to compensate for the weight. The combination of the ground clearance and short base gives the Kawasaki Mule great break over, approach and departure angles, reducing the frequency of scrapping on difficult terrain. If the worst should happen the roll cage is designed to comply with International Standard Organization 3471 rating. ISO 3471 is the most prevalent standard for most types of earthmoving machinery. It specifies the structural performance requirements for a ROPS (Roll Over Protective Structure) system. ISO 3471 requires a push test to certify a ROPS system. The requirements are force resistance in the lateral, vertical and longitudinal directions, and energy absorption in the lateral direction.

The interior of the Kawasaki Mule is spacious to comfortably fits three to six full-sized adults with plenty of leg and head room. The front and rear seat have thick foam bench seats that fit three adults on each row with 3-point seat belts for all passengers. They come standard with doors making it easy to get in and out of. There are factory optional full doors and windshield to make a fully enclosed cab. The Kawasaki Mule provides a great driving experience for any size driver with the help of a tilt column steering wheel and all the switches close to the driver on the dash. There are two 12 volt outlets for charging or running electronic devices like cell phones, GPS, or tablets. They run off the battery that is charged by a 55-amp alternator giving plenty of power. In the center of the dash is the LCD instrument display that will give you, speed, odometer, hour meter, fuel gauge, trip meter, 4WD indicator and more. There are also two cup holders, of course!

Kawasaki built this Mule for work and reliability, but everyone knows a major part of reliability is maintenance. This is why Kawasaki designed the Mule to be easy to work on. All of the electrical fuses and wires are easy to get to right under the hood. Pop of a side panel and all your daily fluid checks and oil filter is right there. Lift up the cargo bed and you will see the dual fuel filter system that is designed to separate the water and oil for them fuel.

The Kawasaki Mule PRO-DX and PRO-DXT are the perfect addition to any homestead, ranch, or hunter’s garage. The diesel engine has the power to handle 1000 pound of cargo and 2000 in tow. It also means if you do not need to store another type of fuel, your truck, tractor and Kawasaki Mule can all run on diesel. The versatility of the PRO-DXT being able to transport six adults or have a large cargo are is invaluable. With all the factory accessory options available you can dial your Mule in for hunting, construction, farms and more. Build your Kawasaki Mule at www.kawasaki.com.

Custom Rock slider with retractable rock steps were built to follow the body lines and keep the classic look. Special thanks to Rock Slide Engineering for going above and beyond.

Built to be a clean daily driver, Mike’s Willy’s can still flex out and handle the more difficult trails.

Poison Spyder rear bumper holds the full sized spare tire and protects the rear from damage.

Only a true Jeep Willy’s enthusiast will notice that the grill, hood, and fenders have been widened to fit the modern engine.

It is always the little details on trucks like this that make the biggest difference. Most of the time they make the truck look so clean you do not really notice them until they are pointed out. Did you notice the Jeep JK mirrors and door handles we used?

With the spare tire attached to the Poison Spyder rear bumper we can get a good look at the restored hub cap. Each rim got a beautifully restored hub cab, custom made to fit the modern rims.

Mike and his wife drove his restoration from Canada to Moab, Utah, for Easter Jeep Safari where we were able to photograph his truck.

The Rock Krawler Suspension allows this old Willy’s to out-perform any stock Jeep.

This old Willy’s was not this capable and clean when it rolled off the assembly line in 1955.

One of Mike’s goals for the build was to be able to wheel through his local trail system, but to also be able to wheel this classic truck in Moab was incredible.

The burnt reddish-colored Willy’s looks at home here in Moab against the red slick rock.

We could have spent days photographing this truck out in Moab. There are so many details on this truck – and everything was done perfectly.

On the inside the custom leather interior was died to match the paint color. Throughout the truck, shotgun shell brass and bullets were incorporated. Another hub cap was also integrated into the interior.

Even the roof got a handcrafted storage compartment with integrated lights.

Our favorite detail on this truck was the use of the factory Jeep JK dash. This gives this classic truck all the luxuries of a brand new truck.

Even the gas can was painted to match with chrome hold downs.

One of the few non-Jeep parts incorporated into Mike’s build was the classic Ford taillights.

Rear disc brakes, all the running gear of a brand new Jeep JK with Rock Karwler Suspension.

Here are the custom Rock Slide Engineering drop-down steps.

The end caps of the bed, front and rear, have shotgun brass caps.

The front hood ornament has another piece of shotgun brass in the center. New modern JW speaker headlights.

Poison Spyder front bumper shows everyone this truck may be pretty, but it can also handle anything that comes in its path.

Poison Spyder front bumper shows everyone this truck may be pretty, but it can also handle anything that comes in its path.