Kawasaki Mules are widely known for being a workhorse UTV that can handle any chore. You’ve probably read about the flagship Pro FX and Pro FXT right here on OutdoorHub, so you know that they’ve been favorites of mine for some time now. They are one of the better choices for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, offering up a great deal of cargo capacity and power. For those that don’t need a machine as large as the Pro series, there is another option – the Kawasaki Mule SX XC.
Mule, Meet Son of Mule
The big thing you’ll notice right away is the size difference between the Pro series and the new Mule SX XC. It’s only 52 inches wide and just under 107 inches long. Yes, it will fit into the bed of a full-size pickup truck.
The cargo bed is all steel, with a textured floor to aid in keeping your gear where you put it. It tilts for easy cargo management, and there are rails built in that act as good tie-down points. There is also a pile of excellent Kawasaki accessories designed to go along with them. The bed has a 400-pound payload capacity, too.
Another thing you’ll notice is styling. The Mule SX looks much like the Pro models, and that’s no accident. It replaces the old 610 series, which was very dated. Kawasaki wants consumers to realize this is a new machine and it is part of the same family as the Pro series. What that means is better styling. You also get the same headlights as the Pro series, with the option of adding more.
Powering the SX is a 401cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine that has a surprising amount of torque. You’re not going to win any drag races with the SX, unless the other person is walking or riding a bike. Top speed is about 25 mph, but that is ok. You really wouldn’t want or need it to go any faster. The engine will pull though. Head up a steep hill and you think you’re going to run out of power, but the little Kawie keeps on chugging along. Even with a load of gear, the Mule keeps on going. The Kawasaki testing guys who beat the machines harder than anyone said they were amazed at how they could max out the 1,100-pound towing capacity and still the SX would crawl up and over some steep hills.
The Mule SX XC model has high and low range, with four-wheel drive and a locking rear differential. The controls are mechanical and very easy to use. The steering wheel is thick and fits your hands well. It is very solid and, most importantly, it tilts to fit all sizes of drivers. The bench seat is plush and you’ll find two lap belts for safety. And overall, the Mule is very comfortable and well built.
Other nice touches are the extremely high-centered air intake, which is on the top-rear of the roll cage. Good luck swamping out the engine on the Mule. There’s also a 16-gallon storage compartment under the front hood.
So Who Wants One?
The Mule SX XC isn’t a hardcore machine for working up food plots, but it’s an excellent platform for running sprayers, checking trail cameras or hauling gear back to a camp. How many other UTVs can you fit into the bed of your truck?
You can also trail ride with the Mule SX XC as long as you realize the limitations of having the smaller engine and only 3.1 inches of suspension travel. Trust me when I say you can max out the shocks pretty quick if you’re not careful.
A big factor in deciding if you want one is cost. There is a definite appeal to first-time buyers and especially retired people looking for something to help around the property. The Realtree camo SX XC I tested runs $9,049, while the standard XC is $8,399. The base model two-wheel-drive SX starts off at only $7,299 and the top-end SX XC Special Edition model runs $9,399.
And then there are those accessory packages. You can get a complete hard-cabin package with steel doors, roof and a glass windshield. There is a hunting package with gun scabbards, cargo accessories, a brush guard, winch and more. You can also add a fabric cabin package in full Realtree Xtra Green. Kawasaki also offers work, recreation and even a plow package along with over 60 accessories ready to go right from the dealership.
I can easily see the Mule SX XC being a big hit with outfitters looking for an easy-to-use machine that can transport a hunter back to a stand, as well as do a lot of chores around the property. I can also see it being very appealing to an older hunter needing a little extra mobility. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of reasons why an outdoor enthusiast would want one of the new 2017 Kawasaki Mule SX UTVs. Go check one out for yourself!
Images by Craig Watson and Kevin Wing