Diesel Power: Driving the Kawasaki Mule DX and DXT

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Kawasaki has released the Mule Pro-DX and Pro DXT diesel versions of the off road side-by-side utility vehicles we covered in 2014. Last time we visited the plant in Lincoln, NE and got a chance to learn about the manufacturing techniques, get the point that Kawasaki’s off road vehicles are made in America and drive the Mule side-by-sides.

The Mule Pro-DX and Pro-DXT diesel versions launched in December and I recently traveled to a ranch outside San Antonio to try out the new vehicles. The Diesel engines offer improved torque compared to the gasoline-powered models, making them well-suited to everyday, serious farm, ranch or industrial work.

The diesel engine provides greater fuel efficiency than the gasoline engine but it tops out at 30mph instead of the 45mph speed achieved by the gas model. Kawasaki planned a day of demonstrations that showcase the reasons why the lack of speed is more than compensated for by the improved power.

It may have taken a while to get these models to market, but the new diesel engine meets the EPA’s rigrous Tier 4 emissions standards for off-road vehicles. It’s a 993cc inline 3-cylinder diesel with 38 ft. lbs engine torque at 2400rpm and it’s desgined to hold peak torque longer. The engine starts more reliably in cold weather than the gasoline version.

The DX is the Mule’s 2-seater, while the DXT is Kawasaki’s trans cab model that offers the option between a larger cargo bed or a second row of seats. The new DXT model shares all the easy conversion features found in the FXT models: it’s easier to convert these vehicles than it is to fold down the seats in most SUVs.

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The demonstration included several stations to show off the Mule’s diesel capabilities. Pulling a drag bar to level an open field was effortless. The Mule has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity and a pushbutton differential lock, but the diff. lock wasn’t needed to complete this task.

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Towing a trailer with bales of hay was the real surprise of the day. The DXT seemed to pull the load with zero effort and it effectively handled braking going down a hill.

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The Mule DX and DXT have been engineered to work with a Warn Blade 72″ consumer grade plow blade, something that allows buyers to add the option for $400-$760, depending on the model of winch you want with the blade.

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The plow blade isn’t commercial grade but it would be more than adequate for plowing snow for most users. At the ranch, we all used the plow to move around mulch piles and got the sense that snow wouldn’t be an issue. The plow’s height and angle is adjusted by a joystick in the cab that controls the winch. This Mule also had the hard cab enclosure option.

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While tearing around in the diesel DX isn’t quite as much fun as in the speedy FX models, it’s still fun to drive and easily handled the trails laid out on the ranch.

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The final demo was hauling a fully loaded bed. The 20 sq. ft. cargo bed has a 1000 lb. capacity and has a steel bed instead of plastic for greater durability. There’s a dump assist cylinder that can be upgraded with an optional hydraulic option. The DXT shares the 1000 lb. capacity with the back row of theater seats folded down and a 350 lb. capacity when the seats are engaged.

With a full load, the DX handled almost as if it was empty: the added diesel torque really is impressive.

The prices range from $13,200 to $15,900. The Kawasaki website can give you details on the full range of options and connect you with a local dealer for a test drive.

Kawasaki off-road vehicles are made in Nebraska and are built by Americans. If you need an off-road vehicle that can handle a workload, have a look at these.