Reviewed: 2018 Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXR

The Kawasaki Mule has never been tailored towards the go-fast-have-fun crowd, but a new model has joined the mix aimed straight for trail riders. 

The new 2018 Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXR has been shortened compared to the regular PRO-FX to make sure it fits down tight trails easier. The wheelbase has been shrunk down to 79.7-inches (2025 mm), about 13 inches (330 mm) shorter than a standard Mule PRO-FX. Overall length is down about 12 inches (304 mm) to a total of 121 inches (3085 mm), almost all of which comes out of the bed.

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Width for this machine stays the same at 64-inches (1625 mm) wide. And because it is so wide, the shorter wheelbase makes a considerable difference when this Mule gets into a tight spot. Turning radius is also improved on this model, which helps when weaving through tight trees.

The downside of that wheelbase is this Mule can fall victim to bucking from front-to-back when you start hitting wide open trails at high speeds. The suspension offers 8.7-inches of travel, enough to allow plenty of fun, as long as the speeds aren’t crazy and the holes aren’t too big. And don’t forget, the Mule can still tow 2,000-lbs (907 kg) or haul 1,000-lbs (453 kg) of payload in its bed, so the suspension remains stiff so it can be ready to help.

The liquid-cooled, 812CC in-line triple produces 47 hp and 48 lb-ft of torque, and it feels strong in the low rev range. This unit is not built for all-out speed, but that doesn’t mean the power doesn’t pull strongly, with little to no vibration or shake coming through to the occupants. CVT engagement is also extremely smooth, contributing to a premium feeling as you take off.

Arriving standard with the FXR package are the plastic doors and roof seen on our test model, providing good coverage from wetness whether from the clouds or the ground.

This machine might not be the most powerful in its segment, and it can’t haul the most, but everything about this Kawasaki feels premium and over-built, leaving us with a sense that it’s put together a little better than some other side-by-sides out there.

Pricing for the Mule PRO-FXR begins at $14,999 in the US and $17,999 in Canada.

For our full thoughts on this Kawasaki Mule model, watch the video embedded above.