Kawasaki Introduces Compact Mule SX Family for 2017

May. 19, 2016 By Josh Burns, Photos Courtesy of Kawasaki

Today, Kawasaki announced its off-road vehicle lineup for 2017, and the most noteworthy addition is the addition of the new Mule SX family of compact UTVs.

The SX moniker is explained by Kawasaki to denote small and strong, starting, “the S stands for small; the X stands for strong.” Kawasaki, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the U.S. this year, says this new line of compact Mules appeals to those looking for a affordable work machine.

There will be seven new offerings in the Mule SX family: Mule SX, Mule SX 4×4, Mule SX 4×4 SE, Mule SX XC, Mule SC 4×4 XC, Mule SX 4×4 XC Camo, Mule SX 4×4 XC SE.

Kawasaki notes that the Mule SX models will all fit into the back of a half-ton pickup truck. The Mule SX will be powered by an air-cooled four-stroke 401cc engine that produces a claimed 21.7 lb-ft of torque at 2400 rpm. To aid in keeping costs low, Kawasaki ditches the more expensive electronic fuel injection and instead will rely on a carburetor to provide fuel/air mixture to the engine. A belt-driven automatic transmission features a Hi-Lo dual-range transfer case, giving the driver the control to best handle the terrain at hand.

Kawasaki employs a snorkel intake that is routed through the tubing of the ROPS (Roll Over Protection Structure) to provide air to the engine, though don’t expect the Mule SX to break any speed records, because this work-focused side-by-side is limited to a top speed of 25 mph.

For additional traction on the farm or job site, each Mule SX model is equipped with a lockable rear differential. The 4x4 models are equipped with a dash-mounted switch to toggle between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

Storage will be important to Mule SX buyers, and Kawasaki claims the Mule can carry up to 400 lbs. in the rear cargo bed. A diamond-pate design is featured in the bed, with a scratch-resistant black surface helping to keep things in place. The bed also tilts to unload cargo and provide engine access. When it comes to towing, the Mule SX features a 1,100-pound towing capacity.

Mule SX models are built around a ladder-type tubular steel frame. Rack-and-pinion is standard on all models and electronic power steering is not available. Independent MacPherson strut front suspension doles out a conservative 3.1 inches of travel, as does the swingarm rear suspension. The Mule SX rides on 22-inch tires, while the SX 4×4 and SX 4×4 SE feature 24-inch tires wrapped around 10-inch wheels.

Kawasaki also helps keeps costs down by skipping disc brakes and providing the new Mules with rear drum brakes - which likely isn’t a deal breaker since this is a work rig and not so much a trail UTV. Even still, Kawasaki provides protection from debris with skid plates for the front differential, engine and rear differential.

All Mule SX XC models come standard with four-wheel drive, larger 12-inch wheels and 26-inch tires. A camouflage option is also available. The flagship of the Mule SX family is the Mule SX 4×4 XC SE, which features aluminum wheels, sun top, underseat compartment and four LED headlights. Ground clearance is 6.1 inches on the SX two-wheel drive models, 6.7 inches on the SX four-wheel drive models and 8.1 inches on XC models.

Kawasaki hails that 16 gallons of storage space is found in the front, with easy access to its thanks to the removable lid. The cockpit also features retractable seatbelts, cargo screen and weather-resistant seat material.

Kawasaki says that more than 50 Kawasaki Genuine Accessories are available for new SX Series. Head over to Kawasaki.com to see the complete list of parts available.

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