Kawasaki, the manufacturer that created the side by side segment, is not resting on its laurels for 2006. While the competition introduces one machine after another in this growing segment, Kawasaki remains true to its working-class roots by introducing the Mule 3010 Trans4x4 Diesel ($9,999). After the success the manufacturer saw with the introduction of the gas-powered Mule 3010 Trans4x4, with the help of dealer input, it decided the market could sustain a diesel version of the same machine.
Many farmers, and job sites, have diesel fuel readily available, however regular gas can sometimes be hard to come by. And with fuel prices soaring, a diesel side by side could be a good bet.
As with the gas-powered version, this Mule Trans 4x4 has the capability to be converted from a cargo carrying vehicle to one which seats up to four passengers.
In the cargo-carrying capacity, users can load up to 800 pounds in the rear dump box and traverse terrain with 4x4 capability. The diesel engine puts out 38.3 ft-lbs. of torque at 2,800 rpm. The engine is also mated to a automatic CVT-type of transmission for easy operation. It also has the 2005 styling updates, too.
The cargo capacity is not all, however. As mentioned before, unlike other utility/side by side models on the market, the Mule 3010 Trans4x4 Diesel is designed to carry up to four passengers safely. The cargo bed folds to reveal two additional seats behind the front driver and passenger seats.
BRUTE FORCE 650 4X4I
Kawasaki knew it needed to enter the sport/utility 4x4 market with a machine that had independent rear suspension. So it did so, with the Brute Force 750 4x4i ($7,599). It still retained the solid rear axle Prairie 700 and Brute Force 650, however. In 2006, Kawasaki decided to make the Brute Force 650 an IRS machine, though.
Like the bigger 750, the Brute Force 650 ($6,599) now sports and independent, dual A-arm suspension with preload-adjustable shocks. That is not the extent of the updates, however. Kawasaki engineers also lightened the Brute Force 650 4x4i. The crankshaft is lighter, the exhaust shielding is made from aluminum, the transmission gears are lighter and there are other small changes, too.
The chassis also received updates for 2006. The front-end geometry has revised caster angles for lighter and more responsive steering. The spring rates and initial preload settings for the front suspension are revised for ride comfort as well. The seat also was redesigned with a softer foam insert.
The same 633cc, 90-degree V-twin - mated to an automatic CVT-type transmission - powers the Brute Force 650 4x4i. It will come cloaked in either Woodsman Green, Aztec Red, or Realtree Hardwoods Green HD camouflage.
REST OF THE LINEUP
Returning for 2006 are a host of Kawasaki models. On the sport ATV side are the KFX700, KFX400, KFX80 and KFX50. On the sport/utility side there is the Brute Force 750 4x4i, Prairie 700, Prairie 360 4x4, Prairie 360 and Bayou 250. The Mule lineup includes the Mule 600, 610 4x4, 3000, 3010 4x4, 3010, 3010 Diesel and 3010 Trans4x4 Diesel.
- Chaz Rice