After a 12-year run of continual sales growth and industry leadership, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., is replacing the No. 1 selling Mule 2500 Series off-road utility vehicles with the all-new Mule 3000 Series for 2001.

More than just a name change, the two-wheel drive Mule 3000, four-wheel drive Mule 3010 and turf-friendly Mule 3020 feature dramatic new styling that incorporates ergonomically-placed controls and a host of changes designed to keep Kawasaki at the forefront of the utility vehicle market.

The all-new Mule 3000 Series features fashionable pickup truck styling for a strong and modern appearance.

At the touch of a button, the hood above the rugged-looking grille can be lifted to reveal a large storage compartment.

Fenders are bulged and rounded to provide additional protection from mud and debris. The cargo bed siderails are taller, and new lever latches grace the tailgate for easier operation.

And like all other Kawasaki utility vehicles, the Mule 3000, Mule 3010 and Mule 3020 each features a tiltable cargo bed, four-wheel independent suspension, fully automatic transmission and bench seat.

Complimenting the new look are ergonomically-placed, car-like controls. The forward-reverse shift lever is located within easy reach on the automotive-style dash; on the Mule 3010, one convenient lever also permits the operator to select forward or reverse as well as two-wheel or four-wheel drive operation.

A sturdy passenger-side grab rail is mounted to the cab frame, and a horn and 12VDC outlet are now standard. In addition, a new glove box has been designed into the dashboard and the parking brake and coolant temperature warning lights are easier to see.

Numerous changes have been made to the Mule 3000 Series engine and power train. Cooling for the 617cc 90-degree four-stroke V-twin engine has been improved by utilizing a larger radiator and fan. A new digital electronic ignition system optimizes spark timing; engine efficiency has been improved by use of a new double-barrel carburetor with dual intake tracts.

Transferring power from the Mule's engine is a new continuously variable transmission (CVT). In conjunction with the engine upgrades, the new CVT provides a wider ratio for more pulling power and quicker acceleration.

Other new features include mounting tabs on the frame for easy installation of a winch, 23-inch tires for the 3000 and 3010 models, stiffer springs on the independent strut-type front suspension and the color for the body work is molded in to help prevent scuffing.

Kawasaki conducted extensive market research to determine what demographic groups were buying utility vehicles and discovered that while the Mule is still popular with heavy industry and agriculture, there are several new groups buying Mule utility vehicles for lifestyle or recreational purposes.