First Look: New Kawasaki Brute Force 300

Last month I attended the unveiling of Kawasaki's new 2012 Brute Force 300 at Mines & Meadows ATV-RV Resort in Wampum, Pennsylvania. Mines & Meadows is 650 sprawling acres with 60-miles of trails. Offering a full spectrum of skill-levels, trails range from beginner to highly-advanced; providing riding enthusiasts with challenges to match their specific skill-level. The Brute Force 300 was up to the challenge and proved to be a quick nimble machine. This quad would be at home in hunting camp, at the farm or on the trail. Here are the details ...
Kawasaki's Vince Iorio points out the many outstanding features of the Brute Force 300. The build is large, with a steel double-cradle frame. A double wishbone front suspension and rear swing arm convert trail nasties into a cushy ride. With 6.1-inches of ground clearance, the Brute easily steps over obstacles.
The 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 300 is an economy-minded sport utility ATV with a surprisingly large footprint. The Brute has a 271cc SOHC, liquid-cooled, Keihin aspirated four-stroke engine that thunders boldly through a wide power band stretching across the entire RPM range.
The terrain at Mines & Meadows varied greatly. A challenge for any off-road operator and their machine. Recent rains made the trails particularly muddy.
I'm 6' 5" and weigh 265 pounds, so I was concerned the Brute, a mid-sized ATV (75.3" long; 42.5" wide; 33.3" seat height), would be small and underpowered for such a load. To the contrary, the Kawasaki's power plant provided ample, responsive power for any trail condition.
Ultra-crisp throttle response in any rev-range makes the Brute Force 300 an entertaining ride for beginner or seasoned trail hopper. Nimble steering kept the Brute tracking seamlessly over the unruly terrain.
The Brute's level-attitude; acquiescent of large-bore haulers, is achieved with aggressive 22-inch Maxxis tubeless grips with directional, self-cleaning lugs. These grabbers worked the wet, muddy trails with ease―parting the slushiest of slime.
When nosed into soggy, soppy, over-the-headlights, into-the-boot-deep mud, the Brute Force 300 rumbled through without taking a heavy breath. More impressive, the Brute is a two-wheel drive vehicle.
An abandoned limestone mine is a favorite attraction; one our team couldn't resist exploring. The flooded interior is pitch black with no ambient light penetrating.
While stopping to hydrate after hours of tough trail riding―it became apparent the drawbacks of trying to sip water through a full-faced helmet.
A handy storage compartment under the front rack is great for trial necessities. A tool kit is included for minor tweaks.
The full-function dash is great with its speedometer, odometer, clock and coolant temperature light. The gas gauge is thoughtful for those of us who can't keep track of when we last gassed up.
A 12-volt auxiliary plug is handy for spot-lights or recharging a cell phone.
Aggressive fairings, full-sized integrated running boards, and an auxiliary sealed recoil pull start are just a few of the well-thought out standard features of the Brute Force 300.
Kawasaki Engineer Charles Yim and I discussed the Brute Force 300 design following the day's test drive. The Kawasaki design team was interested in what our team liked and disliked.
The price-right Brute 300, at an MSRP of $4,199, is nimble on its feet, with ample oomph to push it past the most challenging of terrain. While I didn't pin the Brute's top-end, I did see the speedometer trip 45-plus with more growl left in the tank. This quad outran and out maneuvered much more expensive quads that I have driven in the past.
The Brute Force 300 will find favor with those looking for a workhorse willing to perform the most mundane of farm chores. Versatility camp machine, carry treestands, heading into rough terrain to drag out deer. Kawasaki has successfully packed this machine with plenty of muscle and features found higher-priced vehicles; all at a recession-proof price.

The Brute Force 300 proved to be a quick, nimble machine that's at home in hunting camp, on the trail or at the farm.