Is There A Difference Between Kawasaki vs Kohler Engines?

Motors are essential for putting the “power” in power equipment. From pressure washers and generators to lawnmowers and tractors, engines are the key (and often defining) component behind a machine’s performance.

Kawasaki and Kohler engines are different designs produced by completely different companies. Kawasaki is based in Japan whereas Kohler is based in the United States. They are similar in the fact that they are leading engines with reputations for quality and reliability the world over.

Today we will be comparing two of the most popular engine builders in the world of power equipment: Kawasaki and Kohler. Are they the same? If not, what are the differences? Which brand is better?

Let’s have a look.


Are Kawasaki And Kohler The Same? 

For those unfamiliar with the world of engine design and production, or for those just getting acquainted with it for the purposes of a future purchase the names Kawasaki and Kohler are two names that will frequently come up. So, are these separate engines and companies or are they made by the same corporations?

Kawasaki and Kohler are completely separate companies that originate in different countries. Kawasaki is a Japanese brand name of engine used in motorcycles and lawnmowers. Kohler is an American based company out of Wisconsin that makes plumbing, furniture, and engines.

Let’s look a little closer at each of these companies to see how different they really are. By knowing more about each, it can help when deciding between them.

Kawasaki Engines

Kawasaki (formally known as the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Motorcycle & Engine Division) is a Japanese brand and a subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, although it has operations bases in the U.S. as well. Most people recognize the name from the motorcycles the company makes.

However, Kawasaki also specializes in engine building for various power equipment, particularly lawnmowers. The company makes both private use and commercial engines that maximize power output and fuel efficiency. Kawasaki is also on the frontlines when it comes to environmentalism, with engines that pass most noise and emissions tests with flying colors.

Kawasaki 4 Cycle Engines

Kawasaki specializes in 4-cycle V-Twin OHV engines. “V-Twin” means that the engines have two cylinders (arranged in a “V” formation) that share a common crankshaft. The use of V-Twin is a direct legacy of Kawasaki’s motorcycle heritage.

The two pistons fire together to produce more power than comparable single-cylinder engines. Another advantage with V-Twin layouts is that the distributed load lessens vibrations, which means less wear and tear on the engine. Less wear and tear equals a longer engine lifespan.

The term “4-cycle” (or “4-stroke”) simply refers to the number of piston strokes per combustion cycle. In such engines, you have the intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and power stroke. These engines require fuel and oil to be added to different tanks.

By comparison, 2-cycle (or “2-stroke”) engines condense the above four strokes into two strokes. The intake stroke of one cycle is combined with the exhaust stroke of the last. These engines require fuel and oil to be pre-mixed and added into the same fuel tank.

“OHV” is an engine design layout that is an acronym for “Overhead Valve”. This means that the engine valves are located at the top of the cylinder, rather than the bottom as with traditional flathead motors. This setup allows OHV engines to be compact, easy to service, and produce more torque. OHVs are also associated with lower production costs, which makes them cheaper to buy or replace.

Kawasaki is also gradually migrating from traditional carburetors towards electronic fuel injection (EFI) technology. EFI, in simple terms, facilitates quicker fuel delivery to the combustion chamber in the cylinder. EFI is also free from some of the clogging (and thus downtime) associated with carburetor systems.

Kawasaki Engine Series

Kawasaki produces various series of engines, with the most notable being the FX series.

This line of commercial-grade machines is chockful of industry-leading features that are typical of Kawasaki’s dedication to innovation. All in all, there are 14 different FX models, with the range-topping FX1000V-EFI being a particular favorite.

With performance stats like 38.5 horsepower and 57.8 ft-lbs. of torque, it’s not hard to see why. The FX1000V-EFI has a 90-degree V-Twin layout for maximum efficiency. You also get standard FX features such as a multi-stage canister air filter system, a steel guard with a rotating chopper screen, and oil coolers.

The engine’s smooth operation is thanks to its V-Twin layout and EFI system. Fuel is delivered at high pressure and at electronically-controlled intervals to ensure that there are no combustion lags that cause the engine to sputter or backfire. 

Fun fact? The Kawasaki FX1000V-EFI is acknowledged by the SAE International Journal of Engines as being the most powerful lawnmower engine on the market.

Other Kawasaki lines include the FR series, FJ, series, FS series, and the FH KAI series.

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Kohler Engines

Kohler engines, on the other hand, are made by Kohler Power, a division of the Kohler Company. Though the name is of German origin, this multi-faceted company is based in Kohler, Wisconsin. The company is most renowned for its plumbing products and furniture, but they are quite adept at engine-building too.

The Kohler brand is far-reaching and has turned the company into a global force. They even sponsor English soccer giants Manchester United, and the team’s “Safe Water For All” initiative. At the time of writing, Kohler water pumps are supplying fresh running water to hundreds of villages in India, Africa, and other developing areas around the world.

Motors are undeniably the company’s top goal scorer, so to speak.

Kohler Engine Series

Kohler produces many series of multi-purpose gas, diesel, and alternative fuel engines for its broad customer base. The company also owns Lombardini Marine, a marine engine giant, completing a full-circle of its aquatic mastery.

From boats to lawnmowers, Kohler has significant influence. Like Kawasaki, Kohler focuses on a wide range of products for a wide range of demographic and regional needs. 

For lawnmowers, garden tractors, and more, you have residential to industrial-scale engines that pack a considerable punch. Most of the gas lineup makes use of a twin-cylinder configuration, although single-cylinder series like the XTX Series are available. Vertical shafts are the overall theme, with a sprinkling of horizontal shaft models here and there.

The Command Pro EFI ECH630 is a noteworthy standout commercial engine with more than 12 applications. From curbers to blowers and z-turn mowers, there’s hardly a job that the 19-horse ECH630 can’t do.

Kohler Engine Benefits

Easy starts, minimal downtime (if ever), and top-of-the-range EFI tech are standard. Any problems can be dealt with quicker and easier than ever thanks to Kohler’s EFI Diagnostics Software, which is pretty handy out in the field.

The same level of quality and attention to detail can be found across the rest of the Command Pro line as well as other series like the 7000 series and Confidant series. The future of the company looks exciting as it follows rivals like Kawasaki in moving towards EFI technology.

How Many Hours Will A Kawasaki Engine Last? 

Kawasaki has a stellar reputation for quality, reliability, and longevity. Its engines don’t break the mold in this regard, and the numbers are as impressive as you can imagine.

Expect a Kawasaki combustion motor to last for 2,000-2,500 hours at least. With timely service and proper storage, 3,000 hours and beyond is very possible. Non-EFI engines are especially prone to surging due to worn gaskets and carburetor issues which reduce operational time frames.

The company itself grants 3-year warranties across most of its lineup, subject to various stipulations.

Kohler engines are built well but fall short of the Japanese manufacturer’s averages. You can expect a Kohler motor to last a little over 2,000 hours. With extra special attention and care, you could squeeze out 3,000 hours though.

Is Kohler A Good Engine Brand?

Kohler is one of the best engine brands in the world, so much so that it ranks among rivals Kawasaki and Briggs & Stratton as one of the most outsourced engine builders. This means that even though you may be riding a machine with any number of logos on it, the engine could possibly be made by Kohler.

Kohler is most definitely a good engine brand and regularly is numbered with the most reliable in the world. The company has a high standard for all of their products which lends credence to their reputation in engine design and production. Customers can buy Kohler engines with confidence.

Kohlers power machines from Cub Cadet, John Deere, Exmark, and Toro just to name a significant few. Not to mention the boats and watercraft that are powered by Lombardinis. 

The company’s family ethos, dedication to homegrown engineering, and world-class customer support are just a few aspects behind its success.

The Final Touches On Kawasaki Vs Kohler Engines…

Kohler and Kawasaki are very different in production companies and locations. Yet, they are very similar in production quality and engine performance.

When comparing two of the world’s leading engine producers, it is not a difficult task. The end result is that both are excellent choices. The differences are slight and choosing one over the other becomes more a matter of preference than a decision based on demonstrable facts.

These are different companies and engines, but the choice for either remains a good one.

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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