Kinesin-4 motors play important roles in cell division, microtubule organization, and signaling. Understanding how motors perform their functions requires an understanding of their mechanochemical and motility properties. We demonstrate that KIF27 can influence microtubule dynamics, suggesting a conserved function in microtubule organization across the kinesin-4 family. However, kinesin-4 motors display dramatically different motility characteristics: KIF4 and KIF21 motors are fast and processive, KIF7 and its Drosophila melanogaster homologue Costal2 (Cos2) are immotile, and KIF27 is slow and processive. Neither KIF7 nor KIF27 can cooperate for fast processive transport when working in teams. The mechanistic basis of immotile KIF7 behavior arises from an inability to release adenosine diphosphate in response to microtubule binding, whereas slow processive KIF27 behavior arises from a slow adenosine triphosphatase rate and a high affinity for both adenosine triphosphate and microtubules. We suggest that evolutionarily selected sequence differences enable immotile KIF7 and Cos2 motors to function not as transporters but as microtubule-based tethers of signaling complexes. © 2018 Yue et al.