Truck Tailgates 101: The 2020 Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500

Once a ho-hum feature of the truck world, they've now have become a statement. 

Invented more than 100 years ago as functional access to the truck bed, hinged tailgates have seen a resurgence in innovation in the past several years. Three of the major truck manufacturers have been battling tail to tail to come up with new features to lure buyers, and as a result, some distinctly different options have emerged.

Kristin Shaw

GMC Sierra

GMC launched the 2019 Sierra with the MultiPro tailgate to a fanfare of questions: how does it work? Why do I need that? Is it going to break? The MultiPro has the usual set of hinges, plus a midgate and flip-down steps that exponentially increase its possible uses. During the development process, GM required it to be lightweight, strong, durable, and somehow cost-efficient too, which sounds like a tall order.

The Detroit Free Press reported on how GM technician Jim Gobart came up with the prototype way back in 2009, but the timing wasn’t right. If you want to know more about the journey of how the tailgate came to be, make sure to read the story in full.

Pros:

- Thoughtful options for getting payload in and out of the truck bed by getting you nearly 7-9 inches closer to the pickup box floor

- Built-in 100-watt Kicker Bluetooth speaker is great for tailgating and camping out

- Double-decker cargo space is helpful for hauling wood and other building materials

Con:

- Not compatible with trailer hitches. If you're using a hitch, the fold-down step may cause a dent in your tailgate

Kristin Shaw

Ford F-150

Ford revealed its newest F-150 with a re-tooled work-surface tailgate that includes built-in rulers, clamp pockets, mobile phone holder, cupholder, and pencil holder. Purists may scowl at it, but Ford claims to have done plenty of customer research. The 2021 version is focused on both the working F-150 owner and the recreational driver, and the tailgate reflects a variety of uses.

Pros:

- Paired with the ProPower onboard generator, the tailgate becomes a spectacular work surface for those on construction sites

- The depressions for cups, pencils, and so on are great, but I thought the clamp pockets alone were a spectacular improvement (any piece of equipment that needs to be clamped on won't damage the outside of your tailgate, keeping it as pristine as a work truck can be for longer)

- Pop open a frosty beverage with the new cleats that are mounted to the sides of the tailgate; these act as tie-down locations and a bottle opener. Score!

Con:

- The gate swings down the traditional way, meaning it's a longer reach to load and unload into the bed than its competitors

FCA

Ram 1500

The multifunction tailgate debuted on the 2019 Ram 1500, and it is a fully dampened, drop-down tailgate that can open with a remote. It was reengineered to add a 60/40 split gate that swings out instead of down, which makes it easier to load and unload cargo from the truck bed. Even better, you can still open the doors if you’re hitched to a trailer.

Certain 1500s are also equipped with the Rambox, which is lockable storage built into the truck bed. Weatherstripping on the inside of the box keeps it watertight, and a drain plug gives you the option to fill it up with ice and bottles of whatever you like to drink and have a party. Or if you like to go fishing, store your catch in there and bring it home still fresh.

Pros:

- As a 5’5” person, I appreciate the swing-out doors to access the truck bed instead of having to lean over the added length of the tailgate

- Accessing your cargo is much easier when you’re towing with the 60/40 split

- The fact that you can use the tailgate with a traditional hinge-down option or the swing-open doors is a great way to please most potential buyers

Con:

- Missing some of the functional slots and recessed areas to maximize the workspace 

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