Pickup trucks continue to beat the sales of other vehicles in the United States, and the tailgate plays an important role in the utility of such a vehicle.
Trucks offer lots of great features. They are powerful and useful, and you can both work and play in them. Tailgates play an essential role in the function of these versatile vehicles.
We tell you about tailgates and how they work. We will compare the different types, so that you can determine which tailgate you like best and which truck suits you best.
What is a tailgate on a truck?
The tailgate of a truck is the entrance to the loading floor. But the tailgate can serve many different purposes, from a pregame party space during football season to an outdoor workspace. The tailgate also serves as a step, an aid for loading and unloading the load and a measuring instrument. It can also hold coffee cups or music speakers, and much more, depending on what your truck comes with or what you add when you make the purchase.
Manufacturers try to outdo each other by offering different functionalities in the tailgate department.
Let’s start with Ram’s multifunction tailgate, which first appeared on the 1500. It comes with dual side hinges, so it opens like French doors, but in a 60/40 split. You can swing it open from the left, right or center. There is also a retractable mid-mounted step for easier access to the bed. And of course the tailgate works normally, is fully muted and can be opened remotely.
GMC’s answer is the MultiPro tailgate. This has more options than Aries, but they are different. There are no barn doors, but you have a smaller tailgate in the tailgate that you can use for various tasks, such as holding longer items in place. You can also use it as a step for easy access, or as a work surface. Two buttons operate the tailgate, or you can open it from the cab.
Ford’s F-150 tailgate doesn’t fold out or open sideways, or at least not yet. But you do get a lot of functionality with it. Pencil holders, a ruler, telephone and tablet corners, and yes, a cup holder for your coffee. You get a cleat system and clip pockets on either side. Ford also gets the step for easy access to the bed. And on the smaller Maverick, Ford offers a QR code that gives you tips on how to create a number of organizational systems for different tasks.
Chevy’s Multi-Flex tailgate is the same as GMC’s MultiPro, just with a different name. It can become a standing workstation, or you can configure it to make loading your load easier.
When it comes to mid-sized trucks, most of the offerings from Toyota, Nissan, and Chevy all have simple tailgates, functional yet simple. The Honda Ridgeline is the only one with side hinges so it can swing open completely sideways for easy access.
EV trucks are coming fast and furious, and the Rivian R1T gets a fully-damped tailgate that you can open remotely. You also get the gear tunnel, which is super cool. There is currently no additional functionality, but Rivian has several patents pending for things like a step and other features that could appear in the future.
Full disclosure: Cox Automotive, the parent company of Kelley Blue Book, is a minority investor in Rivian.
Which tailgate is right for you?
There really is only so much you can do with a tailgate, so we love that companies are getting super creative with their approach. After all, competition is a win-win situation for every truck buyer out there.