Ford F-150 tailgate step
Jimmy Dinsmore's picture

Ford Might Have New Tailgate Technology for 2021 F-150

Rivals GMC Sierra and Ram 1500 already have more advanced tailgates for their pickup trucks, will Ford follow suit for the 2021 F-150? Tailgate advances seem to have skipped past segment-leading F-150.
Advertisement

Let’s call this tailgate Tuesday. And let’s take a look at the back end of today’s modern pickup trucks.

Over the last couple of years, some advances in pickup truck tail gate technology have emerged. GMC made a big hullaballoo when they launched their latest Sierra with a tailgate that has six different functions and options. That was cool, but was it just a gimmick?

Ram recently offered a split tailgate that swung out like barn doors or dropped down in one piece like a regular tailgate. And of course, Ram has had their Ram Box storage compartment for several model years. This is a great feature, but it does eat into the bed space, somewhat.

Then there’s Ford, who has done very little on the tailgate since they added the “man step” to their tailgate in the 2008 model year. Some of their rivals ridiculed them for adding such a silly feature that included a handle to hold onto, but the feature, even if it was a gimmick, put Ford out ahead in tailgate technology.

And let’s be honest, GMC’s MultiPro Tailgate is just a glorified version of what Ford did more than 10 years ago.

Let’s take a look at some of the current tailgates and also see what the 14th generation 2021 Ford F-150 might include on the tailgate.

2020 GMC Sierra tailgate

GMC Sierra tailgate technology
GMC’s MultiPro tailgate was highly touted on advertisements and during the car show circuit when it was launched last year. This tailgate offers six different functions or positions that help with second-tier loading as well as easier access to the cargo box.

The primary gate can open and close like a regular truck tailgate from inside the truck, with the push of a button and also on the key fob.

There’s a gate load stop feature that helps prevent items from sliding out of the box. The inner gate folds down, similar to what Ford did with their step feature in 2008. On the GMC Sierra it gives owners easier access and a deeper reach into the box.

There’s also a full-width step that can hold up to 375 pounds. Again, it’s fairly similar to Ford’s step, of which GMC used to make fun as being not manly.

The final two features are really where GM innovated on the tailgate with an inner gate load that helps prevent second-tier items from sliding out of the box and also the inner gate work surface, which when opened provides a work surface.

GMC’s MultiPro tailgate really did put the tail in tailgate, with so many useful functions and seating options too.

2020 Ram 1500 RamBox

Ram Multifunction Tailgate and RamBox
For the 2019 model year, Ram introduced their updated tailgate. The biggest feature, which debuted on the Ram Rebel was the 60-40 split swing-open function. While the gate of the Ram Rebel can drop down like a standard, regular tailgate, it can also swing open like barn doors with a 60-40 split.

Each split can open independently or stay closed independently, making it quite versatile for loading and unloading. As part of this new design, there was a kick down step mounted under the rear bumper to help accessing the bed. This again, is not new, as Ford did this more than a decade ago, more or less.

Additionally, the Ram 1500 comes with a segment-leading storage box known as the RamBox. This cargo management system really is the best in the pickup truck segment offering a lit, secure and drainable storage system located on the side rails of the truck bed. The RamBox can be locked independently and also opened remotely.

2021 Ford F-150 spy shot back

What Improvement To The Tailgate Will The 2021 Ford F-150 Have?
This is the big question. The spy shots we’ve seen of the back (pictured above) show a standard tailgate for the 2021 Ford F-150, so there’s not likely to be a 60/40 split or swing out gate. That’s kind of a bummer as the Ram’s tailgate is my favorite amongst the current pickup trucks.

However, a patent filed in 2018 by Ford indicates a likely advance in the Ford tailgate step. That only make sense since Ford hasn’t done much tailgate innovation in a decade.

According to the patent that was filed there would be a telescoping rail assembly that will be on opposite sides of the tailgate (underneath the bed or perhaps within the side walls of the truck in a hidden compartment). We can’t quite see anything like that in the camouflaged spy shot (pictured above), but it sounds interesting.

The patent filing indicates that a latch mechanism would "selec¬tively pivot the tailgate between a closed position, a tailgate deployed position, and a step position.”

Other than this patent filing there’s been very little buzz or rumors surrounding the potential upgrade to the F-150’s tailgate.

It’s certainly needed for Ford to update their tailgate. It’s hard to innovate on a pickup truck, especially when it comes to exterior design. My friend Gale Halderman, who was the original designer of the Ford Mustang, but also served as Director of Truck Design for Ford Motor Company once told me that designing trucks was difficult because it was just a rectangle shape with four corners and there was very little you could do to change that.
Although, don’t Tesla that with their Cybertruck monstrosity that looked like it was designed with crayons by a child.

So, I want to hear from you. How important is tailgate technology to you? Is it a factor in your truck buying? What do you want to see from Ford for the next F-150 when it comes to back of the truck? Leave me a comment below.

As always, bang it here for the most up-to-date F-150 news.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.


Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.


Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

We purchased a new Ford 150 in 2018. We are both in our 70's. The tailgate is so heavy I decided to purchase a 2020. No difference. We are Ford people, but even considered a GMC because of the tailgate. Ford better chance the tailgate because it is losing and will lose more people who are not able to lift the tailgate.
The Ram has a push button gate up/down switch. Similar to cars/SUVs that have the easy open button for their trunks.
I have a 2019 F-150 King Ranch and like the key fob for opening the tailgate. We use it for delivering Meals on Wheels due to the number of coolers required. The tailgate is used often and it is heavy for we old folks. Hopkins Manufacturing make a tailgate lift assist accessory that’s easy to install, very inexpensive and works very well. Unfortunately, Hopkins does not advise it for installation on newer F-150 (after 2008) due to where the hole needs drilling in the tailgate. Here’s hoping Ford will come up with an alternative.
Great point. Thank you.
The GMC, tailgate has got to be one of the worst engineering boondoggle’s, I have ever seen! Do these engineers have no connection to the real world? The world I live in farming, ranching, oil field etc. every pickup has a bumper mounted trailer hitch, usual in a receiver, and usually with a locking pin. Well if you let the tail gate all the way down, the hitch will put a big dent in your tailgate. Of course you have the option if you are going to let all the way down to use as a step, getting on your knees, unlocking the hitch, removing it from the receiver, then letting the tailgate down! UNBELIEVABLE!
Yes but there's a lot of truck buyers who use them as daily drivers. Believe it or not, many don't even tow anything with their trucks.
I have the factory ramps on my F150 King Ranch and its the most important functioning aspect of all the pickups. I use the non slip ramps to load by myself motorcycles' SNOWMOBILES, refrigerator's, a safe, and many other things. I was a GMC truck guy for 40 years until I saw the FACTORY ramps on the Fords I switch over for that reason alone in 2016
For innovative tailgate technology go to a Elongator.com. These guys are way ahead of the curve. Not only does this new technology serve a need, it is the platform for a wide array of lifestyle products being considered.