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.
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.
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.
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.