The tailgate wars have started...a phrase that seems just as weird to type as it is to read.
What was once a necessary piece of metal meant to keep objects from flying out of the back of your truck has now become the Swiss Army Knife of devices.
Not sure what I am talking about? Join with me for a little journey, won't you?
Way back when trucks were trucks, not the tech-laden family-haulers of today, trucks were meant for work and work alone. There was nothing glamorous about them, and if you found yourself near the country club in one, many would think your were there to make repairs.
The bed was the work happened. To access the bed, you would have to muscle up and give the handle on the tailgate a good, stiff jerk and then brace yourself for the free-fall of the giant slab of Detroit iron you just set free.
Somewhere along the way, we lost our way. It was bound to happen. With power lift gates on our crossovers, power sliding doors on our minivans, or the Tesla Model X's crazy falcon doors, we have seen it all....or so we thought.
Perhaps the blame could first fall on Ford Motor Co. They saw the tailgate as an opportunity to add some ingenuity into an oft-overlooked piece of hardware. 2008 saw the debut of their new tailgate step. A simple idea, really. Ford built a slide-out aluminum step in the top of the tailgate that, when the tailgate was down, could be deployed and cut the distance from the ground to the bed in half. They even added a handle for increased ingress/egress.
Not to be out done, General Motors said, "hold my beer!"
General Motors released two new innovations with their full-size truck twins the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra when redesigned for 2019.
Chevrolet took the more conservative approach, adding a power release to a majority of their models, everything above the base work truck trim. This eliminated the handle and replaced it with a simple button on the tailgate. This electronically actuated tailgate could now be opened from the rear of the truck, the cab of the truck with a special switch, or anywhere the remote key fob could reach.
Going a step further...their top two trims could be fitted with a power close tailgate. Yes, you could flap your tailgate down and back up from the convenience of your heated and cooled leather seat while listening to your latest jam from your phone via Apple Carplay or Android Auto, oh what a time to be alive!
GMC took a more radical approach. Professional Grade is the name of the game over at GMC, and they could not be shown up by their colleges over at Chevy. No, GMC had to do something BIG, and they did it in the form of their new Multi-Pro branded tailgate.
Think of it as 6 tailgates in one, if you follow GMC's marketing hype.
For us, it is just a tailgate within the tailgate.
It serves many different purposes.
1) A regular tailgate
2) A load stop to keep long items from falling out of the open tailgate.
3) A cut-out in the downed tailgate allowing you further reach and access into the bed.
4) A workbench when the full tailgate is in place.
5) A load stop on longer items for when the tailgate needs to remain up.
6) A step... you didn't think they would miss the opportunity to beat Ford, did you? It even has its own fold out handle, similar to Ford.
Don't get me wrong. I would buy one of these trucks in a heartbeat. But I am not entirely sure this multi-function tailgate would be the reason. Sure it seems practical, but is it really going to drive incremental sales at the dealership to overcome the R&D costs associated with its design and execution? Did we also mention that for $0.00, you can option to a regular tailgate? Unfortunately, GMC does not offer the power close feature on any of their tailgates.
Last to the party, but certainly not the least, is the new rising star of the full-size truck market, the Ram 1500. Many people you know probably still refer to this vehicle as the Dodge Ram, but Ram was actually spun off to its very own company over the past decade and now calls their full-size truck the 1500...real original guys.
Ram took the approach of simple when it comes to options. You get 2.
Regular tailgate, or barn doors.
Added in response to the Multi-Pro tailgate, Ram's Multifunction tailgate is an option that can only be selected at the factory and cannot be added later.
With it, you can chose to open the tailgate as you always have, with a handle on the back, or you can chose to swing it open with a 60/40 split down the tailgate and open up the most reachability-friendly option for digging around in the bed of your truck.
As we have said on our podcast, we are split here at Garage Talk on just how cool or lame these tailgate options are. They certainly solve a problem, the real question is how many people had a problem with the tailgate situation in the first place?
What are your thoughts on the Big-3's new tailgates?
Cool or over-engineered?
Let us know by shooting us an email at GTGarageTalk@gmail.com
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Until next time, BYE!