2019 Ram 1500 takes aim at GMC Sierra with new ‘multifunction’ tailgate

The pickup truck business is nothing if not competitive.

Tailgates traditionally go up and down, but the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 debuted the brand’s trick Multi-Pro tailgate, which can be configured in myriad ways. Ram wasn’t going to take that lying down, so it developed a reconfigurable “multifunction tailgate” to match GMC’s. The transformable tailgate debuts on the 2019 Ram 1500 at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.

Ram’s design can be used as a normal drop-down truck tailgate, complete with a remote-release function. But it can also be split vertically into two sections, which swing open like the rear doors on a van. Ram claims this is a first-of-its-kind feature. The Honda Ridgeline has a vertically hinged tailgate, but it swings open as one piece.

The two sections are split 60/40, meaning there is an odd-looking off-center seam when the tailgate is closed. Each door can be opened individually, and can swing outward up to 88 degrees, according to Ram. The tailgate itself has a 2,000-pound load rating, Ram said. A retractable step can be added for easier access to the bed.

The Ram 1500 multifunction tailgate isn’t quite as complicated as GMC’s Multi-Pro tailgate. It has four possible configurations, while the GMC tailgate has six, including a shelf meant to act as a workstation, as well as a chock for keeping longer items in place while the tailgate is down.

But complexity doesn’t automatically make things better: Ram and GMC claim truck owners have uses for these Swiss Army Knife tailgates, but it’s unclear if that will actually be the case. It’s always nice to have more options, but the simple up-and-down tailgate has worked pretty well since the dawn of the pickup. With their array of moving parts, these new tailgates also present more opportunities for things to break than conventional tailgates.

The multifunction tailgate will be available later this year. It costs $995, while the optional bed step is an additional $295. The Ram 1500 was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, complete with an available mild-hybrid system and massive 12-inch touchscreen, and has been on sale for several months. In other pickup-truck news, look for the 2020 Toyota Tacoma to make its public debut in the Windy City as well.

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