Unyielding demand in the full-size pickup category has fueled innovation at a rate never seen before. As the category continues to grow and draw non-traditional buyers, manufacturers are scrambling for market share, which explains the explosion of luxury rigs with interior appointments typically only seen in European imports. It had us wondering, what’s left to innovate? The answer might be found on the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Limited.
The target pickup demographic used to be farmers and tradesmen; today, it’s CEOs and young families. You’re just as likely to see a pickup truck in the carpool line as you are to see one covered in mud on the side of a mountain. As customer interest peaks, manufacturers like GMC work hard to attract buyers. The latest battle in the war for buyers is taking place in the back–the tailgate, to be precise.
Gone are the days of the simple single-hinged, two-position (up, down) tailgate. We once thought making it power operable was the ultimate technological innovation. Little did we know, this small bit of pickup truck real estate was poised to receive a truly game-changing facelift. It’s a good time to be a truck buyer, and GMC’s MultiPro tailgate is high on the list of reasons why.
The Architecture of the MultiPro Tailgate
To understand the tailgate war that’s afoot among truck manufacturers, it helps to remember that the tailgate hasn’t changed over the past hundred years. It was simply part of the pickup truck’s core architecture to include a massive, heavy gate that manually opens and closes. Its job was simple: provide bed access for loading and unloading cargo. The end. That all changed in 2019 when GMC launched its Sierra lineup with a brand new MultiPro Tailgate.
Why did it take so long for GMC to reinvent the tailgate? As with most revolutionary inventions, it happened quite by accident. The tailgate’s original intent was to provide access to the bed. Over the years, truck owners became accustomed to awkwardly hauling themselves up on the extended tailgate. Then, automakers began molding corner steps onto the bumper. It was clear that buyers appreciated the simplified access point. This led to a handful of engineers designing a multi-function tailgate with an integrated step.
Apparently, the design team at GMC decided to shoot for the moon, and the rest, as they say, is history. Advertised as offering six different configurations, if you haven’t seen the MultiPro Tailgate demoed live and in person, it’s hard to picture how it works. The easiest way might be to think of it as a tailgate-within-a-tailgate design. The outer (primary) gate is the familiar full-width tailgate with a single hinge. Then, there’s the inner gate, which is part of the primary gate but works independently with its own hinge.
The Primary Gate
On the 2022 Sierra 1500 Limited, the primary gate can be raised and lowered by pressing a button on the key fob, inside the cabin, or on the tailgate itself. That alone is revolutionary, and if you don’t believe us, just ask any truck owner who has had to muscle a tailgate into the closed position or account for its weight to keep it from aggressively falling open. GMC engineers managed to maintain the tailgate’s load capabilities while also making the tailgate light enough to be operable electronically. Answer: aluminum.
Built into the primary gate is a load stop. The load stop folds flush and is easily raised to keep longer cargo secure. But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more: the primary gate can also be lowered and folded out to make way for a large step. Forget the unceremonious scramble associated with accessing your truck bed cargo; with the step, it’s a graceful ascent for easy bed access. The step is also rated to hold up to 375 pounds, so it doesn’t feel flimsy and can easily support a full-size adult.
Lowering the primary gate into the step configuration reveals a sturdy grab bar that’s surprisingly helpful for maintaining balance. Though it seems like a convenience feature, adding the grab bar was an intentional decision related more to safety than novelty. In fact, the design intent behind GMC’s MultiPro Tailgate was more safety-driven than functional. The challenge was to add utility without compromising safety, a task GMC ultimately achieved.
The Inner Gate
The MultiPro Tailgate’s inner gate feature is actually part of the primary gate. It’s hinged within the primary gate and operates independently. Perhaps the most clever feature of the inner gate is that it can be lowered to a position that’s perpendicular to the ground, which puts bed access approximately 7″ closer. The inner gate also functions as part of the bed access step. To configure, the primary gate is first lowered, and then the inner gate releases down to become a 48-inch wide step.
The inner gate also has its own vertical load stop, which actually extends the bed length. With the inner gate lowered, the bed extends to accommodate longer items, such as the surfboards depicted in GMC’s marketing materials. The extra couple of feet come in handy and eliminates the mild stress of hauling cargo that sticks out over the tailgate. The Sierra’s bed also features a two-tier loading capability that separates the bed into sections. Combined with the extra bed length afforded by the inner gate, utility increases tenfold.
When the inner gate is lowered parallel to the ground while the primary gate is still up, it serves as a perfect mobile workstation. Combine it with the available 120-volt electrical outlet, and it can serve as a desk or even a sawhorse (if you’re careful). Tailgaters will love having the freedom to transform the inner gate surface into a buffet table or bar. Add the optional Kicker MultiPro Sound System, and the 2022 Sierra 1500 Limited becomes the go-to tailgate party epicenter.
The Tailgate Reimagined
When it comes to passenger vehicles, it’s not easy to find ways to innovate. Most innovation these days is focused on zero-emissions powertrains and little else. That’s what makes GMC’s MultiPro Tailgate so interesting (and timely). Today’s pickup truck demographic ranges from job site fleet buyers to upper-middle-class suburban families, so designing a lineup that meets every buyer isn’t easy. Features like a multi-function tailgate have universal appeal.
The companion Kicker MultiPro Sound System is a must for many buyers. It runs on its own power source, which means the truck doesn’t have to be on (or set to auxiliary mode) for it to work. Also, the Bluetooth-enabled interface makes streaming playlists super easy. The system is completely waterproof, and output is rich thanks to 100 watts of power and an included amplifier. The Kicker System also includes a handy USB charging port. It’s a nice accessory to have for the campsite or a pregame celebration.
For commercial truck owners, the MultiPro Tailgate serves as a handy job site tool. It adapts to accommodate extra-long payloads and serves as a quick down-and-dirty work surface. For families and recreational drivers, a Sierra 1500 Limited with the optional MultiPro Tailgate levels up tailgate parties and provides an easy way to transport kayaks and other long cargo without needing an excessive number of tie-downs. For a feature to achieve that kind of versatility, its design must be flawless. The MultiPro Tailgate continues receiving accolades from automotive journalists and lifestyle reviewers alike for that very reason. Like ride-sharing and sticky notes, it definitely fits in the “why didn’t we think of that sooner” category.