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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A grey 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 is shown from the rear in front of a house.

When One Tailgate Closes

Chevrolet has finally given the tailgate notice. After years of basic up and down functionality, it was time to do more. So beginning in 2021, new Chevy Silverados will have the brand new Multi-Flex tailgate. A take on GMC’s MultiPro tailgate, this option will help make the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 even more versatile. Rumored to be coming to the Silverado since GMC debuted the MultiPro tailgate on the Sierra a few years back, Chevrolet finally teased the Multi-Flex in mid-September 2020 with an official announcement the following week. Let’s take a closer look.

Options are Good

The last Chevy Silverado already had multiple tailgate options, including an EZ Lift, a power lock, and a fully-powered tailgate. So what makes the Multi-Flex so special? Well, the Multi-Flex tailgate has six different functions.

Firstly, you can open the Multi-Flex tailgate just like you would a regular tailgate, but with the added perk of doing so from wherever is most handy. There is a switch inside the truck and a button on the gate itself, as well as key fob accessibility. Next, you can flip up a piece of the tailgate, so that extra-long items in the bed won’t slide out. There’s also a configuration that allows for a similar load stop on second-tier items, as well.

The inner gate folds down so that you can reach more easily into the bed. The Multi-Flex tailgate can also flip even down further to create an extra step into the bed. Finally, there is a work surface on the inner gate where you can draw changes on plans or sit your lunch while out on a job site. This iteration of the Multi-Flex tailgate also lends itself to second-tier loading.

There’s No I in Team

The Multi-Flex tailgate is open with the step on a grey 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500.

All 2021 Silverados will also have the Chevrolet Durabed for that optional Multi-Flex tailgate to attach to. Introduced in 2019, the Durabed is made of high-strength, roll-formed steel, which makes it both lighter and more durable than those of its competitors. The Durabed didn’t just increase the cargo volume of the Silverado; it increased it to up to 20% more than that of other similar pickups in the market. Other notable stats about the Durabed include best-in-class width on the standard and long beds and best-in-class bed length in the standard and short beds.

The Durabed also has 12 tie-downs standard. Again, this is more than offered by its competitors, and you can purchase up to nine additional removable tie-downs. The Durabed also makes life easier with an available 120-volt outlet – handy if you want to use that Multi-Flex tailgate as a workstation for your laptop. There’s also available lighting around the truck bed and hitch, as well as footwells that are larger than standard to better fit your work boots.

Learn From Your Elders

Obviously, the Chevy Multi-Flex tailgate is a direct descendant from GMC’s MultiPro tailgate. Before it was introduced in 2019, the MultiPro was GMC’s most closely guarded secret. A 3D-printed version was hidden in a locked storage room, occasionally wheeled someplace on a covered gurney. Any Zoom-esque conference calls were allowed no video where this tailgate was concerned.

The birth of the MultiPro came in 2009 not from a C-suite type or a team of Ivy League engineers, but from a technician who has just a high school education. After one of his managers complained about not being able to reach things that slid forward in the back of his pickup, Jim Gobart realized there was a better way. Calling it “The Stairway to Heaven,” Hobart realized that if you folded the tailgate in half, you could reach further into the bed. Building on top of that, if you fold that middle part down, there’s no reason it couldn’t become a step.

Gobart’s Stairway to Heaven was the best idea…. at the absolute worst time. 2009 was the height of the Great Recession, and GM filed for bankruptcy. It wasn’t at all practical to properly vet the idea of a folding tailgate when so many other more immediate issues needed to be dealt with.

Five years later, Derek Patterson, a lead engineer, took Gobart’s idea to the new GM Innovation Hub. When GM took the prototype to test audiences, they were most impressed by three things: 1 – the ability to step into the bed more easily, 2 – that this flexible tailgate let you reach further into the bed, and 3 – that it was possible to add a second level of cargo. Fast-forward a few more years, and the GMC MultiPro tailgate has extended to the Chevy Silverado, and Jim Gobart’s name is on 11 GM patents, with more pending.

The top portion of the Multi-Flex tailgate is open while in a warehouse.

Beauty and the Beast

As if the Multi-Flex tailgate and Durabed weren’t impressive enough, the 2021 Chevy Silverado also boasts impressive hauling capabilities. The 2.7-liter Turbo and 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engines have increased trailering capabilities compared to their 2020 counterparts. Even the 2.7-liter option with a regular cab and long box can haul up to 9,300 pounds, while the four-wheel drive 6.2-liter can pull up to 13,300 pounds.

In addition, there are extra cameras available in relation to towing. With the most camera angles of its market segment, new perks include a trailer length indicator, a jackknife alert, an enhanced cargo bed view, a rear trailer view with guidelines, a trailer-angle indicator, and upgrades to the rear side view.

Horsepower on the 2021 Chevy Silverados ranges from 310 on the 2.7-liter Turbo I-4 to 420 on the 6.2-liter. The torque ranges from 348 pound-feet to 460. In addition, the 2021 Chevy Silverado’s 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine leads the market with an EPA-estimated 23 city/33 highway MPG on the FWD model. The rest of the range’s fuel efficiency varies greatly depending on engine, from 20 city/23 highway MPG on the two-wheel drive 2.7-liter Turbo to 15 city/21 highway MPG on the 6.2-liter four-wheel drive trail boss.

It’s What’s Inside that Counts

Of course, no one wants to drive the equivalent of a wooden church pew on the back of a team of oxen. The 2021 Chevy Silverado has an interior that’s definitely a bit more comfortable than that. The cabin offers more head- and leg-room than previous iterations, in both the front and rear rows. Besides having more space for your bodies, there is available storage all over the cabin, including a roomy center console.

When it comes to technology, the 2021 Chevy Silverado has an available Head-Up display so you can keep your eyes on the road while monitoring speed, navigation, and safety alerts. Whichever system you prefer, this pickup offers both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options, as well as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Remember how that Durabed offers a 120-volt outlet? Consider the 2021 Chevy Silverado your office on the road.

Oh, and It’s Safe

Besides all the Multi-Flex Tailgate/Durabed bells and technology whistles, the 2021 Chevy Silverado also features a high-strength steel safety cage and a range of available safety features. You can select forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, front pedestrian braking, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and front and rear park assist. These alerts are sure to get your attention with warning vibrations in the driver’s seat.

Something for Everyone

While the cabin is comfortable and the towing capabilities are competitive, the new Multi-Flex tailgate helps take the 2021 Chevy Silverado to the next level. The Multi-Flex tailgate allows for an extended bed space, a workbench, and to provide a step up into the bed. Whether you’re actively working building sites, taking the canoe to a mountain cabin, or driving out on the Outer Banks, the 2021 Chevy Silverado is ready for the ride.

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