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The open tailgate of a white 2024 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2.

Which Brand Offers the Best Multipurpose Tailgate?

If you’ve seen any Chevy trucks for sale near you lately, you may have noticed the Multi-Flex tailgate, which was released on the 2021 Silverado 1500. While the Multi-Flex and its inner gate may look a bit strange next to a traditional tailgate, it fits in perfectly with the lineup of flashy new tailgate designs that have been popping up across the auto industry for years now. Each automaker seems to have its own unique tailgate design with its own catchy name. But are all of these tailgates created equal? And are any of them really worth all the hype?

Today, we’re going to round up some tailgates that do more than just open and close to give you access to the cargo bed. All of these tailgates have unique characteristics baked into their designs—we aren’t just talking about tailgates that close gently instead of slamming or even ones that can open and shut at the press of a button. Some are versatile for a variety of tasks, while others are kind of one-trick ponies. Without further ado, let’s get this tailgate party started!

GMC MultiPro / Chevy Multi-Flex Tailgate

The folks at General Motors first released their configurable tailgate design on the 2019 GMC Sierra as the MultiPro tailgate, but a few years later it found its way onto the Chevy Silverado, where it’s called the Multi-Flex tailgate. Whatever you call it, this design features a small “inner gate” that’s built into the main tailgate. Folding this gate up or down in different ways provides a variety of functions.

You can use the inner gate as a load stop in two ways, depending on if you need to secure cargo on the floor of the bed or if you want to split your stuff into two levels and support the stuff on top. Fold the inner gate down while the main gate is open, and you can use the gap in the main gate to get closer to your cargo without climbing up into the bed. If you do need to climb up into the bed, you can fold the inner gate into a full-width step that can support a fair amount of weight. The step can also act as a footrest for tailgate parties. Open the inner gate while the main gate is closed, and you can use it as a work surface that you don’t have to bend over too far to reach.

Ford Pro Access Tailgate

Ford has never been afraid to innovate how it makes its trucks—anyone who remembers the controversy over the amount of aluminum added to the body of the 2015 F-150 knows that this is true. So it’s not surprising that the automaker got in on the multipurpose tailgate game. If anything, it seems strange that Ford waited so long to bring its own unique tailgate to market. But, better late than never, the 2024 F-150 introduced the new Ford Pro Access tailgate.

The Pro Access tailgate also uses a door-within-a-door design, but instead of folding up or down, this inner gate swings to the side. As the name implies, access to the cargo bed is the main benefit of this design in two different ways. One is that it’s easier to reach further back into the bed since you can swing the door completely out of the way instead of folding the main tailgate down so that it stands between you and your stuff. The other is that the swinging door can open when a trailer is hooked up in the back. In fact, the door automatically holds in place at 37, 70, and 100 degrees, so you can open it a little to avoid banging it on your trailer or swing it completely open when the coast is clear.

A man unloading gear from the bed of a silver 2024 RAM 1500.

Ram Multifunction Tailgate

If Ford’s tailgate design seems a bit familiar, you might have seen the Ram Multifunction tailgate, which debuted as an option for the 2019 Ram 1500. The two are definitely similar. Both can swing open to the side so you can access the bed more easily and avoid hitting a trailer while one is hooked up. However, while Ford has a small door within the larger tailgate, Ram simply gives the full gate a 60/40 split.

You can choose to open either the smaller door or the larger one, depending on whether you want to sneak in without hitting a trailer jack or want a wider access point. Either door can be opened up to 88 degrees, which is not quite as wide as the 100-degree figure that Ford boasts. Of course, the traditional tailgate function is still possible as well, and the tailgate can be operated remotely, is dampened, and can support up to 2,000 lbs.

Honda Dual-Action Tailgate

You can argue that the unibody Honda Ridgeline isn’t a “real truck” all you want, but it undeniably has a tailgate, and the design of that tailgate clearly belongs on this list. While all of the examples so far have been new designs added to a truck’s lineup in recent years, the Ridgeline has come standard with its innovative tailgate since it was first released back in the 2006 model year. Like the Ford Pro Action tailgate and Ram Multifunction tailgate, the Ridgeline’s Dual-Action tailgate can either fold down like usual or swing to the side to give you easy access to the bed. Unlike the Ram and Ford trucks, however, the Ridgeline doesn’t have a tailgate with a split in it: the whole thing swings to the side.

There are two reasons for this: one is that the Ridgeline doesn’t have the same kind of towing capacity as a body-on-frame truck, so it’s not as necessary to account for the presence of a trailer in its tailgate’s design. The other is that the tailgate gives you access to the Ridgeline’s lockable trunk, which is built into the floor of the cargo bed. It’s just as wide as the bed, so it makes sense that the door has to open all the way to provide proper access. Opening the tailgate to the side also allows you to use the part of the bumper beneath the license plate as a step.

A rear view of a white 2024 Honda Ridgeline parked in a forest.

Which Design Is Best?

Clearly, there’s something to the idea of having a tailgate that’s able to swing to the side in addition to lowering down behind the truck. This concept has been around for many years, and it’s rising to further prominence now that it’s an option on the popular F-150. The biggest difference between the various swing-open designs is how much of the tailgate does the swinging. Since each setup has its own pros and cons, this basically comes down to the individual and whether they’re often towing a trailer that gets in the way of a traditional tailgate or have a truck for hauling payload and care more about having a wide access point to the bed itself.

The General Motors design, whether you get it on the GMC Sierra or the Chevy Silverado, is clearly an outlier among the others, which is interesting since it arguably kicked off the recent trend of trick tailgates. It’s hard to say for sure why it’s not being copied more closely by competitors. Maybe its design is so unique that it’s better protected as intellectual property than something as simple as a swinging door.

Whatever the reason for its distinctiveness, the MultiPro/Multi-Flex tailgate is easily the most versatile of the bunch. GMC got flack when it first released the feature for boasting about the MultiPro’s six functions when one of those functions was just a traditional tailgate, and that’s fair. But even five unique functions are considerably more than the side-swinging doors can offer. While the best design ultimately comes down to an individual truck driver’s needs, the GM tailgate delivers the widest range of possibilities, not just for loading and unloading but also for transporting extra-long cargo, comfortably getting work done, and kicking back at a tailgate party.

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