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Truck tailgates are simple items, right? For the most part, yes, they are. Most tailgates simply lift up or open down to give access to the truck’s bed. Over the past few years, this rear area of many trucks has changed and evolved. Some tailgates open via remote, some open sideways, and others have several functions. Let’s look at how you can use pickup truck tailgates to handle the load.

What is the tailgate of a truck?

Family Enjoying Drive-In Movie Truck Using the Tailgate as a Seat
Family Enjoying Drive-In Movie Truck Using the Tailgate as a Seat | Getty Images

The tailgate is the rear wall of a truck bed. It unlatches from the sides, like the door of a vehicle. In most cases, this rear wall then falls down flat to give you access to the truck bed. Kelley Blue Book tells us that tailgates serve many different functions. Most commonly, they hold a load of materials inside the truck bed on the way to the job site. Another common use is as a step or seat during a “tailgate party” at a football game.

The evolution of the tailgate has gone from a simple load stop to a place that can be:

  • An outdoor workstation
  • Step stool
  • Measuring tool
  • Cupholder
  • Mounting area of speakers
  • Cargo aid

Are tailgates and liftgates the same thing?

Red Truck Bed with Tailgate Down
Red Truck Bed with Tailgate Down | Shutterstock

No, they are not. While both tailgates and liftgates serve similar functions, they are completely different. The liftgate on an SUV or hatchback raises upward to offer access to a cargo area. A truck’s tailgate lowers downward to offer access to the truck bed.

What tailgate functions do some trucks offer?

The truck tailgate seems like such a simple device, but many automakers have found ways to try and one-up each other by offering various functionalities. These added functions generally benefit us as consumers; let’s see what’s offered:


The Ram 1500 Multi-Function Tailgate with the larger part open
Ram 1500 Multi-Function Tailgate | Stellantis

The multi-function tailgate of the Ram 1500 offers dual side hinges. This allows the gate to swing open in each direction. The gate is split 60/40, which allows you to swing open each side individually if necessary. Along with the tailgate, Ram also offers a center-mounted step option that makes bed access easier. If you want the tailgate to open normally, it also does this. The Ram gate is fully dampened and can open via remote.


GMC MultiPro Tailgate Open downward as a step
GMC MultiPro/Chevrolet Multi-Flex Tailgate | GM

The GMC MultiPro/Chevy Multi-Flex tailgate has gained incredible popularity since it first burst on the scene. This tailgate offers six different functions to make it extremely useful. A smaller gate inside the main tailgate offers the desired functionality. This gate can hold longer objects in place, be a step to access the bed, or be a work surface. You can operate this tailgate from the cab or via a button on the key fob.


The Ford F-150 Tailgate with the built-in step out
Ford F-150 Tailgate | Ford

The Ford F-150 tailgate offers lots of useful spaces for your pencils, phone, and coffee while using the area as a work surface. This tailgate offers a cleat system, clamp pocks on either side, and a step down to give you easier access to the bed. The Ford Maverick has a QR code to give you some DIY organization systems that are easy to build and extremely useful.


Honda Ridgeline Swing Tailgate Open and bed trunk open
Honda Ridgeline Swing Tailgate | Honda

Among the midsize trucks, the Honda Ridgeline is the only one that offers a non-traditional tailgate. This gate can either swing fully open sideways or lay down flat, depending on how you need to access items in the truck bed.

Next, learn more about the off-road qualities of the 2023 GMC Sierra HD AT4, or watch the truck tailgate video below:


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