Ram Trucks this spring will add a new four-way tailgate that simplifies loading cargo in tight spaces. Due in dealerships on the 2019 Ram 1500 light-duty pickup in the second quarter, the Multifunction Tailgate will be a $995 option.
The tailgate is split 40/60, and has hinges on either side in addition to the bottom hinges all pickup tailgates have. The object is to allow owners to open just a part of the tailgate sideways when they don't have enough room to lower the tailgate. That can happen in tight parking spots or when a trailer is hooked up behind the pickup.
Unchanged for a century, tailgates recently became a center of invention. GMC began the feature race with the MultiPro tailgate on its Sierra 1500 pickup a year ago. The MultiPro opens up in six different ways to make it easier to load items, carry loads and access the bed, but it only has traditional bottom hinges.
Ram's four-way tailgate is the first response to GMC's invention, but you can bet Ford is also working on new tailgate ideas for its best-selling F-series pickup.
"Pickup owners are looking for innovations and technologies that make their lives easier," IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said. "Pickups are hot, and these deeply thought-out advances make them easier to use. GMC's MultiPro tailgate demonstrated the appetite for innovation."
Ram's four-way tailgate can support loads up to 2,000 pounds, making it fully functional for carrying cattle, horses and heavy gear. Its four modes are: traditional open flat; open right side only; open left side, and open both sides.
"The Ram Multifunction Tailgate is intuitive to operate, and owners will find it immediately useful," Ram brand chief Reid Bigland said.
Ram is also adding a center tailgate step to make it easier to get in and out of the pickup bed. The center step will be available for $295 in the second quarter.
Ram will also reveal its 2019 chassis cab 3500, 4500 and 5500 medium-duty pickups at the Chicago auto show this week. Chassis cabs are bigger, sturdier vehicles that have a cab, but no factory made bed. They come with an exposed rear that can be fitted with dump truck, flat bed, stake beds, utility buckets and other equipment.
The Ram chassis cabs can tow up to 35,220 pounds and a total combined vehicle weight up to 43,000 pounds.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Visit Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com