QOTD: Which Tailgate Is the Best Tailgate?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
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qotd which tailgate is the best tailgate

Wandering the 2020 Chicago Auto Show floor on the second media day, I entertained myself by playing with trucks.

More specifically, I tinkered with the trick tailgates found on GMC and Ram models, plus the in-bed cooler offered by Honda’s Ridgeline. Also springing to mind is the available roll-up tonneau cover offered by Jeep’s Gladiator, as well as that old stalwart, the RamBox.

I found myself wondering – if size, price, and all other considerations didn’t matter, and the only thing that did matter in a truck-purchasing decision was the coolest tailgate or bed hardware, which truck would I pick?

It’s obviously an exercise in irrationality, as other factors matter a great deal more. If you need a big truck, the smaller Ridgeline and Gladiator will be left on the lot, cooler and tonneau or not.

After some deliberation, I decided the MultiPro unit offered by GMC was the best of the bunch, thanks in part to the audio system. It also works easily and provides a nice step up.

Honda’s in-bed cooler is awesome, and I get the use case for the swing-out gate offered by Ram. The RamBox remains one of the best ideas in truckin’, and while I didn’t mess with one on the show floor, I’ve tested the Gladiator before, and the tonneau cover is easy to work with. Even with a broken finger.

What say you, B & B?

[Image: General Motors]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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5 of 82 comments
  • Smartascii Smartascii on Feb 11, 2020

    I have an F-150 that I got because I needed to tow 5-9k lbs, and the larger SUVs are quite a bit more expensive than the trucks out the door. And, yes, I know there are smaller vehicles that are rated to tow that much, but my experience is that things get a little squirrelly when you get right up against the ratings. The bed needs steps and extenders and dividers to be useful for much of anything. The RamBox and split tailgate are definitely making me consider that for my next truck, though I probably actually would prefer a SWB Tahoe/Expedition if the money comes out the same.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 11, 2020

    @Vulpine - When did I say they're "designed poorly"? Except they're designing current 1/2 tons too low, caving to whiners. Yeah fullsize beds aren't the most user-friendly compared to vintage pickups, old 2wds especially. and it's not in error. But I'd rather not go back in time. Nor would most buyers. I much prefer the high sides, and tall (factory) stance. My power equipment, generator, tools, supplies aren't visible when I park and walk away. I'll park away from the cluster of cars, or across the street, and it looks like any empty pickup. Except I can't comprehend why snivelers have a particular problem with simple, common sense, workarounds.

  • Dan Dan on Feb 11, 2020

    Put me in the bed heights are silly camp. Yeah it's just a couple of inches over the generations but that couple of inches, and the couple of inches more on the taller walls, is the difference between comfortable reach and awkward stretch. I'm 6'3 and my F-150 was right on the cusp. I took out the rear blocks and that prima facie trivial 1.25" got it back to comfortable for me. Looks better too. As far as tailgates, 9/10 of the headache is reaching over the bed sides so this really doesn't matter much. My F-150 has the man step, which I used exactly once. Dumb gimmick, and makes the tailgate about twice as heavy to close too.

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Feb 12, 2020

    I'm surprised that, with the recent emphasis on tailgates, no manufacturer has (yet) tried to introduce (re-introduce?) the two-way tailgate (hinged either on the bottom or the sides) that was so popular on 1970s and 1980s station wagons.