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A lot of people use trucks to do “work” things, like haul lumber and dirt, but I like to think the truck was made specifically for tailgating. Load the bed with a cooler, a grill, and chairs, and you have a party base camp. Add a tarp and a bunch of water, and it’s a swimming pool. The point is, the truck bed isn’t just for hauling things, it’s for hanging out. Being from a small southern town, I spent many of my formative years drinking beer in the back of a truck in a field off the edge of Old Man Wilson’s farm. Tailgating on an actual tailgate is sublime.
What’s strange is that the actual tailgate of a truck hasn’t evolved much in the last five or six decades. Thankfully, 2019 has brought us a tailgate arms race, with multiple truck manufacturers trying to one-up each other with new and improved designs. Ford kick-started the competition with its F150 tailgate, which has a built-in step that slides out of the gate, and Dodge and Honda introduced versions with barn-door-style access. But GMC’s new MultiPro tailgate ($ 66,445 for full truck build, as tested) is next-level cool, with a Transformer-like design that shines brightest where it counts: in the sport of kings that is tailgating.
The MultiPro drops flat, like a conventional tailgate, but it also has a smaller inner gate with its own hinge, so you can raise and lower the two tailgate panels in different combinations depending on the situation. Lower the main gate and then lower the inner gate to create a step for easy bed access; keep the main tailgate raised, but plunk down the inner gate to create a work station similar to a standing desk; knock down the main gate, but pop the inner gate halfway open to extend the truck bed by two feet. The MultiPro comes standard on all models of the GMC Sierra, which is a beefy, light-duty truck that’s comparable to the new Ford F150 and Dodge Ram. Although the gate was designed to improve Sierra’s work capabilities, I spent a week driving the Sierra 1500 AT4 to see how the MultiPro impacted the important things—hauling outdoor gear and drinking beer.
First, you should know that the Sierra 1500 is a beast. It’s got a 6.2-liter V-8 engine with a ten-speed automatic transmission that packs 420 horsepower, 460 pounds of torque, and up to 12,000 pounds of towing capacity. The AT4 is a four-wheel-drive package that turns this work truck into a fully capable off-road machine. But don’t let the work-truck bones fool you: this is a luxury vehicle loaded with conveniences, like air-conditioned seats that vibrate when you veer out of your lane. It is an incredibly comfortable and roomy vehicle that is fun in the dirt and plush on the highway. The bed itself is wide (just over 50 inches) but relatively short at 69.9 inches. GMC makes up for it with the MultiPro; the ability to extend the bed by two feet is perfect for carrying lumber.
While the MultiPro offers a plethora of customizations, there aren’t a lot of features that affect how you carry gear. I loaded a couple of ten-foot paddleboards into the truck on multiple days and had the tailgate up in a conventional mode to keep the boards in. I also hung mountain bikes over the tailgate just as I would in any other truck. Multiple tie-down points in each corner of the bed made it easy to lock bikes and strap down unwieldy items, but the MultiPro gate didn’t come into play while carrying that gear. However, it was a rock star when it was time to camp and tailgate.
GMC sells a camping package that includes a mattress and Napier Sportz Truck Tent that fits over the bed. I love the concept, because it lets you drop the tailgate to add extra legroom, which means someone over six feet tall could spend the night in this five-foot-eight-inch truck bed without feeling cramped. I wasn’t in love with the tent itself, though. The connection points between the tent and truck are less than bomber, and the polyester-taffeta walls feel thin. I spent a night in it, and while it is plenty roomy and perfectly suitable if you’re only going to camp occasionally, I’d look into a sturdier option if truck camping or overlanding is your thing. The tent doesn’t hold up well in high winds, and I think the material would begin to wear after multiple uses. If you’re comfortable spending $ 60,000 on a truck, I’d spend a little more cash for a better tent.
But the tailgate itself is a thing of beauty. Like I said, it’s ostensibly designed to enhance the load-hauling capabilities and accessibility of the bed for people who “work.” And that it does; converting the gate into a step makes loading a cooler full of beer a breeze. But even better, lowering the tailgate into a step also turns it into a comfortable bench, complete with handy side tables with cup holders—a feature that proved to be key during postride beer sessions. You can even take it up a notch and get the Denali version of the truck and tailgate, which has built-in speakers and ports for your phone.
Or you can keep the main tailgate closed and drop just the inner gate to create a workstation that operates like a standing desk. And by workstation, I really mean bar. I used it multiple times to serve cocktails and snacks while camping. And that’s what the MultiPro excels at: creating a space where you want to hang out. I found myself looking for reasons to spend time on the back of the truck. Just finished riding? Stick around, and let’s talk about our Strava segments. Waiting to pick up your kids from school? You may as well chill out in the back of the truck. Knocked out some epic grocery shopping? You should have a beer in the parking lot. Lower the tailgate into bench mode, slide your cooler to the edge of the bed, have a beer, and start carving up the cheese plate. GMC’s Sierra plays in a crowded field full of popular trucks, but its new MultiPro tailgate slays the après scene like no other.
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