Call it the battle of the beds. The cargo beds, that is.
With the fight for market share in the lucrative pick-up truck market steadily escalating, Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. and General Motors all have new or upgraded pickups ready for consumers that focus on features and functions that are heating up their traditional competition.
While some of the updates improve creature comfort, there’s a heavy emphasis on functionality, especially when it comes to both carrying — and accessing — cargo. Ram Truck, FCA’s truck brand, is unveiling a new tailgate for the Ram 1500 that it says will make it easier to use.
“The Ram Multifunction Tailgate is intuitive to operate, and owners will find it immediately useful,” said Reid Bigland, head of Ram Brand – FCA. “Combined with Ram’s class-exclusive RamBox feature and new tailgate step, we’re taking Ram’s cargo management and storage to the next level.”
The Ram 1500 Multifunction Tailgate feature “is unique” among all pickups, and offers customers cargo-access flexibility without compromise, Bigland said. But the Detroit brand isn’t alone in targeting access for the cargo bed on the Ram 1500, which was named North American Truck of the Year for 2019. The two runners-up for the award, handed out at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, had similar ideas in mind.
The GMC Sierra 1500’s tailgate can open in a variety of ways. An portion of the bed can fold down to form something of a table, or flipped the other way when the entire tailgate is opened to create a bed extender. Chevrolet’s Silverado 1500, meanwhile, offers an optional power-operated tailgate that even can be opened remotely using the keyfob.
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Whether the Ram Multifunction Tailgate is the better of these mousetraps will be up to buyers to decide. But the new feature will be available across all seven 2019 Ram 1500 models and will reach dealerships in the second quarter of 2019. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $995. The optional center step is $295, he added.
While retaining the capabilities of a fully-dampened, drop-down tailgate with remote release options, the Ram Multifunction Tailgate adds first-of-its kind 60-40 split, barn door-like, swing-away functionality.
Ram’s Multifunction Tailgate’s dual side-hinged tailgate doors enhance the 1500’s bed access and utility. Independent opening features make curbside loading easier. In addition, being able to access the bed closer to the bumper makes stepping up easier, the brand says, which makes loading and unloading bulky items easier. It also makes cleaning easier and allows forklift loading.
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Unlike other multi-element tailgates, the Ram Multifunction Tailgate is trailer-friendly and does not require that the trailer and hitch be removed before opening, Bigland said. With a 2,000-pound load rating, Ram Multifunction Tailgate retains all of the traditional tailgate’s capability.
Packaged with a spray-in bedliner, the Ram Multifunction Tailgate has four configurations: open flat, open left door only, open right door only and open both doors. Each door swings open 88 degrees, and access can be further enhanced via a retractable center-mounted step option.
The Ram Multifunction Tailgate also complements other features such as the RamBox cargo management system, which includes weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable storage bins built into the bed rails. RamBox bins also feature a 115-volt, 400-watt outlet. Also available with RamBox is a pickup bed divider/two-foot bed extender and cargo rail system with four sliding, adjustable cleats.
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Interior storage was also high on the priority list for the new Ram 1500. The Ram 1500 features more than 151 liters of interior storage capacity — nearly 100% more than the closest competitor.
If the competition in the light-duty pickup segment is heating up, it’s also becoming tough in the heavy-duty market. Chevy on Tuesday rolled out its all-new Silverado HD line, following by two weeks sibling GMC brand’s debut of the Sierra HD. Ford this week revealed significant updates to its Super Duty line and Ram has updated its new heavy-duty models, as well.
(Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.)