Truck YeahThe trucks are good!  

On Thursday in Detroit, General Motors unveiled the new 2019 GMC Sierra, a truck whose craziest feature by far is the “MultiPro” tailgate that can be set into six different configurations. Here’s exactly how it works.

If you’d like a quick video explainer showing the basics of how the tailgate functions, watch Derek Patterson, a GMC engineer who helped develop the MultiPro tailgate, walk me through all six different configurations:

The tailgate, which is comprised of three main components—the primary tailgate, the inner tailgate, and the load stop—is operated via these two little rubber buttons just above the giant GMC badge:

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Those buttons can actuate four electric latches, two on either side of the truck between the inner tailgate and the outer edge of the main tailgate:

Press the bottom button, and you’ll actuate two electronic latches (corresponding to “1" in the image above), which appear to be simply bolted to the main tailgate:

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Those latches will open, and the tailgate will drop slowly. Like many tailgates on modern trucks, it is damped.

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From that position, you can put your fingers into a little recessed rectangular hole on the back surface (now the “top”) of the tailgate, and pull this red plastic button towards the rear of the truck:

Doing so will pull in two latches (see the red arrow the picture below—note that the inner tailgate is down in the image below as well) on either side of the load stop. With the latches pulled, the black striker (pointed out with a blue arrow) bolted to the sides of the inner tailgate will will release the load stop.

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And since the red button pushes in rather far, you can just yank the load stop from the ledge above the button, and pivot it about its hinges into a vertical position:

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This allows you to put your oversized sheets of wood and pipes and other long things in your bed without worrying about them flying out of the back and impaling someone.

Note that you’re limited in how wide of objects you can use with this load stop, since anything more than about four feet will end up pushing the support straps. (That said, objects that wide likely wouldn’t fit between the wheel humps, anyhow.)

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Here’s a closer look at the support straps, with an arrow pointing again to the striker to which the load stop’s latch grabs to keep the load stop closed:

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Notice how there is no locking mechanism keeping the load stop firmly in its upward position (it does remain there without assistance, though—at least when the truck isn’t moving). That, according to Patterson, is so that when people are using that for a step (which I’ll show next), they won’t have to unlock the load stop every time they want to close their tailgate.

From that position, if you want a step to help you get into your bed, you’ve got to guess at where the top of the two aforementioned buttons is by putting your finger under the tailgate and feeling for some rubber round buttons.

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There doesn’t appear to be any visual indicator on the bed to help guide you, but don’t give up. The buttons are down there.

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Once you’ve pushed the top button (which is now the most rearward button), the second set of electric latches (one is shown above; it corresponds to “2" in the previously-shown actuator graphic) open, and the result looks something like this:

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to lift the load stop/step before clicking that inner tailgate button you fumbled around for—it’s easy enough to just open the tailgate, find the button and open the inner tailgate, and then fold down the step.

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I hopped on the step, and found no real reason to need a handle to get up onto the bed, but perhaps if I had a load in my hand, or if I weren’t as healthy as I am, the handle—fastened to the driver’s side inner bedside—would have helped.

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That handle, when pulled out of its plastic holder (pointed out with a red arrow the two images above), locks into a position that aims diagonally towards the rear passenger’s side of the vehicle. Here’s a look at Patterson using the handle and step to get into the bed:

The trigger pointed out in blue in the image before the last releases the handle from its locked position so it can be stored again in its C-shaped, plastic holder.

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Illustration: GM Patent Application

It’s an extremely simple handle design—much more so than the intricate, three-position, in-tailgate setup described in one of GM’s patent applications that we looked at a few months back (shown above).

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Also worth mentioning are the lights built into the inner tailgate, as shown above, which can help you place your foot onto that step, which has grip tape on it, and is rated to hold up to 375 pounds of static load.

When you’re done with that step, pushing it back into its stowed position (or not ever folding it down in the first place) yields about eight or nine inches of additional reach into the bed.

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I found that closing the primary tailgate from this position is a bit awkward, as the inner tailgate doesn’t close first. Both the inner and primary tailgate close simultaneously, which is a bit strange to get used to. Though it is worth mentioning that it is possible to push down on the primary tailgate to prevent it from lifting so that you can close inner tailgate first, and then shut both of them together.

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Now that we’ve looked at four of the truck’s configurations (regular tailgate-down; tailgate down with load stop; tailgate and inner tailgate down for added reach; tailgate, inner tailgate and step down), let’s look at the final two, which apply when pushing the top button with the main tailgate in the closed position.

That will actuate the two inner electric latches (one is shown above), and—with a little tug rearwards—the inner tailgate will rotate about its hinges, and slowly drop.

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Yes, slowly. That’s because the inner tailgate is also damped. You can see how by looking closely at the black steel hinges shown in the photo below:

The left hinge is the one that contains a strut for damping. Here’s a look at that:

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And here it is a little closer:

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The right one, however, contains only a wire harness (you can see the Christmas tree fastener holding the wire in the picture below), which is needed for the step lights, the buttons, the rear light and the rearview camera.

Anyway, once this inner tailgate has dropped, the truck will look like this:

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GMC considers this configuration a “standing workstation,” showing a man on a laptop as an example of how to use this odd-looking, tall, folded-down miniature tailgate. From there, you can pull on the red button rearwards, which will yank the two pins on either side away from the “striker.”:

Pull on the ledge just above the button, and the result will be another load stop, but at a higher level than if the tailgate were down.

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That may seem like a random place to have a load stopper, but as Patterson pointed out, that inner tailgate, when folded down as shown above—aligns approximately with the 2x6 bed slots, which are meant to allow for two-tier storage:

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In other words, if you throw some 2x6s across your bed, you can store a bunch of stuff under that “false floor,” and you can toss stuff on top, including long things, as the load stop will keep them from flying out of the back.

One thing worth mentioning about the buttons: you cannot open the primary tailgate if the inner tailgate is open, as there’s an “ajar switch” that will prevent it. This, Patterson told me, is a safety measure.

So what this means is that if you want to quickly use your bed’s step (i.e. you don’t want to have to fold the primary tailgate and then search for the button underneath), you have to do as is shown in the .gif at the top of this article: press the bottom button and then quickly thereafter, press the top one. This will lower both the primary and inner tailgate simultaneously, and all you’ll have to do is fold down the step.

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Easy enough.