There’s a new tailgate in town, and Ford is calling it the Pro Access Tailgate. The folks over at GM and Ram have both put forth their revolutionary takes on fancy tailgate tech, and now Ford finally has a version of its own on the 2024 Ford F-150.
The big party trick on display here at the Detroit Auto Show is the middle portion of the Pro Access Tailgate, which swings out like a single barn door. Unlike the Ram Multifunction Split Tailgate, Ford’s version swings open the center while leaving equal portions of the tailgate both to the left and right of it in place. And no, those portions don’t swing out.
The point of a sideways-swinging tailgate is the same in the F-150 as it is in other trucks that offer it. You can walk right on up to the edge of the bed without having to lean across a flat tailgate, allowing for easier loading and unloading of awkward items. That said, Ford’s version of the swing-out tailgate ultimately leaves you with a narrower opening than others because of the portions of the gate that stay in place when you swing out the middle section. Such a limitation may not be bothersome to your use case, but even if it is, the tailgate will drop on down as it traditionally does for wider loads.
Of course, this new tailgate necessitated a switch-up from the traditional ladder step and extendable grab handle seen in the standard tailgate design. Instead, a footstep can be pulled out from under the bumper, allowing you to first step up onto there. Then, Ford extended the bumper section to act as a second step that you can hop to before hauling yourself the rest of the way into the bed. Ford used that stationary part of the tailgate to integrate a hand-hold in so that you can pull yourself up and balance from there. The experience is somewhat similar to the old step, but you’ll need to give it a whirl to see which solution works best for you.
One interesting aspect of the Pro Access Tailgate is how Ford thought it through for trailering purposes. The swing gate has a few detents that it opens to, and the first one is right at 37 degrees. Ford says this allows for you to open it the maximum amount without smashing the door into your hitch and trailer directly behind the truck. In many cases, you’d be stuck climbing in from the side or simply reaching over the bed sides to retrieve belongings with a trailer hooked up. Now, you can just open up to the first detent and climb in and out of the bed without issue. Ford also had to relocate all of the trailering cable ports to the other side of the truck so that you wouldn’t be tripping over them while climbing in and out.
In case you were worried about this newfangled tailgate being weaker than the regular one, Ford promises that it offers all the same weight capacities and strength of the standard drop-down tailgate. The only trim where it will be mandatory is in the new-for-2024 Platinum Plus (replacing the Limited) trim. Other than that, it will be optional on every trim from the XLT on up. Ford isn’t talking pricing, but expect a notable extra charge for the Pro Access Tailgate.