Truck Camper Magazine experiences GM’s exclusive GMC Multi-Flex tailgate (aka the Chevy Multi-Pro) with built-in full-width steps. Is this trick multi-function tailgate a game changer for truck campers, or a misstep?
With the increasing demand for lightweight truck campers for half-ton trucks, a number of manufacturers have pursued ways to trim standard features and save a pound here or an ounce there. At the same time, the ability to close the tailgate has become an important feature for convenience, security, and the ability to use the now common tailgate rearview camera systems. Tailgates aren’t just tailgates any more.
All of this amounts to two things. First, camper steps on half-ton campers are often eliminated in favor of portable and/or removable step systems. And second, campers that end before the tailgate often cannot – by design – have a built-in step system. Either way, we’re looking at more and more campers that do not feature a factory step system.
We understand that safe and comfortable climbing into and exiting a truck camper is a very important topic to our readership. For this reason, we ask the manufacturers about their entry step systems during new product announcements, especially if their camper does not feature one. For years the recommendation from manufacturers of step-less campers has been a scissor step (like Torklift International’s GlowSteps and Stow N’Go system) or an inexpensive plastic set of steps.
More recently, some industry leaders have mentioned the multi-function tailgates with built-in steps. From these conversations, GM’s Multi-Flex (GMC) and Multi-Pro (Chevy) transformer tailgates are more than meets the eye for half-ton, step-less truck camper owners. There’s also a clear logic to this approach; if you’re already taking your tailgate, why wouldn’t you want a built-in step system?
Well, it’s not quite that simple – literally.
GMC Multi-Flex: Form, Function, and Confusion
We had the opportunity to experience and test the GMC Multi-Pro at D&H RV Truck Camper Emporium in Jacksonville, Florida. The GMC truck was loaded with a Cirrus 620, one of the aforementioned models that forgoes a standard entry step system. Time to step up and try out the GMC Multi-Pro.
What followed was pure comedy. The transcript of my thoughts was something like, “I am the Publisher of Truck Camper Magazine and I can’t get this @#$% fancy pants tailgate to open. What the…?”
At first blush, the GM Multi-Flex/Pro system is not intuitive. If you don’t learn how the system works ahead of time, you probably won’t be able to open the tailgate, much less reveal the steps.
This is the kind of future situation that haunts me; mechanical things that were once done without thought or concern suddenly require layers of technology and non-intuitive processes. This time it was opening a truck tailgate with some unidentified buttons. In the future, when I’m in my twilight years, it will be a toilet that requires a software update to flush, or a sofa that needs a two-factor authentication password to recognize my posterior as a trusted device. You laugh now.
Above: Note the bottom right button on the key fob. Simple, right?
A quick internet search revealed the two-button hokey pokey that makes the GM Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro tailgate system work. There are two buttons on the tailgate; top and bottom.
Pushing the top bottom button once releases and lowers the top section of the tailgate into workstation mode. Pushing the bottom button once releases and lowers the whole tailgate down. You can also release and lower the whole tailgate with the key fob. That’s a neat trick.
To release the steps, you push both the top and bottom buttons in a quick sequence. Once the whole tailgate and the second middle section are dropped, you manually open the steps. Once you understand the buttons and the required sequence, the Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro is easy.
Above: The GMC Multi-Flex Tailgate Steps finally ready to go
Putting the steps and opened tailgate back up is another story altogether. The step manually folds back into the middle section of the tailgate, but then the opened tailgate and middle section require an awkward lift, fold, and close back into the travel position. This kind of awkward manual puzzle is not a technical challenge, but a bit disappointing from a design point of view.
GMC Multi-Flex: Game Changer or Misstep?
I am often the last one to get excited about something added to trucks or campers that (a) increases complexity, (b) increases cost, and (c) increases weight. Unfortunately, GM’s Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro system ticks all of those boxes, but that’s not where this tailgate story ends.
After a short period of time, the complexity should be a non-issue. Like most things, you learn it and move on. Cost is a personal judgement and getting more so as inflation turns our dollars into Monopoly money. Only you can say if the added cost is an issue.
Above: Click to play Chevrolet’s Multi-Flex Tailgate demonstration
If you’re already committed to carrying your tailgate with your camper, the additional weight should also be a non-issue. The two-piece tailgate system adds weight to the tailgate, but so would carrying an additional step system. One could get technical about how much one way or the other, but I think the convenience of having the steps inside the tailgate is worth the – possible – extra few pounds.
One huge caveat to the Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro for truck campers is towing. If you have a receiver hitch installed, the Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro system could impact the hitch and become damaged. GM is well aware of this aspect and has warnings in their manual and on the truck itself. If you have a trailer hitch, you probably should stay with the standard tailgate, or remove your tailgate and use a different camper step solution.
Another caveat is the 375-pound Multi-Flex/Multi-Pro weight rating. If you routinely carry heavy items into your truck bed and/or camper, keep this in mind.
Overall, I’m impressed. If we were to purchase and assemble a half-ton rig, I’d be leaning hard in this direction for all the reasons stated above. Of course, we don’t tow, nor do we have a strong brand preference in the half-ton arena. We loved our 2013 Chevy 3500 short bed single rear wheel. They make a nice truck. So does Ram. So does Ford. So does Toyota.
Thus continues our slippery slope into a more complex and technology-saturated world. In one of my favorite kooky sci-fi films of all time, Sylvester Stallone tried to warn us. Enjoy the following scene from Demolition Man and reflect on our topic today. In the future, it’s all three seashells.