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10 Biggest News Stories of the Week: Ford F-150 Raptor Swoops in on Lexus ES 350

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-02-exterior-front-angle-orange-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 was great and all if you do the vast majority of your driving on, like … the road. But you’re in luck if highway driving and hauling couches take a backseat to crawling rocks, kicking up mud and fording streams. The Ford F-150 Raptor is back and even better than before (when it was awesome). That’s according to Cars.com reviewer Brian Normile, whose comprehensive critique of the Raptor soars straight to the top of this week’s countdown of most popular articles, taking its perch in the first-place spot.

Related: 10 Biggest News Stories of the Month: Honda Passport, Ford Escape, EcoSport Can’t Deal With Mazda

Ford’s off-road-amped pickup truck earned praise for its 12-inch digital instrument panel and 12-inch multimedia display running the highly regarded Sync 4 system; a mostly well-designed steering wheel; a built-in center console work surface; a bunch of suspension upgrades that keep things under control both on Easy Street and Rocky Road; impressive, off-the-line oomph from the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 putting out 450 horsepower and 510 pounds-feet of torque; its top EPA-rated gas mileage of 15/18/16 mpg city/highway/combined; and a 2.0-kilowatt version of the ProPower Onboard generator.

The new truck’s most glaring drawback is that, despite being birds of a feather with the Ram 1500 TRX, the Raptor just isn’t as talon-ted … talon-ted (sorry, Normile took the good “Jurassic Park” references in his review, which leaves me with either basketball or bird stuff). Notable areas where the Raptor gets its wings clipped by the TRX are the latter’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and accompanying exhaust growl — both of which shortcomings will hopefully be compensated for by the forthcoming Raptor R variant.

“In a very narrow segment where bragging rights are everything, Ford has ceded the high ground to Ram,” Normile writes in his review. “That’s not to say this Raptor is bad at all; I loved driving it. The Raptor is a ton of fun, and it feels quicker and handles better than any pickup truck ever should. But until the upcoming Raptor R presents a more serious challenge to the TRX, the Ram will remain the king of the dinosaurs.”

For the full review, follow the link below to the No. 1 article of the past week.

Making a strong play for the top spot, but falling just short, meanwhile, is Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek’s comprehensive critique of the updated-for-2022 Lexus ES 350. This latest incarnation of Lexus’ mid-size luxury sports sedan generally avoids trying to fix what ain’t broke while addressing shortcomings of the outgoing model — specifically by replacing that frustrating no-touch infotainment system with a touchscreen setup.

“Incremental changes have kept the Lexus ES sedan fresh since its 2019 model-year redesign, including a four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive ES 250 in 2021,” Bruzek writes. “But the 2022 ES is the best version yet — and it didn’t take an entire redesign or even a significant refresh to get there; all it took was a touchscreen.”

For the full review, follow the link below to our No. 2 article of the week.

Beyond that, we’ve got headlines on the Ford Maverick, Toyota Highlander, Genesis GV70, Ford Explorer, Honda Passport, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and much more — so don’t stop reading till the digits double. Here are the top 10 news stories Cars.com readers couldn’t get enough of in the past week:

1. 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Review: Better, But With a Big Problem

2. 2022 Lexus ES 350 Review: Now More Reasons to Buy

3. What’s the Best New-Car Deal for December 2021?

4. Electric Outage: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Reservations Full, Maverick Hybrid Sold Out

5. What’s New With Lexus for 2022?

6. Life with the Toyota Highlander: What Do Owners Really Think?

7. 2022 Genesis GV70 Review: Has Genesis Finally Nailed It?

8. Ford Explorer: Which Should You Buy, 2021 or 2022?

9. Updated Honda Passport Loses Base Trim, Now Starts at $39,095

10. 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Gets Maximum EPA Range of 303 Miles

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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