When the RX Series debuted in 1997, it marked an entry into some uncharted waters not just for Lexus, but for the broader SUV segment and even the automotive landscape as a whole. It beat BMW , Acura, Lincoln, Cadillac and Audi to the punch in releasing a luxury crossover, and now, three generations and multiple facelifts on, it has a bit of a cult following and remains a big seller for Lexus.

However, the faithful RX now has some much more varied competition both from outside and even within the brand itself, with the arrival of the much-ballyhooed – but smaller – NX Series.

So we decided to take the latest 2015 RX 350 to test grounds it should excel in: a week-long road trip through British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region.

If looks could kill…

Well, they may need to take a couple of extra shots in the case of the RX.

That’s not to say that this is a bad-looking car, but Lexus’s shift to an hourglass-shaped grille opening that extends to below the bumper is not bad for smaller stuff like the IS or GS sports sedans, but a little awkward here.

It’s too bad, because the upper portion of said grille – which gets a chrome finish – is a very handsome number and you’d have to think it would look just fine on its own.

The headlight lenses, on the other hand, are a great touch and they’re nicely accented by a set of standard LED daytime running lights (our tester was the base RX 350 Sportdesign trim, which is joined by the mid-level F-Sport and top RX 450h Hybrid trims; all have V6 power, all get AWD as standard in Canada). The tapering turn signals mounted to the wing mirror housings are a nice feature, as well.

2015 Lexus RX3502015 Lexus RX350
2015 Lexus RX350. Click image to enlarge

The rear saw slightly less change after the 2012 facelift, which is a good thing; while the clear taillights may divide opinion, they are unique and have been a bit of a stylistic calling card for the RX ever since its debut.

One feature I would definitely leave, however, are the small indentations on the rear doors just before the wheels; I don’t know how many times during the trip that I looked at the RX from the rear three-quarter angle and thought I spotted a dent on the doors. I just don’t see the point.

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