When was the last time you explored your own backyard?

Recently, I was invited to test drive both the 2018 Lexus NX 300 F Sport and the Lexus NX 300 Hybrid under the magnificent gaze of the snow-sprinkled hills of the Okanagan with Lexus Canada.

I haven’t been to that neck of the woods since I was a child, so I was delighted to leave rainy Vancouver behind and head to the beautiful vistas of the Southern Interior.

After a quick flight from YVR to Kelowna, blue skies awaited us as we were put behind the wheel of the Lexus F Sport and sent on our way to our first destination in Penticton.

When test-driving a new vehicle on new roads in a new place, there is always an adjustment period, as you get comfortable with the wheels beneath you. As a Mom, I look for specific qualities in a vehicle. Durability, safety and ease are three top components. I was so pleased to find all three of these essentials were present in the Lexus NX.

Lexus is deeply committed to Omotenashi, the Japanese philosophy regarding hospitality. As part of this value, they aim to anticipate your needs before they arise, and make you feel like an honoured guest ‘in our home’ during your time with us and beyond.

Behind the wheel I certainly felt like I was traveling in style and could see the thoughtful details woven into the vehicle. First off, the trunk had ample space for all my over-packed “essentials.”

The drive was exceptionally comfortable over bumps and stretches of the road where gravel had meandered under our wheels. Braking was smooth and responsive. Our seats clung to us like gloves and cradled my back and bottom for the long stretches of driving. Typically after an hour behind the wheel I need to hop out and stretch, but the adjustments I could make to my seat ensured the long stretches behind the wheel felt like short jaunts.

The NX series also features impressive safety performance. New for 2018, all models feature Enform Safety Connect including automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, emergency assistance button and enhanced roadside assistance. When you’re driving precious cargo, or on a new route, the peace of mind that comes with an Emergency Assistance Button is incredible.

Also new for 2018, all models feature Lexus Safety System +, including the pre-collision system, automatic high beam, dynamic radar cruise control, and lane departure alert with lane keep assist. As a parent there is always a kerfuffle happening in the backseat, so having lane assist is such a fantastic reminder if you have strayed from your lane while helping to defuse an argument or reaching back with a preferred snack.

Other safety features include whiplash injury lessening front seat headrests, a back-up camera, eight airbags, a direct tire pressure monitoring system, an onboard first aid kit, and more.

Traversing these new and twisty roads was never a cause for anxiety with Lexus Enform, which offers a suite of connected technologies designed to provide you with an elevated driving experience.

We easily selected a preferred Sirius XM radio station to keep the mood fun, and the multiple detailed GPS options were clear and comfortable for my directionally-challenged Mom brain.

We pulled into the Penticton Lake Resort at the time Enform had promised, and deposited our bags into rooms at the newly constructed West Wing. Open to the public since June 2017, the West Wing is a wood primary building that stands 6 stories, with 70 rooms (20 of which are suites), and weighs approximately 40% less than that of what it would if made of concrete. Stunning local art can be found all throughout the Wing and our rooms were large, luxurious and cozy. The heated floor in my bathroom was the perfect way to step out of a shower and the king-sized bed was an invitation for me to starfish through the night happily.

Back on the road heading for our lunch reservation, we made a quick pit stop at Spotted Lake, the perfect place for a photo opp. Originally known to the First Nations of the Okanagan Valley as Kliluk, Spotted Lake is richly concentrated with various minerals thus thought to provide therapeutic waters. Most of the water in the lake evaporates over the summer, revealing colourful mineral deposits.

The GPS system then guided us directly to the Backyard Farm’s Chef Table, a culinary experience in Oliver that was like a dream come true for someone who relaxes by watching the Food Channel. Chef Chris Van Hooydonk has transformed a cozy home on the hillside into a private dining experience like no other.

The emphasis is put on sourcing the highest quality seasonal and sustainable ingredients from the surrounding areas. Our meal was presented and served with care from am open kitchen overlooking the dining area.

We were treated to sparkling drinks made with macerated summer fruits grown nearby, and a many course meal where every bite presented our palates with new yet elevated flavour profiles.

My favourite course was dessert, a coconut milk panna cotta with stewed local cherries that was the perfect combination of sweet, creamy and tart. (All of my dishes were carefully and beautifully modified to be gluten-free.)

After an intensely satisfying meal, we were back out on the road behind the wheel of the 2018 LEXUS NX 300 Hybrid for the drive back to the hotel.

Upon getting into the vehicle, the hybrid’s interior presented a delightful pop of colour.

My favourite feature was the dashboard essentials projected onto the windshield so the driver could see the speed limit without having to take your eyes off the road.

As the sun set, after a long day of exploration we parked the cars and were shuttled to the Vanilla Pod Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery  for a rousing round of award-winning wine tasting and a sumptuous dinner filled with lively conversation, as the twinkling lights of Penticton flickered just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.

After a deep sleep in my quiet hotel room and decadent Eggs Benedict with strong coffee at the on-site The Hooded Merganser restaurant, I had one last chance to stroll the waterfront and truly appreciate the beauty of Penticton, a place I won’t take so long to visit again.

Disclosure: I was hosted on a media trip to explore the 2018 LEXUS NX by LEXUS. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Brooke Takhar is a Vancouver-based Mama, humour writer and editor who registered for her wedding at Sephora. She blogs as missteenussr.com, and if you like Caps Lock opinions on coffee, artisanal ice cream, pop culture and parenting, follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Photographer credit: http://janellephotography.ca