The Infiniti M35 is still the class leader in Consumer Reports' tests of six luxury sedans. However, two versions of the freshened Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the diesel-powered E320 BlueTec and the gasoline-powered E350, are close behind with "Excellent" overall scores.

The other luxury cars include the freshened BMW 535i, "Very Good" overall; the gasoline/electric hybrid Lexus GS 450h, "Very Good"; and the redesigned Volvo S80, "Very Good". Prices for the group range from $45,305 for the Volvo to $60,172 for the Lexus.

The diesel-powered E320 delivered excellent fuel economy, 29 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests -- comparable to that of a small sedan such as the Toyota Corolla. Fuel economy for the other vehicles in the group ranged from a high of 23 mpg for the GS 450h to a low of 19 for the M35.

Consumer Reports tested the rear-wheel-drive M35 as an update to the all-wheel-drive M35X that was previously tested; the M35X was CR's 2007 Top Pick in the luxury car category. The previously-tested M35X garnered an overall score of 97 points, while the newly-tested M35 was close behind, with an overall score of 95 points.

The magazines November issue also includes tests and ratings of two $70,000-plus ultra-luxury sedans: the $76,572 Lexus LS 460L and the $90,200 Mercedes-Benz S550. The LS 460L easily outdistanced the Mercedes in that group, achieving a 99-point overall test score; the maximum score is 100. The S550 received an 86-point score, considerably lower than the Lexus but still in the "Excellent" category.

"Both versions of the Infiniti M35 are well-rounded, nimble cars that successfully blend sportiness with comfort," said David Champion, Senior Director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. "The M35s are as capable handling a twisty road as they are cruising the highway."

Four of the vehicles are recommended by Consumer Reports -- the BMW 535i, the Infiniti M35, Lexus GS 450h and the Lexus LS 460L. The Mercedes E-Class and S-Class have subpar reliability in CR's subscriber surveys, while the Volvo S80 is too new for CR to have sufficient reliability data.

Consumer Reports recommends only those vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own print and web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.