AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The Mercedes-Benz E320, which outscored the E350 by a point, is the first of a new wave of “clean diesel” cars that CR tested. It achieved an impressive 29 mpg in overall fuel economy. The E350 is a delight to drive. It feels reassuringly solid and offers an inviting blend of luxury and practicality. It also provides excellent ride comfort and agile handling. For this mid-luxury group, CR also tested the freshened BMW 535i, now powered by a new six-cylinder twin-turbocharged engine; the redesigned Volvo S80; and the Lexus GS 450h. Prices for this group range from $45,305 for the Volvo to $60,172 for the Lexus. CR tested two-wheel drive versions; each model is available with all-wheel drive. The 2008 freshening of the BMW 5 Series is a mixed blessing. CR really liked the new engine, interior craftsmanship and agile handling, but the car’s overcomplicated controls made it frustrating to live with. CR also performed a two-car face-off of ultra-luxury sedans. The new Lexus LS 460L, $76,572, achieved the highest score of any vehicle CR has recently tested, topping the $90,200 Mercedes-Benz S550. Of the eight models included in Consumer Reports’ recent tests, CR recommended the BMW 535i, Infiniti M35, Lexus GS 450h and Lexus LS 460L. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class had subpar reliability records, and the Volvo S80 was too new to provide sufficient reliability data. Blending comfort, technology Luxury cars are designed to cradle their occupants in comfort, surrounding them with rich materials and a host of convenience features. They typically have strong, refined engines to provide effortless acceleration. Many mid-luxury models also provide agile handling that adds a sporty dimension to their character. CR’s top-rated models illustrate the range of the luxury sedans’ driving characteristics. For example, both versions of the Infiniti M35 are well-rounded, nimble cars that successfully blend sportiness with comfort. They are as capable handling a twisty road as they are cruising the highways. But they aren’t as quiet as some other models. By contrast, the isolating quietness of the Lexus LS 460L insulates occupants from the cacophony of the outside world. While it provides a no-compromise environment of comfort and roominess, it’s not particularly agile or fun to drive. Innovative safety features Luxury cars are also often equipped with innovations and safety features well before they are integrated into less-expensive models. For example, the LS 460L came with the first eight-speed automatic transmission and an Advanced Parking Guidance System that can automatically park the car if conditions are right. The S550 features a night-vision system that helps a driver see people and animals that are beyond the reach of the headlights. Both systems are interesting, but they have their drawbacks. Several models offer adaptive cruise control that uses radar to keep a car at a set distance behind a vehicle in front, slowing down or speeding up as necessary. The Volvo S80 takes that one step further, using the radar to determine whether you are approaching a car too quickly. If you are, it will alert you to brake, or it will even slow the car itself. Go to the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By the Editors of Consumer Reports The Infiniti M35 retains its spot as the class leader in Consumer Reports’ recent tests of mid-luxury sedans. But the other big news is that two versions of the freshened Mercedes-Benz E-Class were close behind, with the new diesel-powered E320 BlueTec edging out its gasoline-powered twin, the E350. CR also tested the rear-wheel-drive base M35 as an update to the previously tested all-wheel-drive M35X, its 2007 Top Pick for luxury cars. Not only did this version score nearly the same as the M35X, but it’s one of the least-expensive cars in the category. The M35 is a well-rounded car that blends comfort, luxury and agility. It provides nimble handling and tenacious tire grip.