My fiancee and I are both considering getting bikes in the next month or so, an I'm kind of a stickler for research before I jump in. I'm a 350+ guy and my fiancee is 250+ and we both would like to start riding. I will be commuting on mine (less than a mile each way) and we will both be riding together otherwise. We have two LBS in the area, one is a raleigh dealer and the other specialized/trek. We are looking at three bikes currently.
Trek Navigator 1.0
Raleigh Route 4.5
All at around the $350-$400 price point.
My fiancee really likes the wider tires on the navigator (the only one we have actually ridden.) but I was looking for some other peoples input as well. We will mostly be riding casually though we would both like to get into better physical shape. The LBS does group rides weekly (15m) that we might also be interested in.
The Raleigh dealer is about 6 blocks from our home and along my commute so it is a big plus, but he keeps very little inventory as it is a small shop.
I've personally avoided anything with a suspension as I tried out a Trek 7100 and pretty well crushed the forward suspension. But I'm open to pretty much all suggestions.
(edit) At least currently we are both much more comfortable with the upright positioning on hybrids, though we may look into other bikes once we are in better shape.