"Cycling Plus" in the UK publishes test reports each month that are very detailed and honest. A local library is likely to have back issues for 2004 and 2005 that can guide you as to their "picks" in each price class. You have MANY brands in the UK that are not sold in the USA, so "Cycling Plus" is a good resource.
But, as a point of reference. Trek bikes are usually "good value" in each price class. If you want to see what a typical "high quality" bike has to offer at a given price point, it is worthwhile to spend a couple of hours visiting a few Trek dealers. Then, when you look at bikes from brand "G", "S", or "R", you have a fairly good idea of what features and components your budget ought to buy.
At the "entry level" and "moderate" price points, the quality of the dealer is more important than the name on the bike. If there is a bike shop in your neighborhood that will give you high quality service before and after your purchase, THEIR brand ought to be high on your list.