Recently got the first new bike I've had since I was a kid - a Giant Cypress DX. 24-speed, twist shifters. Got it on sale as last year's model for $440. So far I've been really happy with it. Includes 30, 60 & 90 day adjustments on the bike.
The other bike I was looking at was a Cannondale - I believe one of the Adventure models. Other than the Cannondale being a little lighter, what seemed to be the biggest difference is the tool-free quick-adjust stem on the Cannondale. Intriguing but I couldn't see spending another $110 for a feature that it wasn't clear I'd really use that much.
Within the hybrid realm what would be quantifiably better on a more expensive bike than my Giant?