Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought an 08' Trek 7500 hybrid yesterday for $730 (actually two, one for me and one for my wife).
The bike I replaced was a Trek 830 mountain bike from 1994 which has only seen moderate use. My wife and I wanted to start riding some more and we wanted one bike that could handle rail trails, bike paths, and roadways (but be road biased). Although the 830 was nice enough, it never seemed very comfortable and the overall geometry for roads was too much of a compromise.
This was a difficult decision. I was initially inclined to go with the Trek 7.5 FX which was about the same price. However, I was not convinced it could really handle dirt paths and rail trails as well as the 7500. The 7500 was redesigned in 08' and includes the same wheels as the 7.5 FX and a lighter integrated front shock. I also like the 50mm rise on the handlebars, seatpost suspension, more comfortable seat, and quality components. Sure the FX series is lighter, but the weight difference would be minimal if I decided to add the more comfortable seat, adjustable seatpost, adjustable handlebars, etc....after the purchase (plus it would have cost me more).
Anyway, I really think this bike is a much more practical setup for our needs. I look forward to checking out this forum periodically.
---Don't you think there should be a dedicated hybrid section on this forum???---