I remember going through this same thinking process. My old camera had died, and I put together a specification of what I wanted in a replacement, and then built a matrix comparing that specification with the specifications of available 35mm SLR's.
I chose the Nikon FM2. Yes it was expensive, but it was worth the difference over lower priced alternatives. I just returned this morning from a trip to California in which I shot about 10 rolls of 35mm film in that camera - that brings my total through it to something well in excess of 1000 rolls. And it continues to work just as well as the day I bought it - 25 years ago.