I can't answer your question, so feel free to ignore me!
CR recently updated their sewing machine reviews. I think a cheaper machine did rate highly, but I believe it was a $300 Kenmore. If you just need it for the occasional mending or craft, that might be fine. But if you want to do some serious sewing (I'm not talking professional, just getting a workhorse), I personally would purchase a solid old machine at a yard sale or flea market and get it fixed up. Depending on what features you need, you could save a ton and get a much better machine. (And feel good about not buying something made entirely of plastic with a very short life expectancy.)