Hmmm, not sure I agree with all of what is said here. The term "hybrid" is really more or less useless these days. It originally meant the kind of thing Marin pioneered in the early 1990s (and can still buy today) basically using the then new-fangled MTB gears and group sets with a more road like frame and wheels - good all round bikes that were sturdy, useful but still fairly light. Since then this term has mutated and basically now means anything that isn't a mountain bike and anything that isn't a race bike. I've seen it applied from everything from flat bar road bikes to continental style city bikes almost as clunky (but very comfortable) as American cruisers. It most defintely does not mean something "upright" necessarily.
As a rough guide, I'd recommend you keep towards the lighter, faster end of the spectrum unless you have a particular need for a really upright bike with large, cushioning tyres (for example back issues).
Look for a frame with attachments for mud-guards and panniers, this vastly increases the usefulness for day-to-day riding. Aim for tyres in the 28-35 range. Avoid suspension for on-road use, it doen't really help, is heavy and makes your bike handle badly. Basically this ends up more or less like a classic English touring bike with flat handle bars, which indeed would make a fine alternative. This was the kind of bike people rode for decades as a "do it all" bike with good reason.
The reason hybrids often get a bad rap is cheap components, particularly nasty wheels and tires that slow things down. Many are/were simply MTBs with road tyres.
I ride a Marin Sausalito and it's kind of evolved over the last decade to suit my needs. I ditched the suspension at the front (an expensive mistake) and fitted better, lighter tyres (panaracer pasela 28c instead of nobrand 35c). The stem is lower and longer than before making the seat and bars about level. I fitted a Brooks B17N saddle for comfort (saddles on hybrids from the shop are usually terrible) and SPD pedals - Shimano A520 for comfort and efficiency. I also have mudguards and a rack
I reckon, in neutral, flat conditions I lose maybe 2mph to a road bike, that's all, obviously more when climbing.
A good place to start is the Specialized Sirrus range, which is popular and highly rated on the old C+ forums.