Not sure if you are looking for a total new ride or just new components?
I have been mtn biking since late 80s. The stuff available over the last few years is much better then years past, with the exception of the shimano multi trigger cap (brake/shifter).
I ride a Blur with mostly XTR. My wife is on a Yeti Kokopelli. Santa Cruz blurs changed the market entirely when they came out and still today have the best technology. Pretty much the rest of the industry had to change fast to compete. Elsworth is probably the number two. Highend yeti is made here in Colorado, mid to lower is made in Tailand with many others..Specialized is expensive.
Anyway, my advice would be to get on the phone to all the ski shops at the ski resorts...They rent brand new full suspension bikes in the summer with decent components and let them go for half price in the fall. In some cases they have only been in use a handful of times over the summer.
Christy's at WP, breck, Vail...will have a good selection. They all have disc.
Full suspension is the difference between getting your butt kicked by a goup of thugs vs being superman and walking through a volanco eruption....It is that much different of a feel during and after the ride is over..
Since you are not going to do drops, you can stick with a xcountry type build best for climbing, stay around 23-27 pounds, anythig over that. I prefer the VPP suspension technology vs the others becasue it is the best for minimal movement while climbing. But all have imporved over the years.