I must preface by saying I have very little experience with sewing machines. That being said, I have a Viking Emerald 118, which is a really wonderful little workhorse of a machine (and the only machine I have). It has decent throat space, sews beautifully, and it is not particularly finicky. It manages a variety of threads and needles without giving me grief and generally runs like a top. I do an annual service on it, and as of yet, have had no other issues with it (knock on wood!). I understand the company was sold and the products are now made in China so I don't know about the newer models. This one is about 4 or 5 years old. For what it is worth my MIL, who is a die-hard quilter, swears by her Janome.
PS I use mine for both piecing and FMQ.