I've had a VitaMix for most of my married life. My in-laws offered us the choice of said blender or a karaoke machine for Christmas, and I've been happy with our choice ever since :) It really is one of my most prized possessions... I even grabbed my blender alongside precious family photos during a fire evacuation in CA. It's my other baby, and I use it all the time. I make sure to bring it to any class I teach; it gets the job done!
Now, if you're in the market for a high-end blender, I would definitely recommend a VitaMix or the Blendtec. Check out the reviews at Got Greens? and Blend Happy for a side-by-side comparison. I prefer the VitaMix because it's straight forward. I can control my blending with the flip of a switch, or the turn of a dial. I don't care for high-tech buttons or display screens, or preset blending options. And I like using the tamper for making frozen yogurt. Besides, VitaMix has been around longer (since the 1940's). It's a solid, well built machine. It's also the machine used by Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Food Network's Iron Chef. And it's the machine for me :)
If you're serious about raw/wholefood blending, then you need a serious blender. Otherwise you'll find yourself forever chopping, peeling, coring and hulling. And you'll probably have issues with leaking, overheating, not-so-smooth smoothies, etc. You'd be better off putting your money toward something that'll really blend. Your health, and the health of your family, is definitely worth it. *B