taking only the pure IQ there's not as much difference between the lenses in the current nikon lineup as one might think of. if You know Your equipment You'll be able to take extremely technically correct snaps even from the cheapest lenses, the thing is that in order to get max from the cheap lenses You need to stopped it down to f8, also the overall speed ain't gonna be that good.
other thing are the gold rant lenses in nikon lineup, they are created towards professional use (please keep in mind that I didn't say they are created for professionals). the "professional" touch in those lenses equals tougher resistance towards elements including better weather sealing, metal instead of plastic bayonet also faster f-stop.
@roombarobot "Assuming" that you are looking at a D3200 (and you reference it in your post), Adamz is spot on. Most of the Nikon lenses will produce good to excellent results.
The kind of results you _want_ and the _way_ you want to work may not be exactly what you expect or desire.
I think the D3200 doesn't have an internal motor for all lenses, which won't matter if your lenses have motors for auto focusing, but something you ought to know about.
As TTJ mentioned, zoom lenses _can_ change their maximum f-stop as they change their focal length. That can be a drag; it also changes some of the automatic functions of shutter/aperture, etc., of the camera in usage. Constant f-stop throughout the focal length of a given zoom lenses generally means that it is a more expensive lens. Wider apertures mean something, too.
That's why prime lenses with larger apertures are sought by professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bokeh, or the _quality_ of the out of focus background and/or foreground delineating the subject is something that large apertures in the f1.8/f1.4 range give so well. That bokeh comes from the aperture, generally, wider is better, and undeniably, you start from the widest setting and go from there. If you start at f5.6, you don't have far to go.
The review you pointed to in DCPreview refers to the 18-55mm stock lens. I don't think the lens is that bad, for what it is, a very, very inexpensive lens that makes nice photos.