Pete, thanks for the thorough response (I almost missed it!)
I used to hike a lot and was always satisfied with the pretty generic jackets I could find from brands like Mountain Hardwear at places like Winners. As long as it fit okay, shed water well, and had pit zips, I was happy with it. It turns out the demands are way higher on a bike. More wind chill, more body heat, more dynamic movement. And more wetness in the same weather.
I just have to adapt my mindset. Not the same activity, not the same gear, and no reason it should cost the same.
The frugality in me says it's next winter's problem, I've already made it through December and half of January in a PVC jacket!