Within the "Touring Bike" category there is very little difference between competing makes. The Surly LHT, Trek 520, etc., etc. all have very similar geometry, wheelbase, and so forth. What will vary are the component choices, material of construction (steel, aluminum, Ti but almost never carbon), weight and, of course, cost.
Despite much agonizing over labels and names, I expect that if several of the competing brands were ridden without labels but otherwise set up identically, tests ride would have you say you could feel absolutely no difference.
PeteJacks' experience is typical. Given a frame size anywhere near right for your height and leg length, the fit and rider position can be adjusted within fairly wide limits by the choice of bars, stems and seatpost height and those are far more important than which name is on the frame and fork. Old Guy New Hobby's experience is undoubtedly due to factors other than frame and fork design if what he tested was truly a "touring bike".