Samsung and Sony are kings of LCD for image quality. You have to get into their better lineup to really get the best image quality they offer with minimal false contouring (banding/poterization).
Plasmas WILL be best, but you stated you don't want 42". I would still push you towards that as that will be the best image, and 32" at 16:9 is actually shorter in height than your old 27" CRT. If your CRT was non-HD, then I'm sure you would notice the scan lines. No pixels in a CRT. Going to a 42" only adds 4" of height compared to a 27" CRT. Not exactly a huge jump in size really, and at that viewing distance, very appropriate and MANY more options.
Another big issue will be having many 32" options which are 1080p. That really starts with the 40" LED/LCD models.
I would go with this: Amazon.com: Panasonic VIERA TC-L42ET5 42-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D Full HD IPS LED-LCD TV with 4 Pairs of Polarized 3D Glasses: Electronics
Amazon.com: Samsung UN40EH6000 40-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV (Black): Electronics
Amazon.com: Samsung UN32EH5000 32-Inch 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black): Electronics
I would not go with Sharp, which I think doens't have as good of an image. LG may have some decent image deliveries, but their product is far to poorly built for me to ever recommend them. You do have some 32" choices, but they are generally 'cheap' as that is what the 32" class is all about. Guest bedrooms, not family rooms unfortunately.