>I was surprised to find the 24-85mm kit lens very good >indeed.... Agreed. Reminds me of the DX optimized 16-85 mm 3.5/4.5 VR. Sharp and little "falloff" in the corners. Nice color rendition. Seems to "like" f5.6 to f8, OK to f11.
When I decided to get the D600, I had only three FX lenses, 50mm, 60mm micro, and the 70-300 VR. All well and good, but knew I would want something to cover the wide end. The 24-85 was the obvious "budget" choice, and a decent walk-around range.
I have not put it through it's paces enough to give a confident personal evaluation, but most of the online chatter gives it reviews similar to other Nikon kit lenses--good, but not stellar, performance when compared to obviously less-compromised "pro" lenses. In other words, you'll get good images within the limitations of a little less speed (light gathering), isolation, and corner sharpness.
The copy I have is actually very good... Even in the corners. I had been going to buy the24-120 PRO lens but after testing I didn't find enough difference to justify the extra $700. My copy is quite good at the corners.
Ism fairly critical of optics as O have used Leicas for years. The D600 and 24-85mm does not disappoint.
Nikon kit lenses are optically excellent and you will save about $170.00 or so if you buy the lens with the camera. If it fits your requirements, get the camera with the kit lens. The 24-120mm f/4 is about twice the price and the 24-70mm is more than three times the price. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
I used one a few weeks ago at a wedding and have to say I was rather impressed with it as this little lens offers a lot of bang for the buck. It was small, light, and if you have decent software (Lightroom, Capture NX2, etc) the distortions were not an issue to fix.
I use the 24-85 D600 "kit lens" on my D800 and I am happy with the results for general shooting situations. I had the 24-120 f/4 for a while to compare and image quality wise I thought the 24-85 more than held its own.
As an alternate, while the flexibility of a zoom is nice you could consider two primes from the same focal range 28/50/85.