canon dslr does it have motor?
as stated, all canon lenses have a motor in the lens. not all nikons have a motor in the lens. some nikon lenses have motors, some do not (as you said, the older ones do not).
i have a nikon D90, it has a motor in the body. when i use a lens with a motor, the lens motor works. when i use a lens without a motor, the camera motor works.
every canon lens has a motor in the lens, no canon camera has a built-in motor as there is no need for one.
THAT BEING SAID, i would not look at the lack of a motor in the body as a limitation. nikon has introduced enough lens bodies with built in motors that you do not have to worry about compatibility with the old lenses. for instance, why are you shooting with a 35mm f/2.0D (no motor) lens when nikon now has a 35mm f/1.8 DX (with motor) which costs half the price of the older one?
so unless you are going to get into a very specific area of photography, or unless you already have lenses planned out that you want to get which do not feature a motor, it isn't really going to affect you.
although having the motor is nice. i have a 60mm f/2.8D macro lens. i got it for about $400 used. their new lens, the 60mm f/2.8 DX macro, which includes a motor, costs almost double that. having the motor in the body allows me to buy the cheaper older lens.
but this is only a rare and specific case. out of the 5 lenses i have, only one of them does not contain a motor. if you are going to get an 18-105 or an 18-55 or any 55-200, 70-300, etc. any BASIC lens, they will have the motor built in.
so i would not base your decision off that. there are plenty of other of things to base your decision on, specifically how the camera feels in your hands and your ability to control the camera. i suspect that the "dark" pictures you saw at the store were the result of some settings being changed on a display model camera that weren't changed back. i can set my camera up to take dark pictures if i wanted to, and if you didn't know how to reset it it will always take dark pictures.
in the long run canon is NOT a bad choice. neither is nikon. but the "motor in body" feature is not the most important factor in the decision.
for the record i do shoot with nikon now, but i shot with canon for 5 years. if i had to pick a better system.... i'd go with canon because it's cheaper in the long run. i also like their lenses better. but don't get me wrong, my D90 takes AMAZING photos and i'm not mad that i switched.