You answered your own question when you said you couldn't get your foot to lift high enough to do some of the sewing. You need a machine with at least 1/2" of lift to do most auto upholstery. None of the machines you mentioned will lift that high.
If you want to do it right, you need an industrial, single needle, lockstitch, compound feed, (combination of needle feed and drop feed which employs feed dogs) walking foot(alternating presser feet)sewing machine. You will fight to sew most auto upholstery with anything else. If you buy one, you will always get your money back out of it. That can't be said for the glorified home machines you're looking at.
No, you don't absolutely have to have reverse, but if you ever use a machine with reverse you won't want to go back, and it makes the machine more attractive to potential buyers.
No one lives forever, the trick is creating something that will.