I personally think reliability is to the eye of the beholder. Of course hard evidence is proven with statistical data, but nothing can replace a relationship you form with the vehicle. Obviously how well you maintain your vehicle plays a role, and aside from that statistics can be manipulated. There are obvious defects that plague every year, revision, and individual vehicle. Given that as a variable itself could throw the whole thing off. The reason Honda and Acura are so successful are due to the over-engineering of the power train of the vehicle. Not to mention the versatility of the individual components. Same thing with Volkswagen, engine’s are practically a straight swap with the vehicle aside from the motor mounts in both cases. You can take a MK-II Golf, and change components with an Audi 80, there are so many things that are backwards compatible with those companies in the early generations and still to this day that made it more profitable and gave the ability to put more detail and R&D into a vehicles components. Ford had made the mistake of completely designing vehicles on the whim such as the Contour. They created an entirely new platform, based marginally off the Taurus, and used new drive train components, and redesigned everything within the vehicle. Of course there would be hiccups. As you see Ford in the past decade especially had learned from the errors and is generating vehicles with its subdivisions with cross compatible parts, over engineered components, and cost effective sub component transferability. Originally Honda had this down due to the versatility of the hatchback front clip, all Civics, and early generation Accords. The entire front clip of the vehicles are virtually inter exchangeable. Almost all early Honda generated motors are transplantable, and use the same key components. Therefore keeping cost down, and allowing corrective engineering to play a role in a reliable product. Of course there are revisions and different designs that aren’t, this rule doesn’t mean you can take the car and transfer everything, but you understand the logic behind it. Once Ford’s recently retired COO ironed all the creases out of the processes there has been a better product.
Another thing is he says/ she says. People like to talk, and hype up what they own, you have a reason to be proud, its human nature. There are always amazing products by a company, and there is the lemon rule. There are factors that play into it, and most speculate as to the day a car was built and things like that. The fact is all components cannot be created equal. Things break, get fixed or tossed, it’s all a fact of like. I have been working Aircraft Maintenance for the past 3 years, if you think cars have problems, you should look into the history of an aircraft that’s 60 years old. Its just personal preference in the end, some things factor, but in the end it’s up to the rumors, gossip, and opinions.
My .02 cents.