Read an article on CNN about the latest J.D. Power's vehicle reliability survey. Apparently the American manufacturers are catching up, but "perception lags reality," which may be one of the bigger understatments of the article.
An interesting footnote is that Mercedes ranks fairly low on the survey, behind most of the Chrysler brands that form the other half of the company. This meshes fairly well with my dad's anecdotes, where he says that Mercedes owners always talk about how great their cars are, but for some reason their cars are always in the shop for something or other.
On the other hand, my Honda motorcycle, which develops about as much power-per-liter as a NASCAR stock car, has never given me any problems other than a dead battery. And all I do is change the oil. That's why when my buddy Dave told me about BMW's new motorcycle, I said it looked nice, but I just don't think I can give up my Honda habit.