OP, sorry to hear about all the mess.
Reminds me of my Audi B6 A4 1.8TQ after year 5. Couldn't wait to return that car at the end of the lease; even though the buyout amount was dropping by a few $1k every 1-2 months.
My Merc C300 4M was very reliable for 3 years and the most institutional driving experience. So I decided on BMW after returning the car.
Currently 1.5 years in, but the car suffered over $36k in damages following an accident so I don't feel extremely safe in the car with the family or during long road trips. When the timing is right, the car is going to be traded in although initially I had intentions to keep that car for 6-7 year.
Organized crime is alive and well: It's called auto insurance