I wonder if part of the reason for the disparity in experiences is simply statistics. Let's say, just for argument's sake, that NOA is 99% reliable. That sounds high. And certainly, that might be good enough for Tesla to release as a L2 system that requires driver attention. But with a large fleet driving all over the US, there are going to be plenty of folks who say NOA is great but 99% will still leave plenty of folks who will have bad experiences sometimes too.
There may be some objective differences in how NOA and AP behave from car-to-car, region-to-region and just statistical blips, but I also suspect a significant portion of the different "experience" is subjective and depends more on the driver's expectations and reactions than differences in how NOA actually behaves.
For example, I use NOA much more than my wife does mostly because she gets impatient that it doesn't pass quickly/aggressively enough even in Mad Max mode. I'm usually a fairly "spirited" driver myself but with NOA on I am fine with a more relaxed approach and don't mind that it makes different decisions than I would.
On the other hand, when I'm a passenger and my wife is zipping in and out of traffic, I often wish she would turn on NOA.