In my experience American Fenders have three piece bodies too, at Standard level.
Generally I think that Fender has good quality on both American, Mexican and Japanese made instruments. Both strung with 11-50s because I switch b&f from acoustic quite a bit.
I wouldn't trade my 2008 MIM Strat for a Custom Shop rig. To my ears, has more of a classic sound/tone than the newer U. And, why would you take a Strat and swap out pups, electronics? Poplar is a crappy wood for guitar, and maybe I even got a bad set of poplar, even worse with being 5 or more pieces.
The Frets were worn quite fast also, so the percentage of nickel should be quite low.
The Highway-1 series Strats (basically an American-assembled MIM with 70's styling and a few other tricks) did a little of this (my H-1 has Greasebucket tone circuits which reduce the boominess you get when you roll off the tone), but usually when you buy an American Standard Strat you are getting exactly that.