It sounds like you might want too much out of the box or at least a higher degree of simplicity or usability than most stuff will provide. Usability is a holy grail that most folks frankly don't feel like shelling out for so it remains all shiny and out of reach. Should it? No, of course not. I just don't think that the performance that you're demanding matches the complexity that you want. You'll have to eat fast, cheap, or good.
Plugins are a thing now, for good or ill. Trying to avoid plugins will probably result in hair loss. (I personally think this is a happy thing most of the time. Who wants to brew widget after widget in house for no real gain?)
I agree that a full version of WordPress sounds like the better solution in terms of bus accidents. That said I was rather horrified a little while ago when I got roped into tossing together a quicky site. They definitely seem to have taken 9 steps back in usability and installed all kinds of paywalls that never used to exist with the basic cheap jerk on a shoestring free hosted package. (Really? I have to pay to insert a table. No collapsible links without monay? Pfffft.) I can definitely vouch that elderly folks are completely mystified by the new dashboard and continue to pass the maintenance hot potatoe back to me. Themes are still ludicrously simple to find, swap, and install. This is great for folks that just want a new look every so often.
I really liked the whole weighting concept to Drupal. Yes Drupal is overly complex, but it yields granularity that other stuff just doesn't have. More complexity was baked into Drupal than WordPress.