Thanks for the example. My "Pixar" reference was realated to Koolpc's comment about it looking "computer generated" and I also thought it had some kind of Disney Pixar (computer generated) movie look to it. While the "mid shot" is more natural, I do see now how you gained information, such as the detail on the bench at the top of the steps.
On "low contrast" consider the light tower. The top rails on the tower look "naturally black" in the "mid exposure". Now look at the HDR, they are much more gray.
Possibly if you compress the very dark end of the histogram, you can still get the detail on the bench, and have a dark tower rail.