1) HDR mode is available if you "must have" that DR
This is simply wrong, if something moves (and in nature, most things do) hdr won't work, you can blend a hdr with some non-hdr parts but this is a pita. I often have to do ~1-1.5ev bracketing with my 60d when shooting outdoors at noon, so there's not that much dr missing, but there you are.
I'd wager to say I'm good at exposing properly (ettr and recovering highlights in post) - but often it's simply the choice between very minor shadow data or blown highlights. Esp. with reflections you quickly get a speckled look, recovery helps at the expense of highlight rolloff, but some more dr would further eliminate the problem and also help cut postprocessing time.