Why is Civil 3D so different?

The question often carries the implication that Civil 3D is too different from existing legacy CAD software (Land Desktop).

Software is only a tool. No more, no less.

We do love our familiar tools! They make us feel skilled. Our skill plus the tools produce the work we get paid for. This is a powerful emotional and financial feedback loop. This both good news bad news. Our known kinethetic skill makes us productive today and more resistant to new kinethetic skills.
Over a decade ago we coined the term, "The Competency Effect" to describe it.
Modern scientific study backs this up.

Simply put, Civil 3D has different PATTERNS than Land Desktop.

Civil 3D is different from LDT because it is a faster, easier, and fundamentally a better civil engineering tool than Land Desktop. To accomplish that, Civil 3D MUST be different. How is does it really doesn't matter all that much but the significant difference is what is called the Dynamic Model.

"Civil 3D is model building and LDT is about drawings - It is paper pushing."

In LDT nothing "talks" to anything else and you must repeat processes continually to update, check, and validate your work. At some point you decide enough is enough. Then you produce sheet drawings you must manually redline, edit, and push out the door. Lots of people spend lots of man-hours editing linework and annotation in LDT to get it "right". How many niffty macros and lisp tools do you have to help you do your job?

Civil 3D produces the line work, annotation, and even the plotted sheets as a by product of the model building process.
Model building is a set of parallel processes not a set of linear processes that LDT and ACAD employ.
The new skill and experience you need to do work in parallel sucessfully is how to add, edit, slice, dice, and manage that model.

These are new PATTERNS for users to learn.

A good set of templates with suitable Styles does the output work for you and should help you also perform quality assurance while you work.
What things look like shouldn't be the issue.

Good design should be.

Software tools can make the process of Civil Engineering design and documentation easier, faster, and simpler.

Civil Engineering is not simple or particularly easy. Thank goodness. We get paid for it.