I was reading Essentials of classic Italian cooking by Marcella Hazan where I noticed she first pours a lot of olive oil to "protect the salad" from the vinegar as it prevents the acid from doing its "cooking". So, that is one unproven benefit I know of.
I am also interested in taste differences. If it tastes about the same I would much rather not spend all that time making a vinaigrette. The consistency of the liquid would obviously be different - does that give a different mouthfeel perhaps?
Any experienced salad makers here with some insights?