R2.8 Real World Experience


Well-known member
TL;DR: Tons of fun. Average of 22.8 mpg over 2,800 highway miles. Power to spare.

As a few people here know, Doug installed a Cummins into my 89 ROW 110 last year. He did loads of other work as well, including an R380 stumpy, a new harness, a Rovers North AC kit, a Webasto heater, etc. I picked it up last fall and a few days later drove it out to Arizona.

The trip out was filled with mishaps and wasn’t representative of the experience of the new engine, so I’ll set that aside.

In early April, I turned around and came back to NYC, and I thought people considering the swap might be interested in my experience.

We left Phoenix and drove to El Paso, Abilene, Shreveport, Birmingham, Charlotte, Yorktown and Cape May, then up to Manhattan. We drove all Interstate until our approach into Yorktown. Along the way we experienced 100+ temperatures in Arizona, NM and Texas, we got drenched with 0.8 inches of rain in 30 harrowing minutes during a tornado warning in Shreveport, we drove through beautiful 70-degree weather in MS, AL, Georgia and the Carolinas, we encountered fog across the Chesapeake, saw beautiful skies in Delaware and Cape May, and then drove home in NJ’s grey drizzle.

The R2.8 replaced a 19J, and while it ran well, it left a lot to be desired whenever I needed to enter a highway or parkway, or whenever I approached a hill. Even gentle hills, or, God forbid, an upward sloping on-ramp or one of those horrible Northeast merge-onto-the-highway-from-a stop-sign situations were all unsafe at best.

With the new engine, it’s like I’m driving a normal car. There is no issue accelerating onto a highway; there are no issues heading up hills. I passed cars going UP HILLs. Other than the floods in Shreveport, a traffic jam in Mississippi and stop-and-go in Atlanta, I was in fifth gear for 2,800 miles. I mostly drove between 65 and 70, even with 80mph limits in Texas; I didn’t feel like pushing things, and frankly that’s probably already a little faster than I want to be driving a 30-year old 110. Even at 70, a little additional right foot yielded a quick response, though, and this is all with the stock tune.

Operating temperatures ran between 178 in cold and wet NJ, to as high as 210 on a long upgrade in hot West Texas. From Abilene on, I’m not sure it ever got above 196. A small multi-function gauge replaces the stock temp gauge and shows RPMs, oil pressure, coolant temp and engine hours at the touch of a button (along with any fault codes you happen to throw, as I learned).

I have a winch, a Front Runner full length rack, 235/85 KO2s, and I had a pretty solidly packed cargo area. The R380 has the stock gearing. For the whole trip, I averaged 22.8mpg. I averaged about 25mpg all the way across Texas, much of which had the AC running at least periodically. I was doing about 65mph there; further east with more traffic, I was keeping up at 70 or so. From LA on, I averaged 21.9. Before the swap and the winch, the unladen 19J was doing 20mpg, and of course it had no AC.

Overall, the new engine has completely transformed the experience of driving my 110. Sure, the carpet in the second row was still soaked after Shreveport. Of course it’s still loud (especially since I prefer the windows to the A/C). I need some work on my shifter, as reverse is often difficult, and it doesn’t like to slide into 4th when coming out of 5th. No crunching sounds, just not moving into gears correctly. And there’s some auxiliary wiring that I need to have cleaned up.

But it’s like a completely different vehicle. It’s an awesome improvement. I know it’s not built for US highways, but it is WAY more fun and way less worrying to drive on the highways now. And my long-suffering wife didn’t complain once!


Well-known member
Good timing to read this for me as I just parked my 110 into my freshly cleaned garage bay so I can start taking apart the front end in preparation for the R2.8 and long BH R380 gearbox that have been in the garage for almost a year now.

Sounds like the R2.8 is a good match for the 110. Not as powerful as the LS but yields more MPG and has enough torque to get a heavy 110 moving. Thanks for the complete write up :thumbs:


Technical Excellence Contributor
The transmission issue for shifting is just an adjustment to the transmission shifter location. Do a quick search, but if you can't find it, I will pull up my notes and tell you how to adjust if you have not already done so. Just need to remove the boot, basically.


Technical Excellence Contributor
Found it anyways. For posterity (from Dave Ashcroft):



Well-known member
Sounds like a great way to keep the small diesel Rover feel, but with modern drivability. I wonder about durability though. Pics of the trip would be great. That's quite the inaugural run.


NAS-ROW Addict
Congrats on the "new" 110. Sounds like it's a great powerplant for a hefty 110. Pat on the back to Uncle Doug for all the hard work he's put into these conversions.


Staff member
Local garage has done several Cummins conversions. If anybody wants a turn key conversion feel free to message me and I can put you in touch with them. They also do LS and Rover diesel conversions.


Well-known member
If durability is anything like the standard tdi engines it should be great.
I know it's like a "paid advertisement" but the Four Wheeler magazine guys have used R2.8's a lot in their builds for UA. Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle drove one under water, on water and then on UA last summer.


Well-known member
I'm no photo journalist, but I have a number of pictures my phone. Having recently read/seen the Border to Border thread, a trip report that was mostly interstate and zero dirt road didn't seem worthy. And it isn't clear if the photo request was of my engine or of the trip. Nevertheless, a few snaps from the trip.

Dragoon, AZ. It's not as wild as it looks...it's a rest stop on I-10.
01 Dragoon.jpg

The morning sky east of El Paso
02 East of El Paso.JPG

West of Pecos, things look pretty much the same coming and going.
05 West of Pecos.JPG

There was not much to look at around Odessa and Midland - dust storms and trash lining the highway. Later, as we headed east from Abilene, the blue bonnets on the side of the road were lovely. In the "what have you done to your Defender" thread, I come clean on running out of diesel. You can see the blue bonnets there.

This, however, is the welcome Shreveport offered just before it tried to kill us. Phones were buzzing with tornado watches at this point, but within a few minutes, that changed to a warning and then the heavens opened. You all know how useful the wipers and windshield defogger are situations like that.
06 Shreveport.jpg

We actually had great weather leaving Shreveport and a bit later crossed the Mighty Mississippi.
07 Crossing Mississippi.JPG

Driving through Mississippi and then Alabama was great. Beautiful weather and nice roads. There was less traffic here than in Texas.
08 Near Pelahatchie MS.JPG

09 Near York AL.JPG

We filled up in Blacksburg, SC and were treated to a gorgeous sky, before hopping back on 85 for the drive into NC.
12 Blacksburg SC2.JPG

11 Blacksburg SC.JPG

The cinema near the hotel in Belmont, NC was sporting a sign of the times.
13 Belmont NC2.jpg


Well-known member
We left Yorktown and drove over and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. The fog in Cape Charles was pretty dense.
14 Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel.JPG

But when it burned off, we were treated to some beautiful countryside.
15 Cape Charles.JPG

We took the Lewes ferry across to Cape May. We'd never been before. We were lucky to have great weather when we arrived (and fortunate to have the beach mostly to ourselves, since it's hardly the season).
16 Cape May 1.JPG

17 Cape May 2.JPG

The next morning, Clementine was ready for the final run up to NYC.
18 Cape May 3.JPG

The Garden State Parkway reminded me of years living in Seattle and London: grey drizzle.

19 Garden State Parkway near Sea Isle.JPG

Home again. I was happy that I thought ahead and left glasses in the freezer!


Founding Member
Callsign: KN4JHI
Sounds like a great way to keep the small diesel Rover feel, but with modern drivability. I wonder about durability though. Pics of the trip would be great. That's quite the inaugural run.
I think the two biggest issues are the fact that it is a modern drive by wire engine and the plastic cooling system components. Hopefully the aftermarket will take care of the plastic cooling system components.

chris snell

Callsign: NW5W
Staff member
Awesome pics, although I’m sorry that you drove through my home state on I-10 and I-20 instead of pretty backroads like US-90 and TX-46.


Well-known member
I’m sorry that you drove through my home state on I-10 and I-20 instead of pretty backroads like US-90 and TX-46.
I should have asked around. The fact is, though, I'm no mechanic and only a week earlier (for non-Cummins-related reasons) having it shipped back was a strong possibility. So the comfort of being on an Interstate was a factor.


Well-known member
Thanks for posting. It would be great if more folks had the time and inclination to post their experiences. I can’t help to imagine that a country like the US is a tough place to get all Likes with 4cyl diesel swaps given most of us probably grew up driving V8’s. When I swapped from an NA to a 200 the biggest change that moved the quality of life meter for me was the power steering mod we did at the same time. There was no real measurable change in around town driving IME. Highway and long distance driving the 200 is just as loud but it holds 70mph comfortably; whereas the NA’s comfort levels peaked at 55. Overall I’m glad I did it because I like how driving a diesel is a different experience. From my personal experience it’s not an ideal set up for commuting with lots of stop/go requirements or for long trips at higher speeds.


Well-known member
Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great adventure and a huge upgrade. I am getting ready for my 19J to R2.8 upgrade. I have yet to drive my D90 on the highway....or freeway - but I absolutely love driving it....it just takes a bit longer to get there via surface streets. I look forward to the longer drives to our hunting/hiking adventure locations once the upgrade is completed! I have other vehicles that are high performance or very capable 4x4...but there is something analog and engaging about my Land Rover. I work in IT during the day....but I love non technical outlets - whether its knife making, leather work or archery.....there is something about FEEL. I totally agree about preference of windows down to AC!