Upgrading Hyper-V 2008 R2 Core to 2012 R2

I’m trying to upgrade a Hyper-V 2008 R2 core to 2012 R2 Core since I know there’s not a direct path to 2016. I’ve downloaded an .ISO file from MS that I believe is the Core version of 2012 R2. During the setup process, I elect to upgrade instead of the custom
solution which I believe will install a fresh copy of the product. I then get a message that informs me that I can’t upgrade the version I’m running which again is the Core version. 

My question is if I decide to install a fresh instance of 2012 R2 core (or 2016 at that matter), can I (manually) restore my VMs in the newer version? Other than backing up the VHDs and XML files, is there anything else I need to successfully restore them?
Would using the import process work in this case once the new version is up and running? Or worse case, could I make note of the key VMs settings and rebuild the VM with the same settings and point to the existing VHD from 2008 R2?

The environment that I’m working with is not a production environment but there are some VMs that I don’t want to rebuild from scratch. All of my VMs are located on the D drive which is different from the installation drive. 

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

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