Not really, that is its rightful place, after the subject/object of the contrasting clause. Think of it as "on the other hand".
The apple is here, the car, on the other hand, is there.
You can use either "meg" or "pedig" in this situation, it will mean exactly the same thing. (99.999%)
And, you see, using "on the other hand", the need for "and" goes away.
You are right, meg is often a perfect equivalent of és.
The only time they're not completely interchangeable is when they act as a conjunction between two clauses.
"Elmentem a boltba, és vettem egy üveg bort." ("I went to the shop and bought a bottle of wine.") -- there's no contrast here, meg wouldn't be correct.
"Én dolgozom, te meg alszol." ("I'm working, and you are sleeping.") -- there's contrast between the two clauses, so meg and pedig can be used. "... és te alszol" is still correct, it simply doesn't emphasize the contrast.
According to Wikipedia there's a very slight difference in the position of the tongue compared to English "L", so maybe that's what you hear (though, honestly, I totally can't hear the difference between the two sounds). I believe it's perfectly fine to pronounce "L" as you would in English, I doubt anyone would recognize.
I wrote and got wrong: "The apple is here, the car is there" I needed the word "and". It doesn't appear to be in the Hungarian sentence.
"outside" is "kint", not "ott".
"oda" is there, but it involves movement, so if i want to split hairs for the sake of clarity then rather "to there". "ide" is similarly "to here".
"Go here" / "Go there". - "Menj ide" / "Menj oda".
Without movement, "itt" is "here", and "ott" is "there". "I am here" / "I am there" - "Itt vagyok" / "Ott vagyok"