Jeep will launch the new Meridian in the coming days – Ahead of that, we got a chance to test drive the SUV
Since its arrival in India, Jeep India sales have majorly been dependent upon just the Compass. Over the years, Compass has carved out a niche for itself. However, with Indian customers increasingly demanding 7-seats in their SUVs, Jeep has now finally brought in the much awaited Jeep Meridian.
Jeep Meridian What Exactly is It?
To put it simply, Meridian is a 7-seater iteration of the Compass. However, it isn’t as if Jeep just decided to slot in two additional seats in the name of a new product. Jeep claims that they have re-engineered the vehicle completely and has ensured that the addition of a third row, doesn’t mess with the SUV’s driving dynamics or its off-roading capabilities.
First look at the Meridian, and you would know that it is a Jeep, and is in-fact closely related to the Compass. A more pronounced Jeep Grille, Sleeker headlamps (when compared with Compass), and a dash of chrome, all help the Meridian to look different than the Compass, however the Jeep DNA is very clearly visible.
The increased length makes the car look long and powerful while its slick-looking 18-inch alloys add to its oomph quotient. While looks are subjective, we would like to say that the Meridian happens to be one of the best looking civilized off-roader in the Indian market.
Under the hood, Meridian shares its powertrain with the Compass. In fact, it uses the same 2 litre Multijet diesel motor which we have seen in some of the competitor models too. Power output figures stand at 170 PS and 350 Nm of max torque, which is same as that on the Compass.
Transmission options include a 6-speed MT and a 9-speed torque converter. Customers will have an option to choose the vehicle with a 4×2 configuration or a top-spec 4×4 setup. Manual Transmission is being offered only with the 4×2 option while the 4×4 comes with an AT as standard.
On the trim front, Jeep will be offering the Meridian in two trims, namely Limited and Limited (O). Later, we believe special editions like Night Eagle and Trail-Hawk should come-in for the Meridian too.
Jeep Meridian – Features
Meridian offers a host of creature comfort features, which includes auto-headlamps, driver seat height adjust, push-button start/stop, 10.2-inch semi digital instrument cluster, 10.1 inch touchscreen infotainment unit, powered mirrors, wireless charging, keyless-entry, panoramic sunroof, 360 degree camera, powered tailgate and much more!
Safety features include TPMS, ABS, EBD, ESC, Traction control, six airbags and an electronic parking brake. Cabin gets liberal use of high quality leather and soft-touch materials, all of which add on to Meridian’s premium quotient.
Jeep Meridian – How is the 3rd row space?
Second-row seats get a 60/40 split while the third row has a 50/50 split capability. Boot space with all 3-rows in use stands at 170 litres and goes up to 481 litres with the third row folded down.
While one of the major highlights of the Meridian is its third row of seats, however sadly they are best suited for pets or children under the age of 5. We don’t think that the third row seats have the capability to seat two full-grown adults, even for a 60 minute ride.
Jeep Meridian Test Drive
For the drive, we experienced both, 4×2 and 4×4 variants of the Meridian. Our drive started with a 4×2 unit which we drove for about 50 odd kilometres. The drive included a mix of city, high-way and light-off-roading. The route helped us understand and experience Meridian’s driving dynamics, which majorly are on point!
Steering is slightly on the heavier side, but provides brilliant feedback. Acceleration is adequate and the powertrain responds well, whenever you ask for some additional power. NVH levels are well contained, which helps to elevate the in-cabin experience.
Lower center of weight helps to curtail body-roll considerably. Interestingly, while you are seated on the driver’s seat, you don’t realize that you are driving a gigantic vehicle like the Meridian.
While most of the media drives end-up after an urban/semi-urban route, the Jeep India Team was just half-done. Post the 4×2, we were asked to switch to a 4×4 unit. And with the 4×4 unit, we were to experience the off-roading prowess of the Meridian.
The Meridian amazed us with its off-roading capability on a well-curated off-roading track. Meridian gets a 21.5 degree approach, 23.6 degree departure and a 23.1 degree breakover angle, all of which help it to take-over considerably difficult terrain with ease. Electronic features like hill-descent control further increases the confidence when you are behind the wheel.
The Jeep Meridian is an excellent Urban SUV with enormous off-roading capabilities. However, the third row of seats, which happens to be one of its key USPs, failed to impress us. It would be interesting to see if customers would want to pay a few additional lakhs for an extended boot over the Compass.
Pricing will play a key role in its sales performance but knowing Jeep, we will be surprised if they bring in aggressive pricing. When compared with its competition, the Meridian is easily one of the best SUVs when it comes to the unique combination of luxury and off-roading capability. Bookings of the Meridian will open up in May’22, with deliveries scheduled to commence in June’22.