Jeep has been present in India for a few years now. With Compass being the only mass-segment product in the Indian market, Jeep is now looking for ways to increase its stronghold in the Indian market. The iconic Amerian SUV maker will soon introduce the all-new seven-seater based on the Compass! Called the Meridian, it will be Jeep’s first three-row seat vehicle in the D-Segment. It is also the most affordable 7-seater that Jeep has ever made. We drove the all-new Meridian and spent a good amount of time with the car off the tarmac! You can read about the all-new Meridian or simply play the video below.
Jeep Meridian Is Intimidating
The all-new Jeep Meridian looks expensive. It looks like a scaled-down version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and we love the way it looks. The new Jeep Meridian comes with the iconic 7-slat grille that we get to see on all other Jeep models.
The headlamps are an extended version of the grille. We love the design of the headlamps and how they look integrated into the grille itself. Jeep offers all-LED projector lamps with integrated DRLs that add a unique identity to the vehicle. The projector lamps have the ability to illuminate up to 200 metres. But we did not drive the vehicle at night and cannot comment on the efficacy yet.
The Merdian gets some complicated-looking alloy wheels. The 17-inch alloy wheels have a dual-tone theme and do look great on the car. The 7-seater Merdian is much longer than the Compass. The black roof and D-pillars add a floating-roof effect to the vehicle.
Just like the sleek headlamps, we get sleek tail lamps in the rear. There are elements from the Compass in the tail lamps and they do look great. Jeep has used a lot of chrome on the Meridian. It adds a premium touch to the Merdian but it does not look overdone. The Merdian can easily tower over other vehicles on the roads. It has a very strong road presence and during our short drive on the tarmac among the other vehicles, we received a lot of stares. It can definitely intimidate the cars in front.
Let’s talk about space
Seven seats are the main USP of the new Meridian. It is the most affordable Jeep to offer seven seats. Looking at the popularity of the three-row vehicles rising in the country, Jeep Meridian is likely to get a lot of attention in the showrooms.
It gets an electronic tailgate that you can open simply by pressing the button. The boot space with all the seats up is decent and it can get some bags in. But if all the seven occupants are travelling together for a weekend drive, it can be a bit of a squeeze. But if you’re looking for a five-seater with massive boot space, you can simply drop down the third-row seats to create this massive luggage space. The seats fold down flat and will allow you to move apartments. You can even drop down the second-row seats to create space good enough to fit a motorcycle!
The most important addition to the Meridian over the Compass is the third-row seats. To enter the third row, you can tumble down the seats in the middle row. The 60:40 split middle seats can tumble down completely, which is great. But this feature doesn’t allow the seats to slide. This means you cannot adjust for the leg space in the last row. If you’re an adult, the last row is not the space you will prefer, especially on the long drives. The last row of passengers does get a few features like roof-mounted AC vents and cupholders. The large quarter glasses ensure you get a good view of the outside. The panoramic sunroof makes the cabin feel airy but the dark theme
If you are comparing the Meridian with the Fortuner, then it is not the right comparison. The Fortuner is much bigger in size.
The middle row seats have ample space for two passengers but a third passenger will be a hard squeeze. There’s ample knee room here and you get several additional features as well. We feel that if Jeep offered a sliding option in one of the seats in the middle row, it would have been a much more practical option. However, since it is based on the same architecture of the Compass, the middle row seats cannot be adjusted for space. You can only set the middle row seat in one since position.
Just like any other American SUV, the front two seats are the best place to spend time inside the Jeep Meridian. You get a long list of features and the dashboard is very similar to the Compass. You get a 10.1-inch screen with a host of wireless connectivity options.
What powers the Jeep Meridian?
Jeep will only offer the Merdian with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission. This is the first that we are getting to see this combination in a FWD vehicle. It generates a maximum power of 170 PS and peak torque of 350 Nm. However, Jeep has made a few tuning changes to make the engine suitable for the heavier Meridian.
There transmission has a wide range of gear ratios. It is a no-fuss transmission that upshifts and downshifts smoothly. But if you’re driving in traffic and trying to match up with the speed of other cars, you may find that the gearbox constantly shifts up and down. It becomes unpredictable. Jeep is yet to reveal the fuel efficiency of the Merdian but owning to the higher weight, it is certainly lower than the Compass.
Drivng on the tarmac
The Merdian definitely feels agile and the comfort is unmatchable in the segment. While we can compare it with the VW Tiguan AllSpace, the German car is not available in the Indian market. So the Meridian automatically becomes the best car for comfort in the segment. The suspension is tuned to ensure that there is minimal body roll and we loved driving it over broken road surfaces and smooth tarmac equally.
The Meridian remains planted on the roads. This is a car to munch miles on the highways and the engine remains very relaxed even at the cruising speed. The 9-speed transmission helps quite a lot here. The Meridian can do cross country runs very well.
Living the Jeep life
Like all other vehicles from the Jeep fraternity, the Meridian will also get 4X4 options. While there is no low-ratio transfer case like pure off-roading vehicles, there are electronics working to make this seven-seater go through the most challenging terrains. There is an option to keep the first gear engaged while doing off-roading to extract maximum out of the engine.
The new Meridian is unique in the segment because it gets a monocoque body and independent suspension. With additional features like various terrain modes, the Jeep Meridian can help you conquer any kind of surface. We took the new Meridian through a natural course in the jungle. The track we went through will make your heart sink at the first sight.
While I have done a fair amount of off-roading, I am not a season off-roading champion so I was relying on the car to get me through to the other end. We went through several difficult obstacles while making our way through the forest.
The Meridian has become longer than Compass yes, but approached inclines as steep as 32 degrees and drops of similar angles. The approach, breakover and departure angles of the Meridian are perfect and the underbelly did not bite the dust, not even once.
We also went over the steps and deep pits to test the independent suspension and they worked really well. The throttle response is accurate and you can only modulate the throttle to go over obstacles very smoothly. While the 9-speed transmission did work effortlessly to provide maximum available power and torque. We also conventionally checked the roll angle of the car where it was hanging out at an angle of over 30 degrees. Oh yes, we crossed a slush pit as well but the other obstacles made it look like a drive through the neighbourhood.
We kept the Meridian in 4X4 mode all the time and didn’t change the modes as we drove through. Notably, it was on Highway Terrain tyres which makes me think what it will be able to do with suitable rubber on those alloys. While the body-on-frame vehicles like the Toyota Fortuner can do similar obstacles, the Meridian did it while keeping us comfortable. I agree no family will go on such off-roading expeditions but it is good to know that the car will be able to handle the most difficult situations without breaking a sweat.
Long story short
After extensively driving the new Meridian, we can safely say that you can take it anywhere. It looks imposing on the roads but you may feel a little cramped when it comes to space. Jeep is yet to announce the pricing but we feel that it will get into the price range of the Fortuner. It is a capable vehicle especially if you want to explore places with your family! But all the success of the Jeep Meridian lies in its pricing. What do you think the pricing would be? Do let us know in the comments below.