The Jeep Meridian aims to offer consumers the choice of 7-seats, how good is it on and off-road, we intend on finding out.
1. First Jeep product to offer 3 row seating
2. Feature loaded interior
3. 9-speed automatic transmission
4. Proven off-road capability
1. Limited change in exterior & interior design
2. Lack of leg room in the third row
3. Under powered engine
4. Average comfort level
Considering a new 7-seater premium SUV with potent on and off-road capability. Which is the first model name that comes to your mind? The Ford Endeavour, sadly it has been discontinued in India. The other options available currently are the Toyota Fortuner and the MG Gloster. But a new competitor is about to enter the premium SUV ring, in the highly anticipated Meridian by Jeep India. People in the know are already aware of what this premium offering is going to be in terms of features and equipment. But the most crucial aspect that we are going to be talking about is how the vehicle performs both on and off road. Can it be a contender as your next new car purchase, let us find out?
Jeep Meridian Exterior Design
Its design details are not kept secret, we have already mentioned them via a number of our news articles. That said, we shall briefly encapsulate all essential details for you right here. From the front, the SUV features a similar face like the Jeep Compass Facelift with the signature 7-slat chrome finished grille. Further, the muscular bumper and LED headlamp clusters help add character to the front profile. Moving to the sides, we can witness a new set of 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels featuring painted gloss black elements and squared off wheel arches with plastic cladding. Considering its length which stands at 4,769 mm, the vehicle looks quite large in size. The rear door offers a 80-degree opening for better ingress and egress of passengers. That said, the access to the third row is narrow and takes some work to get in and out. Rest measuring 1,859 mm, the vehicle appears decently wide with a height of 1,698mm and a wheelbase of 2,782mm. Towards the rear, we get to see a new electronic tailgate with an all new LED tail lamp design, roof mounted spoiler, and bumper finished in black plastic. Chrome highlights further add premium quotient to the vehicle.
Jeep Meridian Interior
Step inside and a familiar cabin greets its occupants. This is because the equipment and dashboard layout is a straight lift from the Jeep Compass Facelift. But do take note that there are a couple of changes in comparison to the 5-seater SUV. And these include a new theme for the upholstery that now comes finished in black and Emperador brown colour alongside a new suede texture for the dash. As far as the equipment list is concerned, Jeep India has left no stone unturned in equipping the Meridian with features like a 10.1-inch floating touchscreen, 10.25-inch TFT instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, wireless charging, wireless smartphone connectivity, automatic rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, a 360-degree camera, panoramic sunroof, four terrain modes namely Sand, Snow, Mud & Auto, 8-way electrically adjustable driver seat, ventilated front seats among others.
With all of these out of the way let us dive right into comfort. Since the majority of us spend a lot of our time traveling, the seat comfort isn’t the best as compared to competition. The front row provides decent cushioning but the lumber support is a tad bit hard. Speaking of ventilation, it is only available in lumber support. Come to the second row and the story changes slightly with the comfort level being more adaptable for users. There is a good amount of head, shoulder and legroom in both the rows. Taking a closer look at the latest addition, the third row, we can safely say that you will complain for space. Despite featuring a one touch tumble for the second row, access to the third row of seats isn’t that great as one needs to manoeuvre themselves according to their size. Furthermore the seats accommodate children for ideal utilisation. With the third row up, it offers 170-litres of boot space, enough to accommodate a few duffle bags. For added space, the same row can be folded down to increase luggage room to 481-litres.
It comes equipped with 60 plus active and passive safety features. Keeping in mind the price conscious Indian market, the American carmaker has skipped ADAS features on the SUV but has provided it with essential equipment like 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, front and rear parking sensors, electric parking brake, electronic stability control (ESC), traction control (TC), tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as standard fitment.
Jeep Meridian Engine and Performance
As we all know, the Meridian for the time being is going to be offered with only a diesel powerplant. This is the same engine that is already seen on the Compass Facelift. Talking about the power output, it remains unchanged from its 5-seater sibling delivering figures of 168 bhp with 350 Nm torque. The automaker through its product briefing did mention an equal power to weight ratio for the SUV. However when we drove it, that feeling was a bit different as the engine felt a bit underpowered considering its huge size. Hold it by the neck (accelerate hard) and the NVH levels become quite prominent. Matted to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the gearbox feels a bit lazy responding to the throttle inputs on the road. But off road it gels well with the four wheel drive system to help tackle any sort of terrain thrown at it. The initial revs might take a bit of time but once beyond that this SUV moves. Despite its larger size, the Meridian offers a good turning radius of 5.7 meters which is the least in its segment. As for its ride quality, with an independent suspension setup the four-wheeler does well both on and off-road soaking up bumps and potholes with ease. With minimum amount of body roll, the vehicle handles pretty well. The SUV is a star performer when it comes the off-road with the best traction, articulation, manoeuvrability, water fording capacity, approach and departure angles.
Jeep Meridian Verdict
Riding high on Jeep’s heritage, the Meridian does seem to be a potent option in the luxury 7-seater SUV segment. This however will depend on the all-important price announcement which is expected sometime in June next month. That said, safety and off-road capability rank really high up there for the SUV but in terms of performance and comfort there are a couple of aspects to ponder upon. On the whole, we would give the All-New Jeep Meridian a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 for its overall package.