The Jeep Meridian is a seven-seat version of the Jeep Compass, complete with front wheel drive origins and similar front styling; the rear owes more to the company’s biggest SUVs. To allow for seven seats, the wheelbase is 158 mm longer and the length is 4.8 meters (4769mm, or 188 inches).
The concept is the same as that of the Jeep Grand Commander, which stretched a CUSW Cherokee; but the Grand Commander, once rumored to be headed to the US as a Chrysler, went nowhere, and the SUSW Compass was lengthened for India and other countries. The length gain added 247 lb (112 kg) of weight, as well.
The front bumper is different from that of the Compass to allow for a better approach angle, and 18-inch wheels are standard—with optional 19 inchers available. The 203mm ground clearance is shared with the Compass. The Meridian is also wider and taller than the Compass. The dashboard is similar, differing with the brown leather and finishes; the 10.1-inch center screen and 10.2-inch digital gauges carried over.
The Indian Meridian has a Fiat diesel engine (2 liters, 167 hp, 350 Nm/258 lb-ft in this use) and manual transmission; a nine-speed automatic is optional with AWD. Jeep’s claimed 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time is 10.8 seconds, beating the comparable Toyota Fortuner.
Selec-Terrain is included along with other upscale features; the Compass’ independent suspension carries over, though it was retuned for the greater length, local conditions, and a softer, more luxurious ride. (The Compass itself was only launched in India in mid-2017 and so far has only been joined by the Wrangler.)
Luxury options or features include ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, memory driver’s seat, wireless phone charger, dual -zone climate control, automatic LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and 360-degree cameras.
One of its main competitors was the Toyota Fortuner, a compact-pickup-based mid-sized SUV engineered for Australia and India, similar in many ways to the 4Runner. It sports a five-link coilover rear suspension, with a touch body-on-frame design. The Meridian is almost the same length, but has a unibody basis; Fortuner is rear-drive based and Meridian is front-drive based. Yet, according to EvoIndia, the Jeep Meridian had a “clear win” over the Toyota Fortuner when driven off-road. That publication, which took the Meridian off-road on a tough course, declared the Meridian’s capabilities to be “off the charts” for unibody SUVs—and, again, superior to the body-on-frame Fortuner. India Today did not compare the Meridian, but did praise the ride quality, especially on poor roads; and said it did “quite well, better than expected, in fact, tackling steep inclines, severe drops, water wading, and varying terrains with ease.”
For the more common on-road scenarios, EvoIndia also found the Meridian to be the winner against the Fortuner; despite some body roll, they found the handling and ride to be superior to the Toyota.
Jeep Meridian features and options include wireless Apple CarPlay, digital dashboard, panoramic sunroof, adjustable seats, and a leather trim that’s not available on the Compass. EvoIndia found the lack of captain’s chairs for the middle row puzzling, given the high-end pricing of the Meridian, and suggested it wasn’t the best vehicle for chauffer-driven luxury; however, the middle seats fold and tumble out of the way, providing rearmost seats with fine leg room. They found middle row knee room to be acceptable but not generous and warned that seating for seven is tight. India Today, in contrast, liked the middle row knee room but warned that because the middle row can’t be moved fore and aft, the rearmost seats suffered. The two agreed that cargo space was good.
The Meridian went on sale in India on May 19, 2022.
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