Today, Stellantis announced renewed investment in India, with four Jeeps to be made there—the Wrangler, Compass, Grand Cherokee, and … Meridian.
What on earth is a Jeep Meridian, you may ask?
This is a Jeep Meridian. The Meridian is a seven-seat version of the Jeep Compass, complete with front wheel drive origins and similar front styling, though the rear owes more to the company’s biggest SUVs. The bumper is different from that of the Compass to allow for a better approach angle; 18-inch wheels are standard. The biggest difference is a 158 mm longer wheelbase and a greater length (4769 mm, or 4.8 meters, or 188 inches) to allow for seven seats.
The basic concept is that of the Jeep Grand Commander, once thought to be headed for the USA as a Chrysler crossover; the Grand Commander stretched a Cherokee to be a seven-seater. Apparently the results were not idea, because the Chrysler never showed up and billions were put into creating the Meridian as well, filling roughly the same place in the corporate lineup.
The Jeep Meridian shares the Compass’ nine-speed automatic, independent suspension, 203mm ground clearance, Selec-Terrain, and much of the interior. The suspension was retuned for a softer ride.
The added length puts 112 kg of extra weight into it. A manual transmission is standard; the nine-speed is only sold with all wheel drive.
One of its main competitors will be the Toyota Fortuner, a pickup-based SUV; the Meridian is almost the same length.
Features and options include wireless Apple CarPlay, digital dashboard, panoramic sunroof, adjustable seats, and a special leather trim not available on the Compass.
EvoIndia’s review was up-front about the Compass origins, and noted that middle row knee room is acceptable, but that there are no captain’s chairs or sliding chairs for the middle row. You can however fold and tumble the middle seats easily providing a quite large rearmost-seat leg room. The magazine warned that seating for seven will be tight, but praised the ride, especially on bad roads. While there is more body roll than the Compass, EvoIndia still felt it had a “clear win” over the Toyota both on-road and off-road. They dubbed the off-road ability to be “off the charts” for unibody SUVs, taking on level 5 and 6 challenges with ease.
The only engine is a 2-liter Fiat diesel with 167 hp and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft); the 0-62 mph time is 10.8 seconds, which at least beats the big Toyota. This engine is also used in the Compass. The Hindustan Times quoted a 198 kph top speed.
At launch, the Meridian was listed in India as being sold in Limited form only, starting at ₹29.90 lakh with front wheel drive and manual transmission; the automatic adds roughly 2 lakh and is required for AWD. One model is sold with automatic and AWD; it costs ₹36.95 lakh. These prices were called “disruptive” by the Hindustan Times, which declared that the SUV will “take the fight to its rivals.”