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Old 18th June 2022, 17:16   #1
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Default My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic
Color: Techno Green
Purchased: June 2022
Km log: ~800 kms, at the time of publishing the initial review


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My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-a034caff7f2a4001848626ade75c726f.jpeg
Hopefully this review gives members our own version of the Essential Information Guide & some key ownership insights to this much debated product.

I have split this initial review into four broad parts:

Part 1: My written review of various aspects of the car, including the decision making process that led up to the purchase.

Part 2: The review supplemented and continued via pictures. The official review has an excellent pictoral review so Iíve kept this one to the basics.

Part 3: A third party perspective from two friends who took an extended test drive of the car. One owns a 2021 Fortuner Legender 4x4 A/T and the other owns a 2021 Compass 4x4 S A/T. No mandate was provided. Told them to pen whatever thoughts come to their mind. Free run. Also included comparo pics with each of these two vehicles for ready visual perspective. I have also laid down my own observations vis a vis the two vehicles in this section.

Part 4: Some randomised rapid fire FAQs.


INTRODUCTION

Thereís been a fair bit of anticipation around the Meridian launch with some hoping it would finally fill the competitive void left by the Endeavour, while others have hoped it would take the Kodiaq head on with a comparable alternative, albeit with a more economical diesel heart.

It would be fair to say that it seems to have a disappointed many prospective buyers & enthusiasts in some key aspects, including most notably:
(i) the engine specs which at some point were rumoured to be ~200 hp, combined with the less than perfect gearbox tune; and
(ii) third row space and usability.

In this thread, Iíve tried to outline how I perceive the Meridian (with its imperfections as well as strengths) and why it made sense for my use case regardless. There is no doubt though that some compromises were made and ultimately this was about choosing a product based on compromises I could live with vs those I couldnít accept.

The need for a second car
My 3 GT for all practical purpose is my only car as the Grand i10 belongs to my mum and though we live together in Mumbai, it spends extended and unpredictable periods of time in Pune when she visits there. Come October 2022, the GT would complete seven years and Iíd been on the lookout for a second car to supplement as well as complement the GT. The broad required criteria being a rugged, abuse friendly, spacious, monocoque, crossover / SUV. Five seats / two rows are enough and reasonably capable AWD / 4x4 abilities were Ďgood to haveí.

The intention was to make this a workhorse - both chauffeur and self driven - the GT graduating to being a bit more of a personal driven car for me alone. I do intend to keep the GT for another 3 - 5 years depending on how reliability and maintenance progresses so I was keen to buy this car latest before the GT turns 7. This way I can prepay / repay any associated car loans by around 2025, which is approximately around the 10th anniversary of the GT.

Budget
I had a fairly broad budget with the sweet spot being 35 - 50 lakh but being open to options in the 27 - 35L range and the budget also extendable to 60-70L range. If I was going to extend my budget to 60-70L (+/-) I was not willing to live with ANY material compromise on the product side. I didnít see this in the 60L+ options available and thatís part of the reason I stayed within the 50L mark for this one.


THE WISH LIST
(in no specific order)

# Comfortable back seat;
# Good ride quality;
# Spacious 4 - 5 seater (optional +2 is a nice bonus but by no means critical);
# Reliable, well built, rugged and safe;
# Easy to drive in the city, and yet Ö
# Solid to cruise on the highway;
# High quality, pleasing to the eye interiors;
# Fun to drive, both in the city as well as on the open road;
# Flexible luggage hauling capabilities.


OPTIONS CONSIDERED

1. Skoda Kodiaq
This is literally the closest possible competitor to the Meridian. ďManyĒ (not all) things that are important to me which the Meridian does well, the Kodiaq does as well at least, if not better. MOST importantly, the engine and drive experience are a notch above with its sophisticated DSG and petrol refinement. This would have been the single biggest pull factor for the Kodiaq. The extra few lakhs for the L&K would not have been a deal breaker either, nor would the more expensive petrol running cost, although the latter would have been a constant irritant in my mind for sure.

Finally, where the Meridian has a combination of extremely well finished interiors combined with some slightly scratchy looking hard plastics, the Kodiaq looks more Ďconsistentlyí sophisticated inside.

So what went against it?
# Petrol vs Diesel:
While petrol vs diesel is not an outright deal breaker, it is still a minor negative. I wanted this to be the workhorse taking higher kms load going forward.
# Second row comfort:
This is personal but I found the under-thigh support (very important to me) in the Meridian far better than the Kodiaq. While the sliding second row feature of the Kodiaq is certainly handy, the non sliding aspect of the Meridian, though annoying, did not compromise my rear seat seating comfort in any way. I am on the much shorter side though for context and taller folks should independently assess this aspect.
# Reliability:
This is a big one. I want a car that occupies minimal mind space 365 days a year. Even if I allocate a pre-set monetary budget for unforeseen issues, I simply donít have the time or the mental bandwidth to deal with service stations on out of ordinary issues. This continues to play on my mind every time there is a VAG car under consideration. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Jeep will not disappoint on this front, although their reputation is also a mixed bag - this is a calibrated call Iíve taken against the almost certain screw-over that brand VAG promises.
# Availability:
And finally Ö even if I accepted all of the above factors and still wanted the Kodiaq, the analysis & decision would be moot, because the car canít be had even if you landed at the showroom with a suitcase full of 5 mio greenbacks (I know there is the odd case of one off availability if you track it). Its simply not available till 2023 and thatís not an amount of time Iím inclined to wait, that too for a product that has its own significant compromises.

As a moot point - would I have picked the Meridian had the Kodiaq been readily available? Iím not really sure and while it would have gone to the wire, I think the Meridian would still have cinched it. It helps that the Meridian is a pleasure to drive in its own right, by any measure. Its not like youíre picking the tortoise over a hare. In fact having done a few highway runs since I bought it, its definitely fun to drive in most conditions. More on this aspect in the more detailed review.

2. VW Tiguan
Again - an excellent choice, but neither my wife nor I, liked the interiors. While Iím all for understated classy designs, somehow the look and feel of the Tiguan is just too 2017 - it felt plain and also really depressing with its all dark interiors. Itís beautiful to drive, has a great boot, (adequate for my requirements) but didnít feel like a pleasing place to be, the rear seat comfort also fell short of my requirements, much like its cousin. I donít recall even checking the price in the final assessment. At the end of the day, if I had to go with VAG with this particular engine, Iíd always prefer the Kodiaq over the Tiguan. Buying the Tiguan just because the Kodiaq is not available would not have cut it in the long run.

3. Toyota Fortuner
The Toyota Fortuner is a brilliant vehicle - one that has an incredible fan base for very good reason, and I have nothing but the highest regard for it. In fact, my close mate and riding buddy has bought an Innova Crysta as well as a Legender - such is the fantastic fan following of these Toyota workhorses.

But Ö its just not for me. I am graduating from a lifetime of hatchbacks and sedans and for the first time ever am buying an SUV. I am really sure I want it mostly for its practicality on various fronts but compromise as little as possible on the car like experience to drive. The Fortuner is just too unwieldy and heavy for my liking. I also donít think it provides the car like driving experience which monocoque crossovers provide, neither is its ride quality likely to have the comfort that its monocoque competitors are likely to have. Overall this was simply a non-starter for me.

4. Hyundai Tucson
Other than the Kodiaq, this is probably the closest alternative that I actively considered. Ultimately, I think I just felt a greater pull from brand Jeep.

Thereís a desirability quotient to the Jeep that was simply not the same with Hyundai. Iím a big fan of modern Hyundais and I think theyíve come a long way in the last two decades. Having said that, I have driven a current gen Tucson and I just felt that the Meridian felt that little bit nicer, plusher, more solid and robust as a car. I also felt if I do decide to use the car for some occasional off road fun, the Meridian will handle it better (my untested Ďperceptioní). Finally, from all the images Iíve seen, while the 2022 Tucson is a funky looking design, I generally found the clean straight lines of the Meridian a bit more appealing than the overstyled Tucson - both inside and out. I canít quite justify it in specific terms but felt a stronger pull to the Meridian than the Tucson. Finally the generally low standards that Hyundai / Kia cars have come up with on safety even on their recent products just added to the cons list.

Outliers
5. MG ZS EV
I am really impressed by the MG ZS EV and as an outlier decision I was wondering whether to abort the heavy duty SUV / crossover plans and give EV ownership a shot. It is a decent size (nearabout Creta like), has a decent enough back seat and would have been an interesting foray into the EV space. However, I think the market is set to boom with options in this space and Iíd much rather revisit an EV purchase 3 - 5 years down the line when Iím done with the 3 GT, when there are a LOT more options to consider and the ecosystem may also have matured a bit more.

6. Used Discovery Sport
Didnít really find any options that were less than two years old and older models generally gravitate to the lower (~150 bhp) power output variants. Add to that the fact JLR ownership can still be a massive hit or miss, felt more secure going down the new Jeep route for now.

7. Compass
The Meridian pricing is a funny thing. When you look at the Kodiaq, Tiguan etc and what they offer, one could argue that the Meridian is no better or no worse priced than any of these options. On the other hand, one canít help but ponder that at the end of the day, one is paying 8L more than the Compass for:
# a bigger boot;
# a more comfortable second row;
# a better tuned engine that feels distinctly smoother;
# slightly more pleasant interiors with that incredibly tasteful mocha finish; and
Ö
well, thatís it!

You can play alphabet soup all day long with C segment and D segment tags, but from a functional standpoint, the Meridian presents a larger Compass with a very limited use third row, even though it does create significant design differentiation while doing so. I donít consider this a long haul 3 row people mover by any Ďstretchí (pun intended), although it can serve to seat your least favourite child on the odd occasion.

With this price to value equation in mind, I did test drive the Compass one more time to see if Iím ok with living with that interior size rather than blow an ~8L rupee hole for the larger Meridian. Test driving it back to back, both wife and I were clear - the additional space in the Meridian was a must have and much welcome.
8L welcome? No.
But did we want to pay 37L and buy into the Compass with its tight internal footprint. No!

We also felt that the drive of the Meridian was distinctly Ďsmootherí than the Compass, perhaps down to some slightly different tuning that its been given - another key factor.

So the Meridian it was then, yet again. I chose the 4x4 top of line automatic variant. Manuals are simply off the table for me. If I'm going to buy an SUV with some of the natural SUV limitations then I was clear I wanted 4x4 capability - I didn't want to spend all that money and then pick 4x2, even if for the very rare occasions that it may actually prove useful.


LIKES, DISLIKES AND OTHER NOTABLES

What I Like
# Classy modern styling inside and out, with an extremely well appointed interior.
# Fast, smooth & refined - three words that best describe the Meridianís engine and driving character.
# Solid build quality. It feels like a well built European car.
# Mature ride and handling characteristics - high speed handling in particular is excellent and the suspension is fantastic.
# Superbly calibrated steering which is easy / breezy at low speeds and weighs up nicely at faster highway clicks. No dead 11-1 center zone in this steering like what plagues many other cars, including the Fortuner, Innova, some Hyundais and some others.
# Rear bench has comfortable under-thigh support and the reclining seat further enhances the seating comfort. I find the Meridian very comfortable for 4 passengers and adequately comfortable for 4 adults and a child occupying two rows. A little more leg room would have been nicer though, specially for much taller families.
# This is my first car with Apple CarPlay and I love this feature. Perhaps not really a positive in a premium luxury car in 2022 but even my 3 GT doesnít have this and Iím loving the upgrade in user experience.
# The rear as well as 360 camera setup is excellent! The quality of the view, both in daylight and in the dark is brilliant and the camera view proportion is actually really helpful, unlike some other cars where either visibility is not that great or alternately the views are too skewed to be helpful.

What I Dislike
# Overpriced (so is a lot of its immediate competition though).
# The engine / gearbox combo. As an enthusiast, I do wish it had just a hint more of grunt and the gearbox was quicker in all conditions. Having said that, itís definitely not underpowered by any measure.
# No paddle shifters and no sports mode either! Absolutely inexcusable for a car of this price and segment. If you're going to badly overprice a product, at the very least, don't leave it short with material omissions or shortcomings.
# While my variant has an 18Ē wheel, the spare in the car is a 17Ē space saver. This is ridiculous!! In the event of a puncture, you're going to have to keep the full sized damaged wheel inside the car. Good luck with that if you're on a long trip with a full load of passengers + luggage.
# Lack of sliding middle row. It fortunately does not adversely impact middle row comfort for me but I would still have appreciated it for the flexibility in getting your perfect seating position.
# Some bits of the interior have slightly hard scratchy plastics. It is plush for most part but you can tell it has the odd mediocre bits interspersed here and there.
# The tiptronic is not that great for hard driving - the engine protests if you try redlining using the tiptronic controls. Works well enough for engine braking though.

Other notable points
# No 12v socket in the front. Why!!!
# While the MID menus are quite detailed and reasonably intuitive to use, the font used is extremely dull and boring looking. For such a snazzy interior, the visual appeal of the MID display is underwhelming.
# Chrome overkill. Compass S A/Tís grey overtones are classier in places where the Meridian throws in the chrome.
# Iím not a big fan of ADAS features and Iím personally glad the car skips on these.
# The 80/120 beep is actually not too intrusive in volume although being my first car with this feature - it is still annoying nevertheless. Iím not immediately inclined to have this removed - will wait and assess this later.
# The rear tailgate closing button is really weirdly placed ďinsideĒ the boot on the bottom left. Its hard enough to get mall security to press a button when its placed in plain sight, ON the tailgate - getting them to realise its inside the boot will be even harder.
# Iím not an audiophile but the speakers sounded pretty good to my untrained ears. You do need to play around with the settings though to get the best out of the system.
# Front as well as rear get two power ports - one USB C and one regular USB. Really handy.
# Buttons behind the steering for audio controls are a neat touch and Iíve gotten around to using them quite frequently. Very ergonomically friendly design.
# No sunglass holder anywhere near the driver / front passenger - annoying!
# 4x2 diesel automatic helps widen the appeal. Indeed a majority of bookings did seem to be for the 4x2 diesel automatic with the 4x4 variant being lower in numbers. I can see some prospective Compass customers who are indifferent to the 4x4 aspect and find the Compass too small, gravitating towards the Meridian 4x2 for the additional space on offer.
# The overall finish is excellent for most part but not uniformly rich. For instance, the plastic quality of the left and right stalks (indicator / wiper) seem Ďall rightí.
# The Jeep Life App is quite a nifty feature. I've only JUST activated it and may not have enough real time experience of using it at the time of publishing the review but I will post more information about it in due course. It can allow even locking and unlocking the car remotely and even shows current location of the car at any given point. Handy if you want to keep a remote watch on your chauffeur too if he uses the car alone a fair bit.


THE SALES EXPERIENCE: Landmark Jeep, Worli

I had paid a Rs. 20k fully refundable deposit to Jeep Worli around mid February, placing the proverbial hankerchief on the chair, marking my spot in the demand / supply circus prevalent in the current new car market.

Got a test drive within a couple of days of launch. I was convinced enough to 'up' the deposit to 50k (still fully refundable) based on this test drive to ensure I still remain in the first lot of allocations. Took a longer 45 km test drive early one morning and the decision was made - all within about 5-7 days from the car hitting the showroom. Proceeded to finalise loan paperwork and wait for the car to arrive in Mumbai. My entire file was handled by Siddhesh, who was extraordinarily helpful from the word go. I would in a heartbeat recommend him to anyone dealing with the Worli showroom.

Jeepís PDI shortcomings
A few aspects of PDI and delivery. My glove box light was not working intermittently - I had to ask them to look into this and resolve. The other more disturbing issue was a "service battery" message that popped up with the voltage not showing the ~14.1 that one should expect to see. They promptly looked into both issues (returning my car within the same day) and sorted both out. Having driven the car a couple of 100 kms this has sorted itself out. But for what ought to have been a properly PDI'd car, this was not cool. I'm also aware that I'm not the only new car owner who's faced this - both with the Meridian as well as previously with the Compass. Jeep dealers really need to pull up their socks on this front.

Detailed car explanation
Jeep organises a very detailed explanatory session on the car by one of their earmarked expert employees. For Landmark Jeep, Mumbai this was done for me by Mayur, a really knowledgeable and helpful chap. I scheduled this together with the accessory installation in the interest of time - so we did this about 10 days after getting the car, ensuring that my wife and driver (the two primary drivers other than me of course) also join this briefing.

I have to say - the briefing was excellent. Mayur was extremely knowledgeable, thoroughly systematic and organised (I'm sure Jeep has set out the format pat), was very handy with any questions that I had over and above what his practiced presentation was - and he was also full of impromptu practical advice which was clearly beyond the pre-set script. I've already made connects with the head technician who also seems like a helpful guy but am now also pleased to have made the introduction with Mayur as well.

This entire session, every aspect of it, left me thoroughly impressed.


EXTENDED WARRANTY & ACCESSORIES PURCHASED

Extended Warranty:
Default warranty is three years & 100,000 kms and extended warranty, which enhances this to 5 years / 150,000 kms is priced at Rs. 50,000 (the Compass is for ~42/43k). I have already paid and opted in for this, since we do tend to hold our cars long and 4 - 5 years (if not longer) of ownership is fairly likely.

Accessories purchased:
# Mud flaps
# Slush mats (super quality)
# Small card perfume (useless)
# Coat hanger (nice)
# Clip on sunshades on four windows (nice)

Getting the accessories though was a royal pain. I received the accessories (including something as immediate and obvious as floor mats / mud flaps etc) a good 8 - 9 days after receiving the car, despite having communicated which ones I wanted well before delivery. I think Jeep should have at least managed production of the most common accessories aligned to anticipated deliveries. Not their best moment so far on this front. What Iíve listed above cost me ~INR 23k or thereabouts.


PRICING

MRP listed price in Mumbai was about 45.20 lakh which included a ludicrous 2L towards insurance. I had always made it clear that I would not be paying this astronomical amount towards insurance and I expect this to be shaved off in the ultimate bill. I didnít try to press them to remove handling charges etc - one way or the other they also will try to make their margins, but my ultimate on road price included a 96k discount on insurance, bringing the final purchase price to a shade under 44.25L. Costs of accessories and extended warranty were over and above so one can assuming factoring all of that I will ultimately have paid approximately 45 lakh.

A lot has been said about the pricing of the Meridian. Letís address that elephant in the room as well now. In my view, the vehicle is a roomier compass with a third row, which is as usable or unusable as a Tiguan Allspace / Kodiaq etc. It does have some additional advantages over the Compass in terms of engine refinement / smoothness, slightly better ride and handling etc. For comparable variants, I donít believe it warrants more than 2.5-3.5L total (at best) over an already richly priced Compass. It is definitely 4 - 5 lakh overpriced in that sense in my opinion.

Jeep should have priced the Meridian closer to this more realistic benchmark, gauged market reaction and then, if needed, done a creeping price hike over a period of time, calibrated to customer response. Right now, they've left themselves between a rock and a hard place on pricing. Models that don't succeed at launch tend to stutter for much longer periods and Jeep executives have their work cut out to turn this around from here.

Having said that, my most obvious competition to this purchase ranged from the Compass, Tiguan, Kodiaq and the Fortuner. In my opinion, the Compass itself is overpriced by 2 - 3L; the Tiguan and Kodiaq overpriced by about 3-4 lakh each and the Fortuner is overpriced by about 5 - 7 lakh. Extending the discussion to other more remote alternatives, in my view, the Innova is overpriced by 3 - 5 lakh; the Tucson is likely well priced (at least the current gen) although looks 1.5 - 2 generations older than anything else on the market today.

If you are choosing your steed from within the entire Fortuner / VAG etc segment, then you may need to see the pricing in that context, although the difference is that the above brands earned their chops over several years to get to their current pricing.

Am I happy overpaying for the Meridian - absolutely NOT! But within such a narrow band, I am ultimately going to select the car I want, not the price / VFM quotient that I want. Any other options that might have outright held more appeal (like the X3 or Discovery Sport) are nearly 1.8-2.0x the price of the Meridian.

What might queer the pitch slightly for the Meridian is the 2022 Tucson, if it comes at a really attractive price. Most customers don't really care too much about 4x4 etc - we've already established that the third row of the Meridian has very limited passenger use. In that sense, as a spacious modern 5 seater monocoque SUV, if the Tucson top of line AWD can come in at under 37 lakh (on road), I think it has the potential to pull away a lot of the 4x2 Meridian customers (for reference, with the reduced insurance amount, that retails at ~41 lakh).

Lets see how Jeep addresses this going forward. I'm expecting demand to remain muted at these price levels.

Last edited by Axe77 : 29th June 2022 at 17:13.
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Old 20th June 2022, 07:27   #2
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

THE MERIDIAN REVIEW:

With that background and context, lets move on to the various aspects of the review itself.


EXTERIOR

This is a handsome vehicle with the classic and clean rugged lines that are the trademark of brand Jeep. While functionally it may be a more spacious Compass, from a design perspective, it carries its own distinctive styling and by no means looks like a stretched compass. This is particularly apparent once you’ve moved past the A pillar and completely clear from the rear. Purely one on one, I still feel that in terms of proportions and look, the Compass looks absolutely dope and its proportions are spot on but the Meridian is also extremely handsome in its own right. If I had to mark these two cars on external looks alone, it’s the Compass that would get my vote, but not by a lot. The fact that junior’s top of line S variant has dark contrast highlights in many areas where the Meridian Limited (O) goes with unappealing chrome only seals this further. I have, later in this review included some comparison pics of the Meridian and the 2021 facelift Compass - luckily, both vehicles for these pics came in the same techno green color to make the comparison even more direct.

The front carries the unmistakably handsome Jeep looks, very similar to the Compass, underscored by that distinctive grill. As you move along the side and towards the rear, the car unveils its distinct identity. It has an imposing jacked up stance and despite sporting generous 18" wheels, looks a tad under - tyred at the rear, such is the raised stance of the Meridian. The clean lines continue all the way till the rear - view it head on from the rear and the stark difference from the Compass is evident thanks to the distinctive tail lights of the Meridian. The alloys too have a nice classy look to them - absolutely loved their design.

All in all, this gets an 8 / 10 from me in the external looks department. Would have been 9 if they had not done the chrome overkill.


INTERIOR

The Look
Visually, the Meridian certainly looks rich for most part. The two tone mocha / black interiors are tastefully executed and all the leather bits on the seats and specially on the dash look very high quality. Combined with its larger internal space, it gives the Meridian a much roomier ambience over its smaller sibling. Metal bits on the dash look equally well designed. The more mediocre bits are not excessively apparent and is largely felt through the slightly scratchy black plastics on some panels as well as the quality of the stalks etc.

The infotainment system looks absolutely fantastic and is reasonably intuitive to use. Overall this vehicle exudes proper European class through and through. The MID screen in the cockpit too is pretty detailed and fully digital though it does not reflect the richness of the rest of the cabin. The primary reason for this is that the colors and font used do not lend it a snazzy look that would be commensurate with its positioning as well as the quality exuded by the rest of the cabin.

The same quality continues in the second row with the added richness provided by the massive pano sunroof, which extends all the way till the back of the second row. Open the internal roof lining under the sunroof and the spaciousness of the Meridian is enhanced even further. Where the Compass (while comfortable for two at the back) seems a bit claustrophobic and cramped (specially in the all black S trim), the marginal extra width, additional length and the mocha interiors of the Meridian do wonders to make it a far roomier and comfortable space to be in.

Overall on the interiors, I'd give this interior an 8 / 10. Would have been a 9 / 9.5 if the leg room was a bit more and the seat reclined to Tucson levels, combined with more consistently rich finish.

The Feel
Front row
The interiors are for most part extremely comfortable. Front seat comfort is completely fine for me but the proportions of the seats are “adequate”. For someone with a large frame though, I can imagine the seats being just about average in comfort. They’re certainly not XXL size.

The ergonomics are fantastic, the storage well designed and all controls fall to hand easily. Even the touchscreen responsiveness is really good so its easy to use even while you’re driving the car. The central console has a nice leather rest along the sides (missing in the Compass).

Side door panels have a nicely scooped out recess to hold bottles. I’ve subjected these to my Headway test (placing the various Headway branded flasks I use in the centre as well as side pockets) and they fit in fine. A sunglass holder would have been nice to have but is missing. Some of the controls are not where you’d intuitively expect them but again, nothing fatal here. The wireless charging works well and is complemented by two ports - one regular USB and one Type C USB.

There is a really useful narrow crevice beside the centre cup holder which allows a cellphone to be placed within - a really handy design feature as well, one that’s missing in the Compass it seems. The glove box though is strictly average. I couldn’t even fit the 10" iPad Pro in it when I tried recently.

2nd row
Move to the rear seat and it is similarly comfortable. Personally I loved the second row seat design. Its well contoured with the right level of under-thigh support. The rear leg room is adequate too and while one could argue about the second row not sliding, I haven’t found that to impair my comfort in the back seat. There is a useful recline to the second row, enhancing comfort. Second row seating comfort was a BIG factor for me and I’m more than happy on this front. For direct comparison, I’d say the Tucson second row is marginally more comfortable in leg room and seat recline) but the Meridian trumps it in under-thigh support. The Fortuner is likely the more comfortable back seat in design but when looked in totality with ride / handling / suspension / body roll and similar factors, I’d much rather be in the Meridian 2nd row than the Fortuner’s.

3rd row
Best used for luggage. Drop the third row and you have a spacious comfortable 4 / 5 seater with massive luggage room for those long road trips. Put it back up and you can squeeze a couple of kids in.

How I use the third row?
# Late night city drives with the neighbours (4 adults; 2 small kids): Plonk the bachchas in the last row and the 4 adults can occupy first two rows.
# Long weekend getaway with another family. While you can drive their in your respective cars, the above setup of moving around locally when you’re AT the holiday destination is handy.
# I like the luggage loading flexibility that the third row provides. I usually have one half down and one half up with the backrest incline of the latter adjusted to need. Keeps large luggage fixed in one place. For instance, my folding bike fits neatly in the space behind the (half) upright third row seat and helps it stay in place and not toss around the entire boot.

This is NOT a vehicle that would enable three row touring for people with luggage. Having said that, I’m hard pressed to think of very many three row vehicles that enable that in any case. The only examples I can think of are Carnival, Innova and Fortuner perhaps but even in the latter two, luggage management is a challenge.

Boot
With all seats up, boot space is predictably modest, as is the case with most such three row cars. It has excellent boot space with the third row folded down though. Drop down the last two rows and it can create a nice flat floor for loading in stuff like - in my use case - an entire bicycle placed in for those longer training sessions.

This is the exact sort of flexi boot space / storage I was looking for from this purchase and ticks this aspect perfectly for me.


DRIVING THE 2.0 LTR DIESEL A/T: The engine and gearbox

In the City
What the Meridian lacks is that shove in the back sort of acceleration from rest and urgent kick downs on demand. If you keep aside these two aspects, the Meridian is an extremely rewarding car to drive both in the city and the highway. It needs a certain knack to extract the smoothest and quickest power delivery though - just lifting off momentarily off the accelerator when you’re trying to push hard seems to do the trick on many occasions.

The Jeep takes off with a smooth, linear power delivery and I’ve rarely found the car wanting within city limits. Combined with its excellent suspension and taut handling, I consider this a fast, fun to drive car but not one that will provide stupid grin-inducing acceleration. It is extremely easy to drive in city limits and with its light and easy to use steering and at no point have I felt that I’m piloting an Innova sized SUV around the city. This is as car like to drive as one can expect a reasonably full size SUV to be.

On the highway
I’ve now done about two runs on the highway in this car, the first mostly relegated to the old Bombay Pune highway till Karjat and another one on the expressway until Lonavla and then onward to the twisties until Aamby Valley. The Lonavla to Aamby stretch was done back to back with a Fortuner Legender, where we took turns driving each of the cars. The one caveat is that these drives are still in the running in period so I'm not unduly pushing the car hard to its limits. I'll post further updates once the car is beyond the first few 1000 kms and the engine has opened up a bit.

The Meridian is clearly a fast highway cruiser as well and will comfortably munch miles all day long, providing great cornering and handling abilities as well while at it. It has a beautifully weighted steering that is really easy and light at dead slow speeds and weighs up nicely as you speed up. One could nit pick and say it’s still a hint too soft at higher speeds but that’s splitting hair to some extent. Again, as mentioned in the city driving notes, if you discount its unwillingness to provide hard kick downs or push back against the seat take offs, this is a fast rewarding engine. The gearbox is good but not outstanding - but by no stretch a deal breaker. It gathers speed in a linear manner without the manic urgency of an outright high performance engine. Again, like other reviews have acknowledged, this should tick the boxes for most prospective owners - only that top 5 or 10 percentile of enthusiasts are likely to feel that pinch of disappointment.

Overall
What strikes me straight off the bat is just how refined and smooth this engine has been tuned. I have now driven the Compass and Meridian back to back on two occasions and the Meridian engine just felt smoother than the Compass for some reason. I would ask prospective customers who’re put off by the engine specs and gearbox reputation to take an extended test drive of the car before deciding either way. Many may find that it delivers more than what on paper numbers suggest. For instance, despite carrying the same engine specs as the Compass, at no point have I found the drive / responsiveness inferior to the Compass. It is as peppy as its younger sibling and if anything, feels more sophisticated in the way it delivers its power thanks to the additional smoothness.

All in all, an 7.5 / 10 from me on this front. This would have been an 8 / 8.5 if the engine / gearbox combo had been spot on.


RIDE & HANDLING

The suspension is one of the strong points of the Meridian. Where the Compass suspension is impressive, this one, with its longer wheelbase provides an even better ride and handling experience. The car dispatches bumps fantastically and while it brings strong BOF like capability in handling bad roads, it combines it with remarkable high speed handling and stability. As anything higher than a sedan goes, I’d be much happier tackling curves aggressively in the Meridian than I would be in vehicles like an Innova or Fortuner. The car feels rock solid at fast speeds and is very reassuring even for quick swerve manoeuvres at highway speeds - clearly superior to its BOF alternatives on this front and much like what I’d expect (haven’t experienced) in vehicles like Kodiaq / Tiguan. I’ve driven a Fortuner on a highway and I can say without a doubt that on all the above fronts, the Meridian delivers a superior driving experience.

An 8.5 / 10 from me on ride and handling, with perhaps half a mark lost just for the ‘slightly’ harder ride quality at very low speeds although that’s a perfectly acceptable proposition to me for the overall driving dynamics they’ve delivered.


MISCELLANEOUS

Braking
The car sports disc brakes all around with a nice progressive feel to the pedals. Braking is strong and the car remains composed even under hard braking. I did simulate a hard braking scenario with a slight swerve and the car was extremely well composed and handled surprisingly predictably for an SUV body style. No complaints whatsoever from the big Jeep on this front.

Air Conditioning
I found the air conditioning really mediocre for some reason, specially in the first row. There were times when I was trying to adjust the blower in whatever way possible and the air flow still seemed totally inadequate. Seems really strange. The vents themselves are also very compact, perhaps contributing to this feeling of not enough air coming through. I want to observe this more carefully over a longer period. I'll leave the jury out on this over more extended usage but for now I'm inclined to give this a 6 / 10.

NVH
The NVH management on the Meridian is absolutely outstanding. A super smooth engine combined with excellent NVH management means this really does not feel like buying into the clattering unrefined diesel engines of yore.

Fuel Efficiency
I’ve only done a couple of fuel top ups at the time of writing this review and in mixed (city / highway) running, its delivered around 7-8 kmpl efficiency. Based on my conversations with diesel AT Compass owners, I expect this to improve over a period of time as the car runs in. Will keep the thread updated with these figures from time to time. Some of my Compass owner friends now routinely get early double digits in similar usage.

One point - the MID is impressively accurate. I did a tank to tank calculation where the MID displayed 7.0 kmpl while the full tank to full tank calculation yielded 6.99 or something. Impressive indeed - my BMW can be off the mark by almost 2 - 3 kmpl at times, with the MID displaying the more optimistic numbers compared to actual consumption. Maybe this was a one off but that's what I have seen so far. Will continue to track its accuracy level going forward as well.

At this point, its a 7 / 10 from me on FE. If over extended usage this vehicle delivers me anywhere around 8.5-10 kmpl in city traffic and 12 - 14 on highway runs, I’d rate it an 8.5 or 9 /10 on this front.


CONCLUSION

Overall I'd say this is an extremely competent car, let down, above all else by poor pricing decisions. When you look at other overpriced products like a Fortuner or even an Innova, Jeep has to bear in mind that there is years of proven brand equity that has gone into building their reputation and they all started with far more attractive price tags. Even a brand like VAG has years of pedigree behind their value-luxury reputation.

Jeep for all practical purpose is a 5 years old single product company (in the mass market context) and still has to entrench its brand value before it commands a rich premium for each new product. Mis-pricing this product is an irreversible faux pas that the company can ill afford for what was strategically a key launch. If nothing else, its recent identical experience within the Stellantis family via the underwhelming C5 launch should have been a ready reference point to avoid the same mistake.

If you take this one single biggest folly away, the product has enough merit to stand successfully on its own feet. Yes, there are some areas where it could have done better but my sense is that many sections of the market may have been more willing to overlook these if the car was 3 - 4 lakh cheaper. The ones who need proper three row people movers would still be best served looking elsewhere but there's a large market outside that universe, which Jeep could have tapped into but will struggle to convert at its current price.

The car is clearly extremely capable and for those looking for a spacious two row diesel SUV, the Meridian makes a pretty compelling case for itself, as long as you're willing to part with a few extra greenbacks for that privilege.

Last edited by Axe77 : 27th June 2022 at 16:02.
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

THE MERIDIAN: SHOWCASED VIA PICS



My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-steering-portrait.jpg
A capable product indeed but will it be able to steer brand Jeep to the next level?


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-jeep-bonnet.jpg
The bonnet comes with a nicely designed scoop, distinguishing it from the bonnet of the Compass.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-engine-bay.jpg
The engine bay, housing one of the more controversial discussion points of the Meridian. Honestly, the engine is a fairly quick and capable highway performer - it would be unfair to tag it as outright underpowered.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-3-qtr-full-view.jpg
Nice proportionate lines lend it a strong look. The heightened stance prevents it from getting an estate like look.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-head-tree-lined-road.jpg
In its natural element. I love how this green color subtly accentuate its adventure-ready credentials.



My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-3-qtr-half-view-pass-side.jpg
Strong, clean lines with only the chrome overkill playing spoilsport. I will seriously consider blackening out some of these chrome design highlights, like I did with my 3GT front grill.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-left-headlight.jpg
LED lights have a decent throw, in both low as well as high beam. The angle of the light throw can be adjusted with a rotary knob next to the headlight switch. I found them neither lacking nor remarkable. Par for course.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-jeep-logo-bonnet.jpg
The one view which sports the closest resemblance to the Compass. As you move further back the distinct design elements between the two become progressively more evident.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-3-qtr-full-view-pass-side.jpg
The green blending beautifully with the monsoon enveloped western ghats.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-side-full-view.jpg
Viewed side on, it resembles its elder sibling a lot more than the Compass. Nice straight stance give it a strong presence, even when its stood beside the big daddy Fortuner.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-meridian-door-badging.jpg
The predictable Meridian badging on the front door, carried out in chrome unlike on the Compass S where its in a nicer & subtler grey.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-jeep-sky.jpg
Saw this just after our fuel halt, before the Lonavla ghat. Used to sport the Compass below the Jeep lettering. Being redone to showcase the Meridian perhaps?

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-rear-3-qtr-full-view.jpg
The rear three quarters view with its distinctive tail lights.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-rear-3-qtrs-partial-view.jpg
Jacked up stance makes even the 18" tyres look under-tyred (which they're not).


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-rear-half-view.jpg
4x4 creds elegantly displayed on the rear.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-rear-view-head-.jpg
Minimal fuss at the rear, with only three logos - Jeep, the variant (Limited) and 4x4. The MG Gloster could take a cue on reducing its rear badging.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-merid-rear-dark-sky.jpg
Really hope that the "Limited" badging is not an uncanny prophecy into its sales numbers.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-pano-sun-roof-full-view.jpg
The view from the stunning sunroof. For our drive to Lonavla from Bombay, I actually spent the better part of it in the 2nd row to get a feel of the ride at the back. With the inner sunroof lining opened up, gazing into the overcast sky is a lovely feeling.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-boot-broadest-view.jpg
The boot door opens quite high to reveal a flat boot loading lip. The height to which it opens up can be adjusted, a feature not available on the Compass.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-spare-wheel-17.jpg
The exasperating 17" space saver (from Maxxis). Thanks to the three row format, the space saver sits below the car like most MUVs and SUVs, unlike the Compass in which it is accessed from inside the boot.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-fuel-cap-no-filler.jpg
Strange trend. The fuel filler has no external fuel cap. It just has a flap just inside which closes shut once the fuel nozzle is removed. Strangely disconcerting mechanism, this. The first time I saw this I was worried as to whether the attendant forgot to replace the fuel cap after our first fuel top up. Next to it is with the blue cap is from where you top up the DEF.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-bw-mirror.jpg
The mirror houses the brilliant 360 camera setup. I was advised to treat it with care. A replacement will set one back an eye watering 45k or thereabouts.


Last edited by Axe77 : 29th June 2022 at 17:12.
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

THE MERIDIAN: SHOWCASED VIA PICS



My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-first-row-full-view-outside.jpg
Well bolstered rich seats for the front passengers. Both come equipped with powered controls for seat adjustment.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-first-row-view-behind-2.jpg
The overall feeling when seated in the front is undoubtedly plush. The leather on the dash is extremely well finished, the infotainment display is rich and the steering looks classy and again, good to hold. Buttons are well laid out with a nice tactile feel to them. Despite being extremely well equipped, the overall controls don't look 'busy' as is the case with some cars.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-interior-left-half.jpg
A closer view of the left half of the front row. Note the left leg resting against the leather finish over the central console. A really nice ergonomic touch. My friend who owns a Compass was quick to notice this difference over the Compass and really liked it.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-bottle-full-side-door.jpg
The door pad continuing the nice leather finish. The crevice neatly holds some of my bottles but not some of the larger ones. I'd say its a good enough size. The scratchy black surfaces are more evident here although the smoother plastic and metal surfaces near the door handle are extremely well finished.
The Alpine speaker visible here, which is also quite nice overall.
Your seat position can be preset to two positions and you can program each of these positions with one of the keys each. If you have two regular drivers for the car, use a different key for each one and whenever you unlock with a particular key, the seat will automatically adjust to that pre-set setting. A super convenient touch indeed.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-def-consumption-after-750-kms.jpg
This is the DEF consumption after about 750 kms of driving. The level was at 100% when I got the car. I expect to refill it when its a little below 40-50% with about 5 litres of the diesel exhaust fluid.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-controls-gear.jpg
Well laid out buttons. Note the AC blowers which seem particularly compact. I was struggling to get the amount of air flow I needed a couple of times.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-steering-full.jpg
Well finished steering. The left side buttons control most of the MID while the right are for cruise control. The steering is well finished in leather with a nice contrast mocha stitching that matches the rest of the interior. Lends a classy touch. Stalks are designed like Germans (left for indicators and right for wipers etc).


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-front-dash-portrait-1.jpg
A nice close up of the front dash. Feels properly luxurious.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-fuel-efficiency-collage.jpg
MID is surprisingly accurate on the fuel consumption indicator. When my MID displayed 7.0 kmpl, the full tank to full tank manual calculation threw up 6.99 kmpl.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-mid-fe-consumption-screen.jpg
A mixed cycle with a generous chunk of highway running had upped the average economy to 8.5 kmpl. Was higher than that (almost 9 kmpl), when it was a bit more skewed to the highway portion.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-mid-tyre-pressure-screen.jpg
Tyre pressure screen is really helpful in that it doesn't just show a low pressure warning but actual pressure. I am not expecting this to be extraordinarily accurate though.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-2nd-row-full-view-out-2.jpg
The second row is generously proportioned with the well contoured seats enhancing passenger comfort. Under-thigh support is excellent but the leg room is 'all right' and not XXL generous. I can imagine leg room to be tight if you seat a six footer behind another 6 footer. Tall families - please do review this aspect with various permutations of family members seated when considering the Meridian.
Its not immediately apparent but resting on the window is the magnetic clip on sunshade. We got four of these of the front two rows.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-2nd-row-floor-full-view.jpg
The floor is reasonably flat. You can see the slush mats that are an aftermarket accessory. They're a bit pricey but I'm really pleased with this purchase. I'd recommend any Compass / Meridian purchaser to consider these if suitable to their needs.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-2nd-row-floor-closeup.jpg
Finally, the much elusive 12V socket resides here. Twin USB ports again here, one regular and one USB C - very useful indeed. Note the black panel on which all of these are housed. Looks decidedly ordinary and an unsightly deviation from the other luxuriously finished bits.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-coat-hanger.jpg
Another aftermarket accessory. The coat hanger is nicely finished and a useful addition. Well designed too. You can simply unclip the hanger alone if you want to carry your jacket out "on" the hanger for any reason.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-3rd-row.jpg
The much maligned third row. Kids can easily move about the city in the third row. Just don't expect too much more than that.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-boot-close-up-bags-n-bike.jpg
A close up of the boot. The seat back is deliberately set a bit upright to find the sweet spot to house my Brompton. Other than that its currently got my Michelin tyre inflator (in the black bag on extreme right), a bicycle pump, my office laptop bag, and a decent sized sling on bag that can be slipped on to the front of my Brompton.
Additional luggage can always be kept on the third row if needed.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-700301c3799d42339b30df50e6b05401.jpeg
Neat under-storage space next to the toolkit. Big enough to house my tyre inflator kit.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-994e19dcc4cc4c4ebc2f4918bff69bcf.jpeg
The expansive boot space with all rows down. Note the extremely flat long loading space it creates, which enhances usability. The loading lip is at the same level too making it easy to slide in large objects.
Super observant folks might detect the hint of yellow (Tiger) and red (Multistrada) beyond the front windshield. That’s one heck of an adventure ready trio. Sandwiched between the 2 bikes and the Jeep is the barely visible top of my N Torq - perhaps the most secure scooter in my building with the muscle overload surrounding it.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-6f75d8d184ca473fa977bb12a95cef69.jpeg
The boot displayed with various combinations of luggage storage facilities ranging from all rows up, partial third row up, both last rows down and just the third row down. For size context, the golf bag shown is not a full size adult golf bag but my pre-teen’s half kit golf bag.


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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

The Meridian vs the Compass | 2021 Compass 4x4 S A/T owner’s take on the Meridian


Compass owner’s comparison review:
Quote:
Having been blasted with pre-launch images of the Meridian, I was under the impression that Jeep’s new 7-seater would simply be a stretched Compass. After seeing it in the flesh, I realised that Jeep has indeed moved its Compass from magnetic north to geodetic north.

Though there are fingerprints of the Compass on the design, the Meridian has its own identity and character. It is a different SUV! Some of the new design elements, such as the front grill, sunken groove on the bonnet and the slit taillights, add a touch of modernity and are a refreshing departure from the Compass’ five plus year aging, but somewhat timeless design. However, I feel that the Meridian would have looked better without the chrome accents.

# Interiors: The tan seats and trims on the dash exude sophistication. Some thoughtful additions (which I wish were added to the Compass ☹) are: leather padding alongside the console that touches the left knee, mobile phone holders next to the cup holders and tailgate stops at desired angles when opened.
# Exterior: The snowflake design alloy wheels look awesome. I felt that the 18″ tires are rightsized for the Meridian.
# Ride and handling: is a notch above the 2021 S Diesel Compass. Having driven both SUVs back-to-back, I can say with conviction that Jeep has automagically tuned the gears in the Meridian for the better. The Meridian’s engine is unobtrusive, with enough muscle to pull the added size and curb weight, all while making it feel noticeably nimbler than the Compass.
# Better NVH: The cabin is strikingly quieter than the Compass.

Axe77’s comparison review:

I’ve now driven the Compass and Meridian back to back on two occasions. Once with the test drive cars of Jeep and the other time was my pal’s Compass and my Meridian.
# The first thing off the bat that’s evident is that the Meridian is smoother to drive than the Compass. I’m not sure what aspect of tuning has achieved this, but this is undoubtedly the case.
# While both sport the same engine specs, I have not found the Meridian slower than the Compass in any respect.
# Ride, handling and suspension characteristics are a hint improved over the Compass.
# While one might be arguably a derivative of the other, the Meridian has its own distinctive look and feel. Calling it an elongated compass in totality would be doing the Meridian a disservice (although even I’ve used that phrase in a limited context).
# The interiors definitely feel a touch nicer, thanks to the additional room inside and the choice of colors.
# Some nice internal touches that I’ve covered elsewhere are the niche in the centre storage that can hold a phone and the side cladding in the centre console where one can rest one’s knee.
# The 2nd row is more comfortable than the Compass, with a little extra width, although the Meridian should ideally have been a hint wider than it is to enhance passenger comfort for three abreast in the 2nd row.
# While both cars are handsome in their own right, I find the Compass the better looker with its taut design and better proportions. The chrome overkill on the Meridian only enhances this further in favour of the Compass.
# The Meridian clearly enjoys a higher ground clearance too. Handy for an SUV.

Overall, there is no doubt that the Meridian does improve on the Compass in many important areas. Its just that in terms of segment and price differentiation, that difference is not worth the 8L difference in the asking on road price. At best a 3/3.5L difference between the two would be justifiable in my opinion. This is particularly relevant given that the Compass itself is overpriced to begin with.

Comparison via pictures

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-3104b584156449bf9ae5aaaa09631e74.jpeg

The Compass and Meridian side by side comparo. While the front is reasonably similar, the rear is chalk and cheese. The Meridian is much more Grand Cherokee than Compass when viewed from behind. The Meridian bonnet has a slightly different scoop design than the Compass.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-08757d804cb14168bce99ecb0548f3aa.jpeg

A comparo of the length of the two cars. Note the effect of the Meridian's chrome vs the grey bits of the Compass. Even the “Meridian” tag on the front door is in chrome where the Compass lettering is in grey. The understated grey contrast looks so much more classy.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-cca8b2fe7d7e413eab8c7d3a00daee65.jpeg

Both models sport great alloy designs - I liked the Meridian ones a bit more though.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-e219777cc6f84d7ca02e037dbe2338f0.jpeg

Some small differences in the centre console. The Meridian gets the useful niche where you can place a phone. The side bolstering is also cushioned and more premium and nicer to rest your knee at compared to the Compass.

Last edited by Axe77 : 28th June 2022 at 11:21. Reason: Minor edit.
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

The Meridian vs the Legender | 2021 Fortuner Legender 4x4 A/T owner’s take on the Meridian


Fortuner owner’s comparison review:
Quote:


# On first look, the length of the Meridian is as much as the Fortuner! But the Fortuner is taller and appears the larger car. Clearly has more road presence.

# The seating height is closer to that of a sedan. Great for older folks. Higher seating of the Fortuner however means the driver has a better view of the road ahead and the surroundings. You do have to haul yourself into the car - challenging for the older folks with aching knees.

# Restricted view from the rear-view mirror in the Meridian - must depend more on the side view mirrors when compared to the Fortuner. The Fortuner is the roomier car and has better all-around view while driving.

# The full TFT panel of the Meridian is a delight. The Fortuner misses out on this.

# The interiors of the Meridian are plusher by a mile. The moon-roof and the overall good interior makes the Meridian look a generation ahead of the Fortuner. How the Meridian would age would have to be seen though. For the money you are paying for the Fortuner, the interiors disappoint. But the bucket seats on the Fortuner seem to hold you much better. The Fortuner in known to age better and for its bullet proof reliability.

# Oh! The bells and whistles in the Jeep. Tyre pressure monitor, wireless apple car play etc. Fortuner has a generation to go simply to catchup. Fortunately, you get wired apple car play now! The JBL Music system of the Fortuner is also really good.

# The engine is smaller in comparison to the Fortuner and the Meridian can’t pull away as fast as the big Toyota from a STOP light. But the Jeep can then catch up slightly later. Larger engine of the Fortuner means you always have torque on hand and that leads to effortless driving. Surprisingly, it would seem that despite its larger size and bigger engine, the Fortuner is not thirstier than the Meridian and in fact, the Fortuner might even be more frugal. Will be good to observe comparable fuel efficiency figures of both over a longer ownership duration. The Fortuner delivers a shade under 10 kmpl in Pune city and around 12 kmpl on the highway.

# Need to push the Meridian a little harder in comparison to the Fortuner so the drive gets a little noisier in the Jeep. Not that there is no engine noise coming into the cabin in the Toyota, but its less frequent than the Meridian as you may need to push the pedal less hard in the Fortuner.

# The Fortuner has three modes of driving. Eco/Normal/Sport. You can amble all along in the eco-mode when stuck in traffic or you could bring out the beast simply at the press of the sports mode. The paddle shifters in the Fortuner simply make driving a pleasure and stress free.

# With the Meridian, body roll is lesser, the suspension does a pretty good job taking on pot holes. You can attack corners faster. The Fortuner predictably has more pronounced body roll, after all it’s a body on frame construction. But then what potholes - you simply glide over anything the road throws at you. While you cannot attack corners at the same speed as in the Meridian, on a straight line, the Fortuner may hold the edge.

# In the 4*4 terrain the Meridian would find it harder to keep up with the more capable Fortuner. Hard core off-roading is where the Fortuner would truly shine, specially given its superior ground clearance.

# No independent manual DPF switch was noticed in the Meridian - would have to think twice if ever high altitude driving/off-roading is to be done. You can manually carry out DPF cleaning as and when you wish at the press of a button. This may give you better control in keeping the DPF clean when driving in challenging high-altitude oxygen depleted terrain.

Axe77’s comparison review:

# Visually, while the Fortuner definitely is the larger more imposing vehicle, the Meridian too holds its own next to the big daddy of BOF SUVs.
# Both cars look solidly built and inspire confidence.
# On the inside, its the Meridian that has the richer interior without a doubt. Despite the Fortuner having moved the game forward on the interiors front, it still feels more UTE than urban plush crossover.
# MID cockpit is analog compared to the more modern digital console of the Meridian.
# Storage in the centre is a lot more limited in the Fortuner compared to the Meridian.
# Start the car and the first thing that hit me is the heaviness of the steering and drive. In strict comparison terms, you need to 'work' the steering a lot more in the Fortuner at slow speeds than the car-like easy feel of the Meridian. Overall, the Meridian is a far 'easier' car to pilot than the more heavy duty Fortuner.
# Around the twisties, I predictably felt a lot more confident throwing the Meridian around than the big Toyota.
# Power however is seamless in both, with the Fortuner having the obvious edge. Where the Meridian might hesitate at the word go, the Fortuner is like a wave of never ending torque. But power is just one factor that contributes to driving attributes and I found it easier to push the Meridian given its superior ride and handling than I did with the Fortuner.
# The Fortuner has useful power modes (ECO / Nomal / Sport) with the added boon of paddle shifters. This is one of my single biggest gripes with the Meridian. It really should have been equipped with driving modes as well as paddle shifters. A HUGE miss for the Jeep.
# I have limited inputs on the rear seat experience since we were swapping cars and only driving for this test drive.
# Braking is equally strong in both cars is what I felt. I think RSD found the Fortuner superior on this front.
# Steering does not have the same sharpness of the Meridian.
# The big Toyota absolutely demolishes any bumps or breaks in the road, showing its class on this front. Despite the Meridian being pretty competent on the suspension front, the Fortuner just smothers everything that comes its way and you barely feel broken roads in this behemoth.
# In terms of managing the dimensions, I found both equally manageable. I used to be a bit overwhelmed by the Fortuner's size earlier but having driving the Meridian now for a few weeks, piloting both these full size SUVs is not that difficult.
# The Fortuner's indestructible and imposing stance does mean that people tend to get out of your way in a manner the Meridian is unlikely to ever command.
# Despite being the larger, heavier and bigger engine, it seems from early mileage tests that the Fortuner is not at any disadvantage on the fuel efficiency front. I’m hoping the Meridian FE will creep closer to the double digit mark over a period of time.

All in all, while I can completely understand people's love for the Fortuner, my test drive left me convinced that this is not the product that suits my driving style or needs.

Comparison via pictures


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-fb4ba98451604253a21983c8effaf3c9.jpeg

The Fortuner definitely carries a more imposing look, although the Meridian doesn't look insubstantial next to it and manages to hold its own.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-mer-fort-pic-collage.jpeg

Close ups from different angles. The Legender has come a long way from previous generation Fortuners.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-mer-fort-b2b.jpeg

The two vehicles parked alongside for length perspective.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-fort-meri-bw-image.jpeg

Aamby valley + MH monsoons create the perfect combo for car photography.


My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-5d1b102b5a4c4741930a9cdf687dd0c0.jpeg

The all important manual regeneration switch for DPF regeneration, mentioned in the Fortuner owner’s notes. The Meridian does not seem to have this manual regen option and I need to read up on the DPF related tech to understand the possible implications of missing this aspect. If the only way to carry out manual regen is to drive the car for 3 mins at 100 kmph then that’s not really a practical solution in my view.


Last edited by Axe77 : 28th June 2022 at 11:21. Reason: Minor edit: missing text
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Old 26th June 2022, 11:17   #7
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Rapid Fire Round: The Meridian FAQs

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Too busy to read the detailed ownership review? Well here’s a randomised selection of Q&A that I’ve put out there which might address some popular (or not so popular questions).


Q: Top descriptors for the Meridian?
A: Fast, Smooth, Solid, Plush, Stable, Overpriced

Q: Same engine as the Compass! Is it slower than the Compass Diesel A/T then?
A: No! Power delivery felt the same and the engine refinement in fact felt smoother than the Compass, perhaps due to its slightly tweaked tuning.

Q: Is it overpriced?
A: For sure. At least by 3 - 4 lakh. This is going to be the biggest hurdle that will stand in the way of the Meridian's success. Jeep is between a rock and a hard place having overreached on pricing at launch itself and this is going to hurt this model for a while to come. They should have priced this to sell to start with and then explored how much more the market is willing to pay through creeping hikes.

Q: Is it underpowered? Is it fun to drive? Is the gearbox a deal breaker?
A: It is FAST. It is FUN TO DRIVE. Not designed for drag racing though if that’s what tickles your fancy. The gearbox will not give you fast kick-downs on demand, nor is it blazing fast like a DSG. But it is neither dim-witted nor is it a deal-breaker. Power is smooth and linear and despite my other ride being a remapped BMW 3 GT, I still find the Meridian a fun, fast car to drive (not GT levels of fast but great fun regardless). The fact that it handles well too only helps its FTD quotient.

Q: What about the interiors? Plush?
A: The interiors are excellent - mostly plush, with a few 'mediocre' bits but nothing that feels too downmarket.

Q: Is it a 3 row people mover?
A: No. This is a spacious two row car, which can occasionally seat a few kids for short distances. If you want a three row people mover, better options are the likes of an Innova, Carnival, Gloster and Fortuner to name a few. The Jeep third row is likely comparable to options like Kodiaq and VW Tiguan Allspace.

Q: What about the fuel efficiency?
A: Given me about 7 - 8 kmpl in mixed cycle running but this is just the first two tank fills. More on this over a longer duration of ownership.

Q: Any squeaks and rattles?
A: A hint of some very minor squeaks. I think. But again, nothing troublesome. Definitely NO RATTLES.

Q: Suspension? Body roll?
A: Brilliant suspension and handling. Smothers bumps all around just like a BOF but still carries the monocoque handling and ride quality superiority. The car is rock solid and planted even on fast curves. There is some pitching and rolling on bad city roads at low speeds - more than what you’d feel on a Tucson but not as prominent as you’d find in say a Fortuner or even an Innova.

Q: What’s the 80 / 120 beep like?
A: Muted. If the music is on, the 80 beep is barely audible. Hope I can live with it but if not, I’ll have to find a way to disable it.

Q: Does it have presence?
A: Yes it does. Not that I have cared much about it in my cars. As long as it looks pleasing, I’m not in a competition of which vehicle is bigger or more imposing. Do check out the side by side pics in the Fortuner comparo for ready context.

Q: Music system?
A: Its great but not mind blowing. Needs a bit of tweaking to get the best out of it.

Q: What about the 4x4 system
A: Haven’t tried it yet, personally. From what I’ve seen from online reviews, its very capable although on pure hard-core depth of capability, I’m sure the Fortuner would trump this.

Q: How's the ride & handling?
A: Excellent. Ride quality and handling is great at both moderate speed city driving conditions as well as high speed highway cruising.

Q: Who's the target audience then?
A: I think this works well for people looking at a spacious, sophisticated and mature two row vehicle with plenty of luggage room for traveling. Its a great size to manage in the city and will still be a rock solid, comfortable mile munching machine on the highway, with diesel efficiency to boot. If the Compass is too small for you, the Fortuner too bulky or just too UTE, and the Kodiaq too thirsty (or unreliable), then this is yet another alternative to consider. I seriously doubt buyers would regret the purchase unless the reliability and service experience turn out to be crummy. I'll have to wait and see on that last bit - fingers crossed!

x———x———x ———x

That's all from me for now folks. I'll be sure to keep this thread regularly updated with my experiences. My driving experience is still limited and as this increases as well as the car opens up a bit more post running in, I will be open to revisiting / elaborating on any of the opinions and observations if deemed necessary. I will also regularly update my experience on the reliability and service front, whether its good or bad, either way.

Until then, please do feel free to ask any questions and I'll be happy to address them as best as I can.

Last edited by Axe77 : 28th August 2022 at 16:51.
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Old 28th June 2022, 10:00   #8
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th June 2022, 10:43   #9
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Default re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

The most informative, single post (series) ownership review ever on team-bhp. No questions left to ask, other than wishing you many lakh kilometers with this severely under-rated beast.
Period
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Old 28th June 2022, 10:55   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
The all important manual regeneration switch for DPF regeneration, mentioned in the Fortuner ownerís notes. The Meridian does not seem to have this manual regen option and I need to read up on the DPF related tech to understand the possible implications of missing this aspect. If the only way to carry out manual regen is to drive the car for 3 mins at 100 kmph then thatís not really a practical solution in my view.
May be too early to comment authoritatively - but I saw DPF regeneration only once in the last 4500kms on my Compass. This was when I took delivery post the detailing and PPF session - so I believe they may have left the car at idle for long.

Regeneration symbol was on for about 15 minutes of regular driving and disappeared promptly. Average speed would have been ~30km/h, given the state of Kerala roads and highways.

Also the liquid is still more than 1/3rd tank, so I guess a refill at the 5000kms mark is all that is needed for now.
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Old 28th June 2022, 13:41   #11
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Default Re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Phenomenal review, Axe77! Wishing you 10 fun years & a minimum of 150,000 happy km with your Meridian. I spent a weekend with the Meridian and quite liked the SUV. Has a personality for sure, love Jeep's solid build & mature suspension tune, and the Diesel AT gets a 7 / 10 rating from me. It's not the brightest of gearboxes, but does the job without any major complaints. The cabin was a nice place to be in when cruising around in the city.

The main problem is that Jeep became too optimistic and overpriced it by 3 - 4 lakhs. What they should have done (like the XUV700, EcoSport, Kodiaq Facelift etc.) is first launch it at an irresistible price and then, gradually increase it (or not) based on demand. The competition (Fortuner, Kodiaq etc.) is also overpriced, but the difference is, they first established a reputation and then went for overpricing.

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-20220625-10.49.56.jpg

My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review-20220625-10.43.13.jpg
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Old 29th June 2022, 00:21   #12
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Default Re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Excellent review! It's as comprehensive as the official T-BHP reviews. Congratulations on your first SUV, you made a good decision!

I drove the Meridian recently and definitely found that it was tuned to a higher level of refinement than the Compass too. I'm not sure if this is because of the longer wheel base, a different suspension set up or some other wizardry that's gone on.

I also agree with you that the Meridian has its own distinctive look and feel. The differences at the front although very subtle, are extremely effective and give it a much more handsome face. And the sides and rear, are as good as a completely different car.

The price is a bit on the higher side for sure, but space, size and the third row definitely make a good case.

Last edited by Porcupine : 29th June 2022 at 00:25.
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Old 29th June 2022, 09:48   #13
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Default Re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Lovely review, not many questions left to be asked after so many details.

Loved the comparison (with pictures) with the Compass and Fortuner. Will clear doubts for many people in one go itself!

Wishing you lakhs of happy kilometres with the Jeep!
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Old 29th June 2022, 09:55   #14
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Default Re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by achyutaghosh View Post
The most informative, single post (series) ownership review ever on team-bhp. No questions left to ask, other than wishing you many lakh kilometers with this severely under-rated beast.
Thank you for the kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
Regeneration symbol was on for about 15 minutes of regular driving and disappeared promptly. Average speed would have been ~30km/h, given the state of Kerala roads and highways.
Thanks CD. I inquired on the JWW owners group as well and some informed me that it basically does an auto regeneration and it happens at normal driving speeds as well. It doesn’t have to be at high speed cruising as suggested by some. I’ll watch out for my own experience with this and post it here. I’m assuming there is some light that comes on, on the MID when this is happening. Need to check the Manual to remind myself what that symbol is as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The main problem is that Jeep became too optimistic and overpriced it by 3 - 4 lakhs. What they should have done (like the XUV700, EcoSport, Kodiaq Facelift etc.) is first launch it at an irresistible price and then, gradually increase it (or not) based on demand. The competition (Fortuner, Kodiaq etc.) is also overpriced, but the difference is, they first established a reputation and then went for overpricing.
100% with you on this GTO and exactly in line with my notes on pricing. They really should have done a conservative launch and a creeping hike. The Jeep’s mis-pricing has exacerbated the negative backlash against the product. Unfortunate but they asked for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
PRICING

For comparable variants, I don’t believe it warrants more than 2.5-3.5L total (at best) over an already richly priced Compass. It is definitely 4 - 5 lakh overpriced in that sense in my opinion.

Jeep should have priced the Meridian closer to this more realistic benchmark, gauged market reaction and then, if needed, done a creeping price hike over a period of time, calibrated to customer response. Right now, they've left themselves between a rock and a hard place on pricing. Models that don't succeed at launch tend to stutter for much longer periods and Jeep executives have their work cut out to turn this around from here.

If you are choosing your steed from within the entire Fortuner / VAG etc segment, then you may need to see the pricing in that context, although the difference is that the above brands earned their chops over several years to get to their current pricing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Porcupine View Post
Excellent review!

I drove the Meridian recently and definitely found that it was tuned to a higher level of refinement than the Compass too.

The price is a bit on the higher side for sure, but space, size and the third row definitely make a good case.
Thanks very much. Indeed even my pal who drives the Compass AT felt the smoothness right off the bat. I felt it immediately in both my test drives too. This is a really nice improvement in my opinion.

Once you dissociate the product attributes from the price and judge it on abilities alone, it makes a compelling enough proposition for many use cases. Its just that the overpricing aspect queers the pitch in many people’s minds (understandably so).

Quote:
Originally Posted by CEF_Beasts View Post
Loved the comparison (with pictures) with the Compass and Fortuner. Will clear doubts for many people in one go itself!
Thank you CEF. Comparisons with both the Compass and the Fortuner are abound and obviously on many people’s mind.

I thought a pictoral reference is handy as well as the opinions of owners of each of these vehicles (as well as my opinion as an owner of a Meridian). I really hope readers find this helpful.

Last edited by Axe77 : 29th June 2022 at 09:57.
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Old 29th June 2022, 10:41   #15
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Default Re: My First SUV | The Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic | Initial Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
Jeep Meridian 4x4 Limited (O) Automatic
1. Skoda Kodiaq
# Reliability:
This is a big one. I want a car that occupies minimal mind space 365 days a year. Even if I allocate a pre-set monetary budget for unforeseen issues, I simply don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to deal with service stations on out of ordinary issues. This continues to play on my mind every time there is a VAG car under consideration. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Jeep will not disappoint on this front, although their reputation is also a mixed bag - this is a calibrated call I’ve taken against the almost certain screw-over that brand VAG promises.
Fantastic in-depth review with very good perspectives (and comparisons). Gives a lot of clarity on what we get (or not get) from the same manufacturer while they position their vehicles in the market; given that I have a Compass.
On the context of Skoda Kodiaq, I found a Kodiaq being serviced in the Jeep workshop in Kolkata, and got to know that a few having Kodiaqs take them there rather than to a VAG workshop.

Last edited by car-go : 29th June 2022 at 10:42. Reason: more clarity
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