Jeep Meridian Overland review
Last year, when Jeep introduced the Meridian, we envisioned it as a more refined monocoque seven-seat SUV, poised to challenge the dominance of the Toyota Fortuner. However, the Fortuner stands in a league of its own, and with an astonishing price point that escalates with each new iteration, it needs a much bigger budget. The Meridian sits in a spot that slots between the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and the Citroen C5 Aircross at the lower end, both monocoque diesel SUVs and at the higher end, the more refined Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan with their silky smooth petrol TSI engines. The Meridian needed to find a place for itself and the new Jeep strategy is to offer a more premium variant that backs its capability off the road.
Styling and interior of the Jeep Meridian Overland
On the exterior you get a chrome grille instead of black painted grille on the Limited variants, new five spoke alloy wheels that look nice and chunky however, the 235/55 R18 tyres look so undertyred on this massive 7-seat SUV. In profile, the gaping space in the wheel wells practically beg for a stylish set of 19-inchers. Additional exterior tweaks include a shark fin antenna and a rear spoiler.
Venture inside, and the Meridian's transformation becomes apparent. There’s a beautiful suede lining on the dashboard that takes the premiumness of the cabin up a notch and it's backed by copper colour inserts that make the interior more regal than any SUV you can buy in this segment. That suede lining goes on to the door trim and the seat upholstery as well, which combined with brown leather, creates an inviting ambience that sets the Meridian apart from its competitors. It’s exactly what the Meridian needed to get your attention over the feature rich Tucson and the refined Tiguan and Kodiaq.
Performance, ride and handling of the Jeep Meridian Overland
The Meridian continues to be powered by the tried and tested 2-litre Multijet II diesel engine that makes 168bhp and 350Nm, and in the Overland, you can only choose the 9-speed AT gearbox for both the 4x2 and 4x4 variants. The engine is refined although you do hear it as the revs rise, but the copious amounts of soft touch materials and good damping soak in the drone of the diesel mill. The car in these pictures is the 4x4, employing the Selec-terrain AWD system with a 4-Low crawl ratio that uses the 1st gear in the 9AT. On the road, the Meridian starts in second gear at all times. Dynamics on a winding road are impressive considering the Meridian’s size and weight, with the FSD dampers doing a good job of ironing out undulations on imperfect roads. The brakes work very well too, but are sadly let down by the tyres, which squeal at the slightest dynamic demand from the driver. A larger tyre with a better compound will do the Meridian’s handling some good. While the Meridian is nimble for its size, it's not as agile as the Tiguan or the Kodiaq. The elevated seating position and solid feel behind the wheel, though, reinforce the Meridian's SUV identity.
Price and verdict of the Jeep Meridian Overland
The timing of the update in the Meridian is also right, considering the Tiguan and Kodiaq are going to be phased out in the near future for a new generation car, and the way the VW group works globally these days with lesser attention to the India market, we will probably have to wait for these two models much longer than how things panned out in the past.
The Overland is offered in two variants, 4x2 and 4x4. The 4x2 is priced at Rs 36.77 lakh ex-showroom and the 4x4 costs Rs 39.46 lakh, ex-showroom, the extra price you pay for the 4x4 hardware and nothing else. Almost three lakh rupees may seem steep but the Overland costs as much as a Skoda Kodiaq, the only other seven-seat offering in this segment, and it comes with better off-road ability and a diesel engine that is ideal for touring. Makes the Meridian Overland an interesting proposition to my eyes.