If you have ever thought of venturing out off the road but got scared of the dirt and stones messing up the shiny paintjob on your sedan, you aren’t alone. While a crude and barebones SUV is every boy’s dream, you realise that won’t go down well with the family who desire a certain level of sophistication. Is there a way to satisfy your 10 year old version’s dream while not getting kicked out from your home? Well, Jeep certainly thinks so, with their answer being the Meridian. Now, we have already established the sophistication part in our review, so now it is time for the fun part!
Tech Specs- Paper theory
The Meridian appears more than competent on paper- with a torquey motor and an effortless gearbox. It has been rated of being able to wade through 19 inches of water, which while not class leading is enough for fording through whatever streams and creeks you would dare throw at it. Beyond fording rivers, the Meridian also climbs hills very well with excellent approach and departure angles of 30 and 24 degrees respectively putting it ahead of even the Fortuner.
This is majorly thanks to the short front and rear overhangs, so rest assured you will comfortably reach your tea estate without an issue! The ramp breakover angle is rated at 25 degrees which is good though a long wheelbase and ground clearance of 203mm means these don’t become best-in-class numbers. The Meridian’s smaller sibling- the Compass Trailhawk is much better at solely tackling the rougher stuff, but your kids won’t get to join in on your trails!
In the Muck- Practicals
Enough of the brochure now, here’s our perspective behind the wheel. One thing that immediately stands out is the excellent ride quality and stability on the beaten path. We went over an obstacle where a ramp falls down after the car is driven over it and the Meridian remained very composed and stable in such a nervous situation.
Truly an admirable quality not present in bulkier rivals. We drove over chicken-hole obstacle as well to test the articulation which was pretty impressive for such a car. The entire course was a prime example of how sometimes, real-life scenarios can be completely different from what one would have thought on paper. Unfortunately, we could not test the water wading capabilities in the absence of a worthy obstacle on the trail.
Competition- The Exam
While the car did impress us, the rivals cannot be ignored. A particular fault in the Meridian is the lack of a 4×4 MT variant which can deter more hardcore junkies who wouldn’t dare touch an automatic. We also wish the motor had a bit more oomph- perhaps a higher tune of the engine to ensure better on-road performance.
The others also offer a hardy and more abuse-friendly body-on-frame construction. That said, there isn’t quite something like the Meridian which represents a near-perfect balance between Office and Off Road while ensuring you don’t have back pains and don’t have to sleep on the couch at night. The Meridian at Rs. 29.90 Lakhs also characterises better value than most of its rivals while having a dual-personality and doing its job very well. Modern and Mucky, it is for sure.