Jeep Meridian: A Toyota Fortuner owner’s perspective
Had the Compass been priced at par with the Harrier/Hector, Jeep India would’ve had space for the Meridian to go up against the Safari and XUV700.
BHPian CEF_Beasts recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
Jeep Meridian Limited (O) 4X2 AT Test-drive Experience
Wanted to check the Meridian and feel how the ride quality and engine performance is in comparison with the 2022 Fortuner.
- Solid build quality, tank-like feeling while sitting inside.
- Smothers the worst of roads, and rounds of speedbreaks and big potholes with aplomb, the Fortuner just can’t do the same at city speeds.
- 4X2 AT in the Meridian not available with the Compass, gives more options to the customer to choose from.
- Easy to drive, masks it’s size well from behind the wheel, just doesn’t feel like a 4796mm long SUV.
- A brilliant SUV for someone looking for a sedate highway cruiser, that can return great fuel economy and at the same time be rock steady at highway speeds.
- A brilliant and light steering wheel that weighs up well as speed increases. Touched 100 kmph, the car was very composed and unfazed.
- Not a single rattle or squeak from any corner from the car, as compared to the Compass, where owners are now beyond frustrated.
- Braking is strong and sure-footed.
- One guy passing in another car while I was taking a u-turn was just gazing with his mouth open at the Meridian, as if he saw a supercar on the road. Looks like many people are still to get to know that a Jeep Meridian exists as well, in comparison to the Compass.
- The engine and gearbox tuning is far from ideal, the gearbox is slow to respond. The engine was feeling strained at part-throttle with only 2 people ( the SA and me). This was the 4X2 AT, I wonder how the 4X4 AT will feel like with the added weight. The Fortuner’s 2.8L motor in Eco mode (forget the Sport mode) can eat the Meridian’s 2.0L motor for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Had taken a test-drive of the Fortuner 4X4 AT just 2 weeks back and can’t forget the Eco mode of the Fortuner where it picked up great speeds at even 10% throttle inputs.
- Space is a big issue inside the cabin, the first row width is just about adequate. The dashboard gives the Compass feel and then you remember how the Compass is cramped for its price.
- In the second row, with the front seat adjusted to my height, the legroom is alright but the headroom is clearly lacking.
- The Jeep SA was boasting of the safety features, but something as basic as a 3-pointer seatbelt and headrest is lacking for the ‘middle/third’ passenger in the middle row.
- The third row is completely useless, one look at it and I didn’t even want to sit in it.
- The backrest of the 3rd row is massive, haven’t seen such a huge one in any car! And it clearly hampers the rearward visibility from the IRVM.
- Doesn’t get the same respect as a Fortuner on the road, flash your high beam in the Fortuner and people simply move away, nothing of that sort in the Meridian.
Coming back to the most awaited question: Meridian VS Fortuner
I have said it a lot of times in the various full size 7 seater SUV polls conducted till now. A monocoque SUV prospective customer isn’t going to look at a BoF SUV and vice-versa.
The Meridian’s strong points are it’s brilliant highway cruising capabilities with rock-solid stability and the tank-like feeling inside the cabin.
The engine just pulls the overall experience down! This engine has no business doing business in a 41-45 Lakh car, period! A 20-27 Lakh Harrier gets the same engine. Seems like FCA wants the public to term the 2.0L MJD as the national engine as well similar to the 1.3L MJD, only difference being this time across a wide price bracket as well!!
My pick overall will continue to be the regular version of the Fortuner which costs 4-5 Lakh more OTR than the 4X4 AT Limited (O) Meridian.
Things in favour of the Fortuner:
- A much wider variants and engine choice available.
- Better space in all 3 rows, no comparison.
- Reliability and after sales king! Had written a mail to TKM for a small part, which has gone bad after 8 years in my Fortuner and my dad in whose name the car is registered got a phone call immediately asking about the issue and how they would help solve it at the earliest. This is the Toyota after-sales experience for a 8 year old car, which no manufacturer can still come close to.
- More rugged and abuse friendly, can do the Leh-Ladakh like treacherous terrains ‘N’ number of times and still come back as if it was just a ride across the plains.
- The updated engine is an absolute killer! Eco mode is more than adequate for a quick overtake at most times.
- Out on the highway the Fortuner is an absolute mile-muncher, can do 1000kms and still come out fresh!
Things against the Fortuner:
- The biggest dealbreaker for anyone is going to be the ride quality in the city. This is where the Jeep scores big time!!
- Price!!! The Fortuner has gone from a 20 Lakh SUV to a 60 Lakh SUV and how!
But as long as other manufacturers continue to get products that compromise some where or other in comparison to the Fortuner, especially in the power department the ‘T’ badge will continue selling unfazed. Can’t believe it’s that hard to dethrone the Fortuner in our market…
Had the Compass been priced at par with the Harrier/Hector, Jeep India would’ve had space for the Meridian to go up against the Safari and XUV700. Had Jeep priced the Meridian close to the Safari (with whom it shares it’s engine) and XUV700, my pick would’ve been the Meridian eyes closed.
Unfortunately at a price that is very close to the Fortuner, the Meridian will go unnoticed in the market.
PS: Had a wonderful experience at Sky Moto Jeep, Wakad. The SA was really welcoming and arranged a test-drive quickly eventhough he was busy with a customer’s Compass delivery. Will rate the overall showroom experience 9/10. And the SA even without asking for a long test-drive offered one, to showcase the car’s highway cruiser nature.
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