Earlier this year, then president and MD of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) India, Partha Datta, told Autocar India about the automaker's plan to introduce a three-row Jeep SUV sometime in 2022. Now, parent company Stellantis India's CEO and MD Roland Bouchara has confirmed that the model's launch is on track. "With Jeep, we are going to launch a key UV [utility vehicle] model next year," he said in a recent interview with Autocar India, alluding to the debut of the seven-seat Jeep. As per our sources, production of the Meridian is expected to commence at Ranjangaon around April 2022, with a launch likely by July.
- Compass-derived Jeep Meridian set to launch in India by July 2022
- Known as the Commander in South American markets
- Expected to pack in a 200hp, mild-hybrid diesel
FCA has committed an investment of over $250 million (about Rs 1,870 crore), by the end of next year, towards the production of new models at its joint manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon, Pune, with the Meridian being a key addition. "We have to increase Jeep volumes and that’s what we are going to do next year with the new UV," said Bouchara.
Notably, India will also serve as the base for exporting the upcoming Jeep SUV to other RHD (right-hand drive) markets across the globe.
Jeep Meridian (Commander): what is it?
In August, Jeep took the covers off a new three-row SUV called the Commander for South American markets. The model is set to make its way to India under the Meridian moniker.
Based on the same underpinnings as the Compass, the new SUV has a considerably larger footprint than its five-seat counterpart in order to accommodate a third row of seats. There are a few design elements, like the front grille and window line, that establish a connect with the Compass. However, the Commander stands out with its more rectangular headlamps, bespoke bumper design, a longer wheelbase and rear overhang, an upright tailgate and slimmer tail-lamps.
Jeep has stressed in the past that despite the increased dimensions, the new model remains true to its DNA and packs in a certain degree of off-road ability expected from the brand's SUVs.
Inside the cabin, the Commander gets a design that apes the Compass, with a horizontally layered dashboard, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Though the company has revealed the Commander with a seven-seat layout for Brazil, the model is also expected to get a six-seat configuration for the Indian market.
Jeep Meridian (Commander): engine-gearbox details
In India, the Meridian will get the Compass' 2.0-litre diesel engine, albeit with power uprated from the current 173hp to around 200hp. As previously reported by us, the Meridian is also expected get a 48V mild-hybrid system. Transmission duties will be handled by a 9-speed automatic, with power being sent to all four wheels.
Jeep Meridian (Commander): price estimate and rivals
Expect the Meridian to command a decent premium over the Compass that is priced at Rs 17.29 lakh-28.84 lakh (ex-showroom, India). The Jeep will rival other three-row, monocoque-bodied SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and the upcoming petrol Skoda Kodiaq.