Automakers always hope to make a splash at auto shows like LA’s, and the newest Jeep Compass did exactly that—literally. Descending a ramp, it crashed through a pool of water, announcing its new look to the packed house.

At first glance, this second-generation Compass takes a hard turn towards the rest of the Jeep family’s aesthetic, leaving the rather anemic first version’s sheet-metal behind. Pulling onto the stage, the Compass showed off a traditional clam-shell hood with a center bulge. Its sides have risen towards the beltline, and the defined angles suggest a much more powerful version of this entry-level Jeep model.

Once I had a look at the specs, it was obvious the look does indeed match the new tech offerings. It will be available with Jeep Active Drive, which offers decent 4WD capability, and that’s at the low end of entry (there will be four trim packages offered).

For the first time there will also be a Trailhawk Edition offered. This elevates the Compass more towards a “real” Jeep, with Selec-Terrain control; a low-range 20:1 crawl ratio; skid plates and tow hooks; hill-descent control; and aggressive 17-inch off-road tires.

Powering the Compass will be the 2.4-litre Tigershark inline-four engine pushing 180 horsepower through a nine-speed automatic transmission. This engine is said to have an estimated highway fuel consumption of 7.8 L/100 km.

The base Compass will use an Aisin six-speed automatic, and that same base “Sport and North” Edition will also be available with a six-speed standard transmission.

2017 is the 75 anniversary of the Jeep and Fiat Chrysler is making the most of the momentum this brand has been enjoying for several years now.

Certainly the look of this newest Compass is stressing its shared heritage with models like the Cherokee and Wrangler. This is important for the domestic market and also for the international one, where Jeep is making big sales.

Later this year a Jeep pickup is on the way, another sign FCA will be pushing the brand hard. Having seen the new Compass, I’d say they are pushing in the right direction.