Sawasdee-kap. We’re reporting live from the 2017 Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS), and kicking things off is the all-new 2017 Honda CR-V, which is making its public debut here at Impact Muang Thong Thani after its official Thai launch last week. The latest iteration of Honda’s popular midsize SUV will be coming to Malaysia soon, and this serves as a preview of what’s to come.

It’s not just the old CR-V template wearing new clothes – this fifth-generation model has a third row of seats, making it seven in total. This is the first time that a CR-V has more than five seats, and it joins the T32 Nissan X-Trail in playing the 2-3-2 formation.

Both the second- and third-row seats are reclinable, with the former also being able to slide fore/aft. The second row also tumble folds out of the way to provide access to the third row, although it’s not one motion. As on US models (Thailand is the third country in the world to launch the CR-V after the US and Canada), there are air vents for the second row, but the third row gets unique vents on the roof, tour bus style.

The third row split folds 50:50, and the boot floor can be set in two positions – the higher position is to ensure a flat load area with the third row folded. The full size spare tyre is located inside the car, under the third row.

Up front, while the basic interior architecture of the Thai CR-V is similar to the US-market car – a “floating” centre stack, TFT LCD virtual instrument display and Civic-style three-spoke steering wheel are highlights – the regular automatic gearlever has been replaced by an NSX-style button selector, with the reverse button deeply recessed to prevent accidental operation. The ‘electronic gear selector’ is only for the diesel engine; the petrol version gets a normal gear lever (more on engines later).

The exterior design is also significantly more modern. Like the US car, the Thai-spec CR-V comes with optional LED headlights (nicely integrated into Honda’s Solid Wing Face corporate look), chunky wheel arches, an upswept D-pillar kink and L-shaped LED tail lights. Top-spec cars get turbine-style 18-inch six-spoke alloys (235/60 tyres); base variants get 17-inch items (235/65 tyres).

Also new for the CR-V in Thailand is a diesel engine option. The 1.6 litre N16 DOHC i-DTEC turbodiesel from the outgoing European-market model makes 160 hp at 4,000 rpm and 350 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. The oil burner is paired to a ZF nine-speed conventional automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, and comes with idle stop.

The i-DTEC should give the CR-V ample pulling power, but not everyone is comfortable with diesel. The starter petrol option is the carryover 2.4 litre K24 naturally-aspirated DOHC i-VTEC engine with 175 hp at 6,200 rpm and 225 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The Earth Dreams CVT gearbox has been carried over for the Thai-market previous-gen facelift (Malaysian cars are using a five-speed automatic).

Both engine options can be had with AWD, and there are two trim levels for each, making it four variants in total – 2.4 E 2WD, 1.6 Turbo E 2WD, 2.4 EL 4WD and 1.6 Turbo EL 4WD. Prices range from 1.399 million baht (RM179,511) to 1.699 million baht (RM217,974).

Standard kit on Thai CR-Vs include LED headlamps and daytime running lights, a powered tailgate, leather seats, digital meter with MID, smart key and push start, walk away auto lock, cruise control, eight-way powered driver’s seat with lumbar, Bluetooth, electronic parking brake, auto brake hold and six airbags.

Thais who move up to the EL trim level gain goodies such as auto headlamps and wipers, kick-operated handsfree access tailgate, 18-inch rims (up from 17-inch), wood trim (matte finish, smooth satin feel to it), dual-zone air con, four-way powered front passenger seat, seven-inch touchscreen head unit with navigation and Apple CarPlay, HDMI connector, LaneWatch and Driver Attention Monitor. Of course, there’s a full set of Modulo add-ons, which we will show you in a separate gallery later.

Honda Thailand expects 40% of CR-V buyers to opt for the costlier diesel engine – are Malaysians open-minded enough to accept the i-DTEC in significant numbers? We’re guessing no, so expect the 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine from the Civic to be our Melaka-assembled range topper. Like what you see?