Many new automakers are springing up in the wake of the EV revolution, and one of the newest and most ambitious is VinFast from Vietnam. It has been making bold promises, like highly affordable luxury vehicles and the very first three-row electric SUV in the USA. Well, the 2023 VinFast VF9 may not be the first three-row EV, but it is part of a very small segment that includes the Mercedes-Benz EQB and Rivian R1S. Sadly, it is far more expensive than either, but with 402 horsepower, it promises more bite than the Merc. It also has a very extensive list of features, which some buyers might think warrants its massive price tag. But with no track record to speak of and first impressions of products launched in the USA being rather dismal, it is worth taking a closer look.
Seeing as the brand is just getting off the ground, the new VinFast VF9 electric SUV is the first of its name. It arrives in 2023 as an all-new car from the automaker.
VinFast originally aimed to provide the US with some of its most affordable EVs, with the hope of stealing customers out from under Tesla and more established names in the field. It intended to pioneer a battery subscription model to make it more affordable by separating the cost of the battery tech and the price of the car, but that's not available in the USA, and the pricing model's viability is still up in the air.
Instead, the starting price of the 2023 VinFast VF9 is set at $83,000 for the Eco model, while the Plus trim will cost you $91,000. So far, these MSRP figures are the only ones we know, and they don't account for the destination charge.
Both models are extremely well-equipped, but considering how expensive the VF9 is and the fact that the Plus brings the exact same performance to the table, along with a less impressive maximum range, we'd stick with the Eco. You still get the full suite of driver-assistance features, a large infotainment touchscreen, and a banging sound system. It also gets up to 369 miles of range.
At a glance, the interior looks premium, and there is a lot of space to go around, but the trunk is on the smaller side.
Breaking into the luxury segment is no easy task, especially for a brand-new automaker, so VinFast has tried to ensure that the interior of the VF9 looks the part. To that end, the cabin is awash with premium materials, but the design is stylishly minimalist. In fact, the dashboard and central console are almost entirely devoid of controls, aside from the large touchscreen interface. Some might prefer a few more buttons and knobs to control certain common features, but many EVs are embracing this buttonless futuristic concept.
Seeing as it is a three-row SUV, the VF9 should have plenty of interior space. The front seats are power adjustable and heated, and even the second row has power adjustability. Considering its massive length, there is even a decent amount of room in the very last row, which is quite uncommon for three-row SUVs. Getting inside is easy as both the step-in and roof are high enough for even tall adults, and the optional second-row captain's chairs on the Plus model make accessing the rear seats easier, but you still need to climb over the folded buckets.
The floor is particularly high in the third row, so taller folks may not want to spend a long trip in the back unless they like having their knees up to their chests.
VinFast has yet to announce just how much cargo space there is in the trunk. However, the car is over 200 inches long with a 124-inch wheelbase, so even with three rows of seats, you can expect a fair amount of room. The smaller VF 8 has between 13.2 and 48.4 cubes of cargo space, so we expect the bigger VF 9 to offer slightly more than that.
If you need to do more than light shopping with the VF 9, though, you can easily fold down the third row to create a spacious loading area. As the most premium model in the VinFast range, the trunk can be accessed via a hands-free function, and there is a button to close it automatically when you are done. The front trunk is quite small, but it does give you a little more space.
Around the cabin, small-item storage is not particularly impressive. The front row has a pair of cupholders, a small armrest cubby, and a subpar glove compartment. The bin under the touchscreen is quite deep and supports wireless charging, and there is a small shelf under the steering wheel. The second row also gets twin cupholders and a small cubby under the condole. Each of the four doors has a spacious door pocket, though.
|VinFast VF 9||Rivian R1S SUV||Mercedes-EQB SUV|
|7 Seater||7 Seater||7 Seater|
|TBA||41.1 in. front|
39.7 in. rear
|40.7 in. front |
38.5 in. rear
|TBA||41.4 in. front|
36.6 in. rear
|41.4 in. front |
38.1 in. rear
|TBA||17.6 - 88.2 ft³ trunk|
11.1 ft³ frunk
|10.7 - 61.8 ft³|
There are two upholstery options, but to switch between them, you need to change your trim level. The Eco gets synthetic leather, while the Plus gets the genuine article. We don't know exactly what interior colors will be offered, but based on test cars and press images, we expect a light brown and beige. Black will almost certainly be another color choice.
The dash and doors are lined with soft-touch materials, and there is an optional panoramic glass roof that extends all the way from the front to the third row.
The features list is extremely impressive, but that's not surprising considering just how much this car costs. The Eco comes with dual-zone climate control, power front and second-row seats, heating for the front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a smart key with keyless entry, multi-color ambient lights, and a 15.6-inch touchscreen. There is no gauge cluster, with the left-hand side of the display serving this function. Luckily, it is angled toward the driver.
True infotainment features include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and Wi-Fi, as well as video streaming and even video games. Sound is handled by a 13-speaker audio system, and there are plenty of phone connection and charging options. These include two USB ports for every row of seats and a wireless charger in the front. The Plus trim only adds a few new features, including tri-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, and a panoramic sunroof.
|Three-zone climate control|
|Heated front and second-row seats|
|Heated and ventilated first and second row with massage function|
|Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto|
VinFast does claim some good sprint times from its largest offering, but that's not uncommon among EVs, and it's not overly impressive.
The VinFast VF 9 comes equipped with two electric motors that make a combined 402 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, and like so many rivalr SUVs, it has all-wheel drive and a single-speed automatic transmission. The VinFast goes from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, according to the manufacturer, and the top speed is set at 124 mph.
The car has a decent amount of power that should make it feel strong despite the mediocre acceleration figures. We expect light and responsive steering, which is good when you discover that the turning circle is enormous - buyers should be aware of this when attempting a U-turn. The battery is located right in the middle of the car, which creates a solid center of gravity to help keep the car balanced around the bends, but you'll still need to respect the size of the vehicle.
As the VF 9 markets itself as a luxury vehicle, we hope the automaker has improved on the stiff, unpredictable, and twitchy feeling we had in the VF 8 - absorbing abrasions and keeping road noise out of the cabin are expectations for cars in this segment and price range.
While it comes equipped with a sizeable 123-kWh battery, the VF 9 is rather power-hungry. Thus, it only has a maximum range of 330 miles, which is pretty good for the segment. The heavier Plus trim can only manage 291 miles.
Charging from 10% - 70% takes 35 minutes on a DC fast charger, but the Level 2 times are as yet unknown.
Single Speed Automatic
|35 minutes from 10% - 70% DC fast charge|
No US safety organization has put the VF 9 through its paces, but the car comes with a staggering number of driver assists.
There is no official safety review for the VinFast VF 9, but both trims come with an extremely long list of standard features. Basic systems include a suite of 11 airbags, ABS, hill-start assist, rollover mitigation, as well as traction and stability control.
Meanwhile, driver assists comprise highway assist, traffic jam assist, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, lane centering, automatic lane changing assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot assist, intersection assist, a surround-view camera, and front and rear park assist. There are also some nifty automated systems like smart parking assist, remote parking assist, and a smart summon mode.
|Forward collision avoidance|
|Smart parking assist|
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
As a brand-new model from an automaker that has only recently been established, the reliability of the VinFast VF 9 is still unknown. Unfortunately, the company has had a bit of a bumpy road so far, with the VF 8 receiving a number of complaints for faulty software and a recall for a malfunctioning head unit display.
On the plus side, the 2023 VinFast VF 9 gets a great warranty that includes ten years/125,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and ten years for the battery with unlimited mileage.
It is essential for VinFast to make a big flashy splash in order to upset the status quo among more established EV automakers. To this end, it exhibits an extremely bold design. The front fascia shows off a distinctive nose that allows air to flow through and up over the windshield for improved aerodynamics. A V logo forms the bridge of the nose, and thin daytime running lights connect it to the LED headlights. The lower bumper is broad and concave, helping direct air into the side intakes.
At the back, there are LED taillights and a power-operated tailgate with hands-free access. The upper trim gets a panoramic glass roof. Standard wheels are 20 inchers, while the Plus gets slightly larger 21s and the option to equip 22-inch items.
The 2023 VF 9 definitely looks great, and as a brand-new model from an up-and-coming automaker, there is a lot of hype around the car. The interior is ultra-luxurious, and the number of standard features is staggering. In fact, you get a lot of tech that other luxury brands would make you pay extra for, especially in terms of driver assists. The overall performance is good, but not stellar, and the car will have its hands full trying to impress where its smaller sibling failed. Ride comfort will have to be superior to go up against the likes of Mercedes. The overall range of the VF 9 is not overly bad, but it's not up to scratch when you compare it to the Teslas the automaker was aiming to beat. Both the VinFast brand and its halo three-row SUV have potential, but some refinement is definitely needed before either can meet the goals they are aiming for. We'd say keep an eye on them for the next year or two before investing in such an expensive car.