2023 VinFast VF 8 Review and Test Drive

The VinFast VF 8 is the first Vietnamese car in America, but is it ready for the big leagues?

Front three-quarter view of a green 2023 Vinfast VF 8 parked near the coastPerry Stern

Review QuickTakes:

America imports vehicles from all over the world, with new models in the U.S. market from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and more. But until now, a Vietnamese car has never been sold in the States. That changes with the arrival of the 2023 VinFast VF 8.

A stylish five-seat crossover SUV, the 2023 VF 8 is fully electric with solid performance and a roomy interior. But entering the heart of the electric vehicle (EV) market is a challenge even for established brands, and most U.S. consumers have never heard of VinFast. Nevertheless, the new VinFast VF 8 will face off against strong competitors such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Nissan Ariya, Tesla Model Y, and Volkswagen ID.4.

The VF 8 has a lot riding on its success, as VinFast has plans for three more EVs to arrive in the U.S. over the next few years. Unfortunately, while the VF 8 demonstrates some compelling attributes, VinFast needs to improve a few things before this new model sullies the automaker's name in the U.S.

 Rear three-quarter view of a green 2023 Vinfast VF 8 parked near the coastPerry Stern

VinFast launches the VF 8 as the limited-production City Edition in Eco or Plus trim. After the company sells these, the VF 8 Standard Eco and Standard Plus are set to carry the torch, equipped with an upgraded battery. Base prices range from the high $40,000s to the mid-$50,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from VinFast's Haiphong, Vietnam, factory to your local retailer. Note that the City Edition will be offered exclusively as a lease, and currently, VinFast vehicles are available only in California.

VinFast invited me to San Diego, California, to drive the all-new VF 8 and paid for travel, food, and lodging expenses. For this VinFast VF 8 review, I test-drove an early production version of the City Edition Plus. The vehicle had no additional options, and the manufacturer's suggested retail price was $57,200, including the $1,200 destination charge.

2023 Vinfast VF 8 interior, front seats, and dashboardPerry Stern

2023 VinFast VF 8 Review: The Design

Seemingly countless five-occupant crossovers are available, but the new VinFast VF 8 stands out thanks to stylish looks courtesy of the legendary Pininfarina design studio.

Details include a unique V-shape (V for VinFast) light bar connecting the slim LED headlights, and large V logos reside front and center and on the rear liftgate. The roofline flows smoothly from the windshield base to the spoiler on the rear hatch, and the 20-inch wheels fit well with the proportions. Unfortunately, the back bumper design makes the VF 8 look like it's squatting at the rear as if overloaded with passengers or cargo.

Inside the VF 8, the large 15.6-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard immediately draws the eye. Similar to a Tesla Model Y, there are no gauges or a separate digital instrument cluster in front of the driver.

2023 Vinfast VF 8 interior, back seatsPerry Stern

All information appears on the center screen or the driver's head-up display, and the only physical control is a stereo volume knob. In addition, there is no start button. Instead, the VF 8 comes to life simply by entering the EV with the key fob, and it automatically shuts off when you depart.

While having just one physical display takes some getting used to, it does create a clean cabin design. Most interior surfaces are soft to the touch, and the materials provide a premium vibe.

VinFast wraps the front seats in a synthetic leather trim that could easily pass for the real thing, and while the upholstery is plush, the seat cushions are rather stiff with a hard seatback. However, after some time in the VF 8, I found the seats provided good support. And while there wasn't much padding, they weren't uncomfortable.

: 2023 Vinfast VF 8 interior, rear cargo area with backpack insidePerry Stern

The VF 8 supplies a spacious rear seat with good legroom and headroom. You won't find much side bolstering, but the second row is reasonably comfortable. Many EVs can have flat interior floors, thanks to powertrain layouts that require fewer components than their gasoline-drinking counterparts. However, the VF 8's cabin still has a hump in the middle, limiting leg space for the rear-center passenger. Three USB ports provide power for mobile devices, and the heated outboard seats deliver added comfort.

By appearances, VinFast doesn't skimp when it comes to cargo space. The roomy-looking area can easily handle multiple pieces of luggage, and if more volume is needed, the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split. VinFast does not provide measurements for the cargo area. However, the company claims the VF 8 can haul up to 992 pounds of payload, including passengers. In addition, there is more storage available in the front trunk (frunk).

2023 Vinfast VF 8 center display depicting advanced driver-assistance systems settingsPerry Stern

2023 VinFast VF 8 Review: The Technology

There may be only one screen in the VF 8's cabin, but the unit is large enough to be divided into sections. The left side of the display is dedicated to vehicle operational information with speed, gear selected, and drive modes. Battery status and available range appear in this area as well.

Oddly enough, this is also where you find the controls to adjust the panoramic sunroof and rear hatch, as well as the mirrors and steering wheel, but you use buttons on the steering wheel to alter its position. This interface could be more intuitive, but it is functional. Fortunately, the VF 8's climate controls are displayed in a static state at the bottom of the screen for quick access.

The infotainment system is app-based, and the icons on the display look similar to an iPhone. They are large and easy to read, and all entertainment choices are internet-based, such as streaming services including iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Currently, SiriusXM satellite radio is unavailable on the VF 8.

However, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and you connect wirelessly. Syncing my Samsung Galaxy S21 was a simple task, and Android Auto launched immediately, filling the right side of the display. With this setup, it was easy to return to the VinFast native system. Unfortunately, using the touchscreen can be frustrating because the screen's reaction time is relatively slow, sometimes requiring a second click on a selection to get it to work.

 2023 Vinfast VF 8 center display depicting Pet ModePerry Stern

The VF 8 features Amazon Alexa, which activates when the driver says "Alexa." Using a proven system like Alexa for voice interaction is a smart move for this new car. The voice control works to open the windows and sunroof, check the weather, set a destination, and for other functions.

One of my favorite features is Pet Mode. Selecting Pet Mode turns on the air conditioning and leaves it on while you're away from the vehicle. A message on the screen reads: "Please don't worry! The climate is still on to make sure my pet is comfortable. I'll be back shortly."

VinFast equips all VF 8s with the latest advanced driving assistance systems. In addition to the expected standard features, the VF 8 also gets a Highway Driving Assist system. Highway Driving Assist uses the VF 8's adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist systems to maintain a set speed and a safe distance from vehicles ahead and to center the EV in its travel lane, even on curving roads.

2023 Vinfast VF 8 center display depicting advanced driver-assistance systems settingsPerry Stern

This system is not a hands-free technology, and a few seconds after I let go of the steering wheel, an alert reminded me to put my hands back on the rim. Overall, I found the VinFast Highway Driving Assist system works well on a variety of freeways, highways, and two-lane back roads.

2023 Vinfast VF 8 in gray powering up at a public electric vehicle charging station in a parking lotPerry Stern

2023 VinFast VF 8 Review: The Drive

My VinFast VF 8 City Edition Plus test vehicle had a dual-motor all-wheel-drive electric powertrain putting out 402 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. According to the specs released by the company, the VF 8 will sprint to 62 mph in 5.5 seconds. Based on my experience, this figure seems realistic, as the VF 8 feels quick off the line.

With its 82-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, VinFast estimates the VF 8 City Edition Plus supplies a 191-mile driving range, considerably lower than many rivals. The EPA rates the VF 8 Plus at 80 MPGe in combined driving, or consumption of 42 kWh of energy per 100 miles. Plug the EV into a 250-kW DC fast charger, and VinFast says the battery should recharge from 10% to 70% in less than 24 minutes.

During my evaluation, the trip computer indicated I traveled 2.4 mi/kWh (or 41.7 kWh/100 mi). That converts to 81 MPGe, so the EPA rating seems accurate. However, the 191-mile driving range estimate might be too conservative. With a 96% battery charge remaining, the VF 8 test vehicle showed I had 255 miles of range.

 2023 Vinfast VF 8 in green parked along the side of a road, front three-quarter anglePerry Stern

With quick acceleration and silent performance, the VF 8 delivers the qualities typically associated with electric vehicles. However, I found the VF 8 challenging to drive smoothly. With an overly sensitive accelerator pedal that acted almost like an on/off switch, the power proved difficult to modulate.

Trying to maintain a steady 40 mph was also a challenge, the VF 8 constantly accelerating then slowing as I tried (unsuccessfully) to hold the accelerator pedal in a steady position. Unfortunately, the SUV's soft suspension amplified this behavior as I rocked forward and back in my seat, further altering the pressure I put on the accelerator pedal.

The suspension delivers a reasonably comfortable ride, but rough or undulating pavement causes the SUV to bounce excessively. In addition, the VF 8 takes some time to settle after the road smooths out, which is rather unsettling.

: 2023 Vinfast VF 8 in blue parked along the side of a beachside road, rear three-quarter anglePerry Stern

Despite this behavior, I took an opportunity to push the VF 8 on some twisty back roads outside of San Diego. While the grip was decent and the steering offered good feedback, the VinFast exhibited too much body roll, chipping away at my confidence in the VF 8's handling abilities.

Like many EVs, the VinFast VF 8 offers a one-pedal driving function that allows a driver to operate the vehicle without using the brake pedal. When you lift your foot off the accelerator, aggressive regenerative braking slows the VF 8 to a complete stop as long as you've turned off the "creep mode."

No, creep mode doesn't repel unwanted attention from other people. Instead, it allows the VF 8 to move forward slowly after you remove your foot from the brake pedal, like in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. When creep mode is off, the VF 8 doesn't creep forward. But, unfortunately, it rolls backward when you lift your foot from the brake pedal. I came within inches of rolling into the car behind me before reapplying the brakes.

2023 Vinfast VF 8 in green parked along the side of a road and near a small dune, side profile viewPerry Stern

Is the 2023 VinFast VF 8 a Good Electric SUV?

Launching an all-new brand and an all-new model in the U.S. market is difficult. Based on my first experience driving the new VinFast VF 8, the Vietnamese company has some issues to iron out.

As it stands, the VF 8 would rank low on my list of recommended electric vehicles: the accelerator calibration makes it challenging to drive smoothly, the suspension needs additional tuning, and the estimated driving range for the Plus with the dual-motor drive system is below 200 miles. In addition, the vehicle does not qualify for the EV federal income tax credit.

With that said, the VF 8 delivers a pleasing style, a spacious interior, good utility with excellent storage throughout the cabin, and a large cargo area. VinFast has gotten several of the basics right in its VF 8. Still, with a price approaching $60,000 and robust competition in the five-seat electric crossover SUV segment, VinFast needs to polish the VF 8 before it's ready for the big leagues .

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Perry Stern
I have loved cars and trucks since childhood, and that fascination with anything that drives is just as strong today. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to become an automotive journalist, and during the past three decades, I have driven, written about, and photographed all manner of automobiles ranging from affordable econocars to exotic supercars. With the idea that there is a perfect car, truck, or SUV for everyone, my goal is to help consumers determine the right one for their wants and needs.