With its low stateside profile and somewhat odd name (it's an acronym based on Vietnamese words, not a play on weight-loss milkshakes), VinFast may seem like a longshot in the burgeoning EV market. But that's only if you don't know it's part of Vingroup, which is Vietnam's largest conglomerate with seemingly infinite capital. In short, VinFast means business, and the three-row 2023 VinFast VF 9 crossover SUV will be its flagship model on our shores, slotting in above the two-row VF 8. As the EV SUV race ramps up, the VF 9 will definitely be one to watch.
That the VF 9 is a three-row electric SUV is notable in itself, as there aren't many of those on sale. As of this writing, in fact, there are only two: Tesla's Model X and Model Y. New entrants in the works include the Rivian R1S and the Lucid Gravity, but if the VF 9 debuts at the end of 2022 as scheduled, it will still be one of the first three-row electric SUVs you can buy.
Of course, not all three-row SUVs are created equal when it comes to passenger space, as any adult who has tried to occupy the Model Y's third row can confirm. But the VF 9 should have plenty of space back there since it measures a healthy 201.5 inches from nose to tail, making it 3 inches longer than the hefty Model X and almost as long as the full-size BMW X7. For larger families in search of a spacious EV that doesn't cost Model X money, the VF 9 can't come soon enough.
The VF 9 is also more than a foot longer than its two-row VinFast VF 8 stablemate, which means there's room for a bigger battery pack that yields more range. According to VinFast, the VF 9 should be good for around 400 miles per full charge (versus 290-ish miles for the VF 8), though we'll wait to see if it can hit the magical 400-mile mark in our real-world testing.
As for performance, the VF 9 shares the VF 8's dual-motor configuration (one at each axle) and 402-horsepower system output. Since the VF 9 is considerably larger, it's also slower: VinFast says it'll hit 60 mph from rest in 6.5 seconds, a second longer than the VF 8. That's not exactly hair-raising acceleration by the standards of today's EVs — even the base 2022 Model X is said to hit 60 in less than 4 seconds — but for the money, it might be just fine.
A note about money, though: VinFast has announced that all EVs sold until the end of 2023 will come with a mandatory battery lease on top of the vehicle price. In the VF 9's case, the monthly lease payment starts at $44 for limited use (310 miles per month) and goes up to $160 for unlimited mileage. This unusual requirement hurts the VF 9's value proposition compared to rival EVs that include the battery pack as part of the purchase.