Vietnamese automaker Vinfast has made a splash in the Triangle, promising thousands of jobs and building a $4 billion, 2.8-million-square-foot electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Chatham County, and opening the first non-factory-owned dealership in the United States last month in Cary.
The company’s signature SUV, the VF8 has garnered both praise and complaints regarding quality from the few U.S. drivers that have taken deliver of the cars. Once they were available in Cary, I took one for a test drive.
VinFast addressing early customer concerns
A quick online search finds drivers talking about everything from the acceleration to comfort to the turn signals.
A caveat: The negative and positive reviews linked here from a previous version of the VF8, not the one that is available for sale in Cary. VinFast has addressed many of these issues based on feedback from customers.
The company has also recalled the first shipment of vehicles that arrived stateside because of a needed software update.
In response to reviews that VinFast is not ready for America, North American CEO Van Anh Nguyen told WRAL News, “We are taking actions on that, and you know what, we are working hard to improve based on the feedback that we have received.”
I also interviewed a man in May 2023 about his very positive experience test driving VinFast vehicles. He loved it so much, he says he ordered two while at a dealership in California.
For my test drive, I was behind the wheel of the Vinfast VF8 Plus model, and considered each of these points one by one.
VinFast VF8 cabin is snug
The VF8 Plus certainly felt cozy when seated in the front seat. I’m 6’0”, and comfort is key for me when behind the wheel. The seats have your standard adjusting mechanisms to lean back or forward as much as needed and ensure your seat is high enough for you to be at just the right comfort level. Much like other EVs, the large touchscreen display is next to the wheel and has your basic apps to allow you to listen to music, play games while you wait for your car to charge and other features you’d want to have access to.
Though I didn’t sit in the backseat, my colleague Vincent Boccanfuso did and said he thought everything felt smooth while back there. He was also carrying a camera to film us in the car.
The SUV’s cabin felt spacious enough, though slightly snug for my body’s build. I also experienced issues getting my tennis shoes in a position where I would hit the accelerator and not the part of the car under which it sits. It happened a few times and whereas I thought it might have been my seat not being fully adjusted the way it should have been, that wasn’t the case. It could be a height thing or any number of reasons, but my foot wasn’t totally comfortable while on the accelerator.
VF8 feels solid, ride is smooth
I’d read/watched reviews of drivers feeling as though the VF8’s body was wobbly and moving around so much to the point that some people began to feel sick.
Those reviews were months ago, and that wasn’t a problem with the car I tested.
Although I didn’t get to fully test the car’s turning radius due to the route we took and our time constraints, the turns I did take felt smooth. The car didn’t jolt when I had to make an abrupt stop after someone made a sudden stop in front of me.
I also made a point to try to drive up to 70 miles per hour on the interstate (which was the limit) because a person I interviewed who purchased two VinFast vehicles said the dealership he went to in California would only let him drive on roads with speed limits of 55. I purposely drove at the high speed because I wanted to see if the vehicle would rattle me. That wasn’t the case.
In terms of whether the VF8 feels solid, it does. The seats, dashboard, wheel and most of the car seems very sleek and quality; however, the middle console’s material felt similar to foam I might see in my drone/GoPro carrying case, but it’s possible it was just this specific model that felt that way.
Turn signals didn’t work consistently as expected
Though the salesperson I was with told me many new cars have turn signals that function similarly to the VF8 Plus, I had issues with consistent success with the turn signal. I would push it up and it felt like it thought I was doing a temporary flash of the blinkers.
They did turn off properly when making a left or right turn, except for one occasion. After completing the turn, they stayed on.
I’ve had a similar issue with older cars I’ve driven. Regardless, the turn signal didn’t feel user-friendly to me in that I had to keep flicking it a few times before it worked the way I wanted it to.
The turn signal is an important part of the vehicle’s safety measures, and so to have to fiddle with it a few times during my drive was something I didn’t want to do so as to keep myself and passengers safe.
Alert ‘beep’ issue appears to be resolved
When I watched YouTubers Throttle House and their assessment of the VF8 they drove, you could hear chimes in the vehicle go off multiple times at what appeared to be random. As this can be aa distraction, I looked for this to be the case in the VF8 Plus we drove but didn’t run into that issue. The basic chimes of entering the car and what appeared to be blind spot awareness were the only beeps I experienced.
‘Creep Mode’ making speeding up, stopping feel … different
On several occasions during my test drive, the accelerator didn’t respond to me as quickly as I wanted when I pushed down on it. I thought a gentle pressing of the pedal would make the car ease into moving forward, but it didn’t always seem to register that I was pressing it.
The car also didn’t feel that powerful jolt forward some that other vehicles, particularly Tesla, can give you to let you know it’s responding directly to your pressing of the pedal.
The car was in ‘Creep Mode’, in that it would slow down gently versus a full-on stop. I didn’t get a chance to change the mode, but the feel of “you press it, it goes. You stop pressing, it stops” was absent from my test drive. I wager Creep Mode is meant to give new EV drivers a familiar, gas-like experience in that regard, but still it caught me by surprised and felt … let’s say different.
Is VinFast right for you?
My goal of this review was not to persuade you one way or the other to purchase a VinFast, but to give you an honest, no-skin-in-the-game review of my drive was like. I can’t tell you whether to buy it, lease it, test it, etc., but I can tell you it felt like an ordinary car with a touch-screen panel.
The salesperson said the VF8 Plus will sell for around $51,000, and mind you this is for a vehicle that has the word “luxury” written on its page when you go to the VinFast website.
Luxury could be seen as a subjective turn, but I will admit I was caught off guard when that word was used based on my experience. The touchscreen panel, a little projector odometer on the driver side and motion-sensing raising doors could be viewed as luxury features, sure, and the VF8 Plus has those things. Did it feel luxurious? You’d have to take it for a spin to make that assessment.
The VF8 is available for lease, but should you choose to purchase one, the warranty aims to be competitive compared to other companies. The general manager of Leith Cary lit up with excitement when I asked him what the warranty was. As it reads on the Vinfast website:
All VinFast vehicles will include a 10 year or 125,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty and a 10 year or unlimited mile battery warranty, providing peace of mind for VinFast clients.
For comparison, here is a look at some other competitive vehicle manufacturer warranties.
If you take a ride in either the Echo or Plus models of the VF8, send me an email about your experience at email@example.com.