Moonroof vs Sunroof: What’s Best

February 22nd, 2023 by

Many vehicles today are designed with moonroofs or sunroofs. The best option to choose when considering a moonroof or sunroof is to decide if you want a roof you can see through and that slides all the way open at the push of a button, or a simple removable roof section. Many of the better sunroofs and moonroofs will also tilt using an electric motor to bring in fresh air and a nice view of the outdoors.

But what’s the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof? While these terms are being used interchangeably more and more, there are some real differences between the two.

A sunroof is a slightly opaque panel of metal or heavy canvas that serves as a sunshade. A moonroof is a glass panel that is completely transparent and provides an unobstructed view and greater airflow than a sunroof.


A moonroof is made with tinted glass that can tilt to bring in the fresh air. It can also slide out of the way for an open air experience. Sometimes the glass slides into a cavity between the roof and the headliner. Other times, glass will retract on the outside of the car or truck. Whereas a sunroof can be removed completely, a moonroof cannot be removed.

The first iteration of the moonroof was introduced on the 1973 Lincoln Mark IV. This moonroof had silver tinted tempered glass that replaced the tradition all metal panelled sunroof. This design also included a fabric covered panel which covered the moonroof when the driver wanted to block out the light coming in from the moonroof.


sunroofA sunroof can tilt, slide or can be removed from a vehicle completely. Sunroofs have typically been painted the same color as the car. One version of the sunroof was the T-Top, which was found on sports cars such as the Corvette or Trans Am but has never really gained widespread popularity.

Over the years, the design of the sunroof and the moonroof have become more and more similar, and many use the two terms to describe either one. The big difference between the words sunroof and moonroof for most people now is the question of whether they slide open electrically. Technically the terms refer to the same thing. But let’s discuss the differences between the two.

A sunroof usually will pop up or retract to let sun and fresh air in.  The sunroof can be made of glass, metal, or canvas. When the sunroof is closed, the light is shut off completely. In addition, a sunroof can be removed completely.

A moonroof generally will be designed to do three things.  There’s a fabric panel inside the car that covers the moonroof. That panel slides back into the cavity between the roof and the headliner to allow light to come through. The rear surface of the glass panel can pop up to let some air in. The entire glass panel can be retracted like the fabric panel into the same cavity, allowing more fresh air into the car. In contrast to the sunroof, the moonroof cannot be completely removed.

Many models of new cars from compacts to full-size SUV’s offer a moonroof or sunroof as an option. If you already own a car with a standard roof, a sunroof or a moonroof can be added as an aftermarket item.

Some drivers have no desire for extra wind or wind noise in the cabin. While convertibles account for less than 2% of the cars sold, cars with moonroofs or sunroofs account for nearly 40% of the cars sold.

Panoramic Roof

In recent years, many cars are being equipped with panoramic roofs. A panoramic roof is a type of moonroof that is merely stationary, so while it’s sometimes called a moonroof, it’s really just a glass roof.  Panoramic sunroofs usually cover a large portion of the roof and can be equipped with a combination of fixed and moveable glass panels. A panoramic sunroof will bring more light into the car and having the additional view of the sky may help a driver who suffers from claustrophobia. Because there’s more light coming in the car though, a panoramic sunroof may require you to run your air conditioning system more frequently, which will cost you in gas mileage.

In the final analysis, the choice of a moonroof or sunroof is subjective and depends on the consumer wants and desires.  Keep in mind that deciding between sunroof, moonroof, or panoramic sunroofs depends on many factors. It’s nice when you can pop open the roof, and a sunroof, moon roof, or panoramic roof can add value to your car when it’s time to trade or sell it. On the other hand, they can be an expensive option, not only at the point of sale, but in the future if it requires service or repair. Another disadvantage of these roofs is that the upholstery in your car could be damaged by excessive exposure to sunlight.

We hope that this has helped you to understand the difnewnferences and similarities of the sunroof, moonroof, and panoramic roof. By weighing the pros and cons of each type of roof, you should be able to make the best decision for you and your family.

For over 85 years, Dixie Buick GMC has served the Ft. Myers area, offering a diverse inventory of both new and used vehicles to choose from. Our highly trained sales team is ready to help you select your next vehicle, and our certified factory trained service technicians are equipped to handle your service needs. If you have any automotive needs in the Naples, Cape Coral, or Ft Myers area, we hope you will stop by and let us serve you. For more information, visit our website or contact us. We hope to see you soon!

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