Sunroof vs. Moonroof: Is There any Differences?

When shopping for a car, you will encounter dealers telling you about vehicle trims with either a sunroof or moonroof. The terms might be confusing to many people, especially those new to cars. Other dealers may use the terms to refer to the wrong car part. Here, we introduce you to the sunroof vs. moonroof debate to sort out this confusion.

While they may appear to be similar, they have several differences. Hang tight as we look at which is which and avoid confusion.

What Is a Sunroof?


We commence our discussion by checking out the sunroof, a movable opaque panel that covers a window on the car roof. It lets in light and fresh air into the passenger cabin and is an excellent way of cooling the car without air conditioning.

The sunroof has a rich history, dating back to the early ages of vehicles. Early vehicles had two sections; a covered passenger cabin and an open driver’s compartment. As such, the driver got exposed to the surroundings. It was a show of prestige, as it showed that the car owner had a chauffeur, some of whom wore uniforms to show their designation.

As vehicle technology improved, leading to increased speed limits, the design changed to shield the driver from gushing wind, rain, snow, and dust. The early sedans had a closed configuration, with a slot at the driver’s spot. 

As we can see, the primary role of the sunroof was to expose the driver. Currently, it is a luxury addition built for the car owner to experience the environment. A defining feature of a sunroof is its opaqueness which is the same color as the vehicle’s body. You had to operate the sunroof of older cars manually, but it is an automatic operation for newer models.

Types of sunroofs include a spoiler, pop-up, folding, top-mount, and solar, among many more. The differences factor in the size, design, and operating mechanism.

Also, Read Tesla Model 3 Vs. Model Y – Know The Difference

Pros Of Sunroof

The sunroof allows light and air entry, crucial for visibility and comfort. When driving, it acts as an air conditioner, allowing for your vehicle’s aeration. The sunroof also contributes to the car’s aesthetic appeal, giving it a modern and sporty look.

This car part comes in handy when you do not want to open windows due to the disturbing sound of the gushing wind. You can open it and have air circulation with reduced noise. In cold climates, it allows in light, which gives a pleasant feeling.


A jammed sunroof can be frustrating as it may let in rain, snow, and dust. Also, when the vehicle ages, the sunroof may leak, especially if it is not properly maintained. Replacing a broken sunroof is quite costly.

What Is a Moonroof


A moonroof is a type of sunroof. A defining picture is its glass construction, which may be transparent or translucent. Like a sunroof, you can slide or tilt it to let in the fresh air. A moonroof gives a car a futuristic look, a thing that makes it popular among consumers.

Lately, we have the panoramic moonroof, where most of the car’s roof is glass. However, only the frontal panel can open in most vehicle models.

Read: Tesla Model X Vs. Y – An Inclusive Comparison

Pros Of a Moonroof

The primary advantage of a moonroof is that it lets in sufficient amounts of light, especially if it is panoramic. Some vehicles have photochromic moonroofs, which regulate the amount of light getting into the car. You can get a photochromic film for light control if you have the standard transparent moonroof.

Also, you can open the moonroof for air circulation. This car part does justice to the vehicle’s looks, making it sleeker and sportier.


A downside of the moonroof is it may let in too much light, even when unnecessary. Moreover, panoramic moonroofs compromise the privacy of the vehicle occupants. With time, the binding around the moonroof may wear, leading to leakage. Replacement of this part is expensive.

sunroof vs moonroof bmw

Differences Between Sunroof Vs. Moonroof

It is now clear that the moonroof is a type of sunroof. Among the differences between sunroof vs. moonroof are the materials used. The sunroof is an opaque panel, most of the same material and color matching the vehicle’s body. On the other hand, the moonroof has a transparent or translucent glass panel. 

The main purpose of these vehicle parts is to let in air and light. You do not have to open the moonroof to let in light, courtesy of its glass construction. However, you may need to slide it open if you want some air. You have to slide the sunroof for light and fresh air entry. 

Sunroof vs. Moonroof vs. panoramic roof, what is the difference? The panoramic roof is a type of moonroof that covers the entire car roof; in short, a large part of the roof is glass construction. Moonroof vs. sunroof pictures will give you a better understanding of the two parts.


Q: What Is a Panoramic Roof?

Panoramic roofs are gaining immense popularity due to the sporty essence they give a car. They are types of moonroofs that span the front and rear seats. It appears like a large area of the roof is glass and lets in sufficient natural light into the passenger cabin. However, only the panel above the front seats can open to let in air.

Q: When Did Sunroof Become Moonroof?

A moonroof is a special type of sunroof that features glass instead of metal. As per sunroof vs. moonroof Reddit discussions, the earliest form of the moonroof was on the 1933 Hillman Aero Minx, which sported a sliding roof panel with glass. Nevertheless, it was still referred to as a sunroof. 

The term moonroof came to be with the 1973 Lincoln Mark IV debut, which featured a sliver-tinted glass panel in place of the traditional sunroof. According to auto pundits, the name moonroof was the brainchild of John Atkinson, a Ford marketing manager.

Q: Why Is It Called a Moonroof Instead of a Sunroof?

The term moonroof was first used in the early 1970s, coined by John Atkinsons, a Ford marketing executive. The name was probably to show the contrast that sets it apart from the sunroof. 

Q: Does A Moonroof Open All the Way?

A noticeable difference between a moonroof and a sunroof is that the latter slides all the way to expose an open slot on the car roof. On the other hand, a standard moonroof tilts open to let in some air. However, some modern vehicles have sliding moonroofs that open all the way.

Q: What Is the Point of a Moonroof?

Many vehicle models have a trim with either a moonroof or sunroof. Their primary function is to let in light and fresh air. The moonroof is a transparent or translucent glass construction and a light pathway, even when not open. It comes in handy when you want air circulation and doesn’t want to open the windows or turn on the air conditioner.

Q: Does A Moonroof Leak?

Leaking is one of the disadvantages of a moonroof that can be pretty frustrating. Leakages can come due to not shutting the moonroof or if it gets faulty. Older cars with moonroofs can leak due to the wearing of the rubber seals. Glass cracking can also lead to this problem. 

Wiring issues can also lead to leaks, especially in automatically-operated moonroofs. The wiring problems may affect the opening and closing of the moonroof; it may leave some space when shut, which lets in water. 

Solutions to a leaking moonroof include shutting it when you leave your car or when the weather appears rainy. Additionally, you should inspect it regularly to check for cracks and the stability of the seals. Finally, address any wiring issues your vehicle may have.

Q: Why Does Toyota Not Offer a Sunroof?

Sunroof vs. moonroof Toyota debate unearths something interesting about this vehicle brand; Toyotas do not have any. Why does Toyota lack the roof add-on? This car brand lacks the modification because all its models have air conditioning vents on the roof; hence, a sunroof can interfere with the design.

Also, the sunroof is unsuitable for its target markets, mostly in hot and humid areas like the Indian subcontinent. The brand also shies away from sunroofs for safety purposes, seeing that they can leak or kids can put their heads through the roof opening.

Q: Which Type of Sunroof Is the Best?

Most car owners prefer the inbuilt sunroof, as it is easy to operate and is not prone to wear. In this sunroof system, the panel slides between the roof and an interior headliner. Panoramic sunroofs are also great, seeing that they allow for sufficient lighting in the vehicle and improve its looks.

The solar sunroof is an excellent add-on, with opaque glass, due to the inlaid photovoltaic cell panel. When shut, the sunroof acts as a solar panel and will channel electricity from the sun to power some of the car’s electrical systems. When opened, it allows for aeration and lights up the interior.

Q: Does Having a Sunroof Increase Insurance?

Many car enthusiasts consider a vehicle with a sunroof akin to having an extra passenger. The sunroof is prone to damage in case of an accident, and many insurance firms will demand a higher premium. The same applies to vehicles with panoramic sunroofs, as they have a large glass surface area that is easy to break.

Q: What Cars Have Moonroofs?

Many car models sport moonroofs, especially the luxury trims. Besides the primary function of letting in fresh air and light, the moonroof gives the vehicle a touch of class and sportiness. The following are models with either a standard or a panoramic moonroof.

  • Acura ILX
  • BMW X5
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Buick Encore
  • Honda Civic
  • Ford Edge, Escape, and F-150
  • Kia Sorento

Keep in mind that some trims of the listed models may have the moonroof while some may not.

Q: Is It Worth Having a Sunroof?

Having a sunroof on your car has perks like improving air circulation, better interior lighting, and improving its aesthetic appeal. It is an excellent additional modification that gives your vehicle a touch of class. Nonetheless, be keen on disadvantages like making the car heavier and affecting its aerodynamics. Maintenance and replacement of the sunroof are expensive. Go for cars with a sunroof if you feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Q: Can I Add a Sunroof to My Car?

At times, you may get a car with no sunroof, and you need one. You may go for an aftermarket sunroof and give your vehicle a facelift. Look for sunroof installation near me to get an expert mechanic to handle the modification.

While it is possible to add a sunroof to your car, it is not an advisable move as you might compromise the vehicle’s structural integrity. The sunroof has many moving parts that may increase the vehicle’s weight. Moreover, it will affect the car’s aerodynamics and its resale value. If you want a car with a sunroof, you should buy one instead of modifications.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Add a Sunroof to A Car?

If your car has no sunroof, you may consider adding one. A pro mechanic can do a decent job modifying your vehicle. The cost of installing a sunroof depends on many factors, like the garage you opt for, vehicle model, and, most importantly, the type of sunroof. A pop-up sunroof is the most affordable to install, averaging $600-$800.

A spoiler sunroof costs between $700 and $1100, while a moonroof installation costs around $1300-$2500. A panoramic sunroof is the priciest, requiring you to part with $1800 to $3200, understandably so, due to the work involved. 

Q: Which SUV Has the Best Sunroof?

Plenty of SUVs have trims with a sunroof for a luxurious essence. Most top picks with a sunroof have the panoramic type, resulting in a classy and comfortable interior. 

The Chevrolet Trailblazer and BMW X5 are among the best SUVs with the roof add-on. Others are the Audi Q3 and the Toyota Highlander. Apart from comfort, they also perform well on the road. 

Q: Which Car Has the Biggest Sunroof?

When talking about big sunroofs, we focus on the panoramic sunroofs, seeing that the panel covers the entire or most of the roof. The Lincoln MKZ has one of the largest functional sunroofs. It is more of a panoramic sunroof, but it can retract all the way down, like a convertible roof. Most panoramic sunroofs will open only to expose the front seats.

Final Word

The sunroof vs. moonroof discussion is interesting, as it brings to light the history, functions, and more differences between the two-car extras. We learn that the moonroof is a special type of sunroof, defined by its glass construction. The panoramic roof, the largest sunroof, is a type of moonroof, factoring in that its primary material is glass.

A car with a sunroof or moonroof looks classy and allows for aeration and air entry. Use this article as your reference for these two car accessories, and pick the one you prefer.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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