Sunroof vs Moonroof – What’s the Difference?

When shopping for a used vehicle at Enterprise Car Sales, you may have noticed that some vehicles come with options for either a sunroof or a moonroof. But what is the difference? And how have sunroofs and moonroofs changed over the years?

In the early days of the automobile, both fully enclosed and open top vehicles were available. Automakers started coming up with ways to give car owners the openness of a convertible vehicle without the need for a folding roof mechanism. Some of the earliest designs used canvas or metal roof coverings that could be moved back to let the sun in, known as sunroofs.

Using tinted tempered glass instead of a solid panel or canvas covering allowed automakers to let light into the cabin without letting air in, and these are typically called moonroofs. These days, many automakers use the terms sunroof and moonroof interchangeably as the style and technology of these roof options have advanced. Most vehicles today have what would traditionally be called a moonroof.

Types of Sunroofs & Moonroofs

  • Built-In – These types of roofs typically allow for ventilation by raising the rear of the panel up, or they can fully open by sliding back between the vehicle’s roof and headliner. Glass versions of these, which are the most common today, often have sun shades that can slide separately to block out sunlight.
  • Lamella – These roofs are not very common, but they work by having panels that can open like a vent but can also slide back like a set of blinds to fully open and allow for the sun and outside air to come into the vehicle.
  • Panoramic – Usually consisting of glass panels in both the front and rear of the roof, panoramic roofs give you the most open air-like experience with most or all the roof panel letting in the sun. On some vehicles, one or more of these panels can open as well to allow for ventilation.
  • Pop-up – Not seen as much in modern vehicles, pop-up roofs can vent like a built-in sunroof or moonroof but need to be removed entirely and stored (typically in the trunk) if you want a full open-air experience.

Should I Get a Sunroof or Moonroof?

What type of sunroof or moonroof is available depends on the make and model of vehicle you are looking for, but many vehicles these days offer at least some kind of option if you want that open-air feeling. Both sunroofs and moonroofs are great options if you want to let the sun and wind into your car occasionally. Find your next used vehicle with a sunroof or moonroof at your local Enterprise Car Sales today!

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JD Power