Car Reviews

What is the Difference Between a Sunroof and a Moonroof?

By TheCarzingTeam April 11, 2022 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

If you’re shopping for a new car, you’re probably looking for ways to narrow down your options. Comparing the features that each vehicle is designed with is one way to filter out vehicles that aren’t quite right for your lifestyle.

As you research different vehicles, you may notice that many of them are designed with either a sunroof or moonroof. Most people use the terms “sunroof” and “moonroof” interchangeably, but they are actually referring to two different types of car features. What is the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof? Which one is better? Here’s what you need to know to shop with confidence:

Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What’s the Difference?

Both sunroofs and moonroofs are panels found on the roofs of vehicles that allow sunlight and/or fresh air inside the cabin. Even though sunroofs and moonroofs serve the same purpose, they are very different.

A sunroof is an opaque metal panel, so from the outside, it blends in with the rest of the vehicle. The panel is designed to slide back to reveal the open sky and allow sunlight and outdoor air inside. If the panel is closed, it won’t allow sunlight or air into the vehicle.

Some sunroofs are only designed to slide open and closed, whereas others are also designed to tilt upwards. This gives the driver more control over the amount of sunlight and fresh air they allow into their vehicle. If they only want a little breeze, they can tilt the sunroof up, but if they want to feel the wind in their hair, they can open it all the way.

A moonroof is a type of sunroof. But unlike a sunroof, a moonroof is a panel made out of tinted glass. It is transparent, so from the outside, it looks similar to the vehicle’s other windows. Whereas a sunroof typically can be completely removed, a moonroof cannot.

Because a moonroof is made out of transparent glass, passengers can look up and see the sky even when the moonroof is completely closed. They won’t get fresh air unless the moonroof is open, though. Most modern vehicles are designed with moonroofs rather than sunroofs.

To simplify things, it helps to think of a sunroof as a door and a moonroof as a window.

How Much Do Moonroofs and Sunroofs Cost

How Much Do Moonroofs and Sunroofs Cost?

Moonroofs and sunroofs are usually not available on base models. Instead, they are typically found on higher trim levels. However, higher trim levels are designed with a number of additional features, which makes it difficult to estimate the exact cost of a moonroof or sunroof.

If your vehicle doesn’t come with a moonroof or sunroof, you can always have one installed. The average cost of a moonroof or sunroof installation ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.

What Are the Different Types of Sunroofs and Moonroofs?

There are a number of different types of sunroofs and moonroofs, including:

  • Folding Sunroofs
  • Built-In Moonroofs
  • Spoiler Moonroofs
  • Pop-Up Moonroofs
  • Lamella Moonroofs
  • Panoramic Moonroofs

Folding Sunroofs

Many high-end vehicles used to be designed with folding sunroofs, which was one of the first types of sunroofs introduced by the automotive industry. A vehicle with a folding sunroof is designed with a large, open space in its roof. This open space is covered by a fabric top that is durable enough to withstand exposure to environmental elements. The fabric folds up to expose the open space, which allows fresh air and sunlight into the vehicle’s cabin.

Folding sunroofs were not controlled by switches or buttons inside the cabin. Instead, the fabric had to be manually pulled back to reveal the open space. This means the sunroof could not be opened or closed while the vehicle was in motion.

Built-In Moonroofs

Built-in moonroofs are standard moonroofs. In other words, when you think of a moonroof, a built-in moonroof is probably what comes to mind.

Unlike a folding sunroof, a built-in moonroof can be opened or closed using controls found inside the vehicle’s cabin. This allows the driver to open or close the moonroof while the vehicle is in motion.

Built-in moonroofs are usually designed to tilt open or slide back all the way into the vehicle’s roof to increase the sunlight and airflow inside the cabin. This is by far the most popular type of moonroof found on vehicles today.

Spoiler Moonroofs

The main difference between a spoiler and built-in moonroof is the way they open and close. Built-in moonroofs are designed to slide back into the vehicle’s roof when they are open. However, a spoiler moonroof does not.

Instead, a spoiler moonroof pops up before sliding back. A built-in moonroof disappears into the vehicle’s roof when it is open, whereas a spoiler moonroof sits slightly above the vehicle’s roof when it’s fully open. In this position, a spoiler moonroof resembles the spoilers found on racing vehicles, which is how it got its name.

Some people don’t like the fact that a spoiler moonroof is visible from the outside when it is open, whereas others do. Both types of moonroofs serve the same purpose, so this is a matter of personal preference.

What is the Difference Between a Sunroof and a Moonroof

Pop-Up Moonroofs

As its name suggests, a pop-up moonroof is designed to pop open and closed to allow sunlight and air into the vehicle’s cabin. Unlike spoilers and built-in moonroofs, pop-up moonroofs are not designed to slide open and closed. As a result, a pop-up moonroof will not provide as much sunlight or fresh air as other moonroofs.

Many pop-up moonroofs are also designed with sunshades. This sunshade slides across the moonroof’s glass to block out unwanted light. For example, if you just want a little fresh air, but don’t want a lot of sunlight, you can pop open the moonroof and slide the sunshade across the glass. 

Lamella Moonroofs

The design of a lamella moonroof is far more complex than the design of a pop-up, spoiler, or built-in moonroof. Lamella moonroofs are similar to Venetian blinds. These moonroofs feature multiple panels of glass that slide back and stack on top of each other when open.

Unlike the built-in moonroof, the glass won’t disappear into the vehicle’s roof. Instead, the stack of glass panels will sit at the far end of the moonroof’s opening.

Some people love the elegant and unique look of a lamella moonroof, however it’s much harder to maintain and repair this style of moonroof.

Panoramic Moonroofs

The newest type of moonroof is the panoramic moonroof. A panoramic moonroof is much larger than a standard moonroof. It typically runs the entire length of the roof, which gives the passengers inside the vehicle a much better view of the sky above.

Unlike other moonroofs, a panoramic moonroof gives both front seat and back seat passengers a clear view of the sky. In fact, if your vehicle has a panoramic moonroof, it may feel like you’re driving inside a convertible.

These moonroofs are becoming increasingly popular, especially on high-end, luxury vehicles. 

Sun Roof vs. Moon Roof: Which is Better?

There are pros and cons to both moonroofs and sunroofs. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you prefer. However, it may be more difficult to find a vehicle with a sunroof since most vehicles on the market today are designed with moonroofs.

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