Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What Are the Differences?
A sunroof is generally any kind of panel on the roof of a car that permits light, air or both to come into a vehicle, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB). A moonroof is considered a type of sunroof, but the main difference is a moonroof usually has a tinted glass panel, much like an extra window on top of the car.
Moonroofs may tilt open slightly to let fresh air into the cabin, but won’t open completely like a sunroof.
Some people use the term sunroof, some call it a moonroof, and others use both words interchangeably to describe this feature. The subtle differences may need some clarification.
Typically, a sunroof includes two types of panels: One panel may be made of either metal or the same material as the ceiling of the car, and can be retracted to expose the glass panel above. The other panel is made of glass that can be either tilted open or completely retracted to essentially serve as an open window in the roof, says KBB.
These days, many of today’s vehicles offer a range of different sunroof options. According to Carite.com, the following are examples of some of the types of sunroofs:
- Pop-Up: A manually operated tilting panel.
- Spoiler: Features a panel tilts up and slides backward on the exterior of the car, providing a partial opening.
- Top-Mount Sliding: Mounted on rails, the panel slides open on the vehicle exterior.
- Inbuilt/Moonroof: Typically electric, the panel slides between the metal roof and interior headliner.
As mentioned above, a moonroof is considered a type of sunroof because it lets in light and air through the top of the vehicle. But there are also different characteristics in terms of material and functionality. Many times, adds KBB, a moonroof will include an interior sliding shade or panel matching your car’s interior so you can shut the light out.
While they are similar in nature, there is a difference between a sunroof and moonroof. When you are shopping for a new car, consider these differences and choose the option that’s right for you.
Originally published June 2015.