Understanding the Difference: Moonroof vs Sunroof Explained

what's the difference between a moonroof and a sunroof

If you’re in the market for a new car, you may have noticed the terms “moonroof” and “sunroof” being thrown around. While these two features may seem interchangeable, they actually have distinct differences that are worth exploring to make an informed decision when purchasing a vehicle.

So, what’s the difference between a moonroof and a sunroof? In this article, we’ll explore the unique characteristics and functionalities of each feature, as well as their similarities and differences.

What is a Moonroof?

A moonroof is a type of vehicle roof that consists of a panel made of glass or another transparent material that slides between the roof of the car and the headliner, exposing the sky above. The term “moonroof” was coined by Ford Motor Company in the 1970s as a marketing term for its optional sliding glass sunroof.

There are several types of moonroofs, including:

  • Inbuilt moonroof: This type of moonroof is integrated into the roof panel and slides between the roof and headliner.
  • Top-mount moonroof: This moonroof sits above the car’s roofline and does not require any space inside the car.
  • Spoiler Moonroof: This is a type of moonroof that has an angled panel that sits above the roof and tilts open to reduce wind noise while driving.

Moonroofs can enhance the driving experience and provide an open-air feeling without the wind turbulence of a fully open sunroof. They are typically powered, with a one-touch feature for easy opening and closing. Moonroofs can also come with a sunshade to block out unwanted sunlight.

What is a Sunroof?

A sunroof is an opening on the top of a vehicle that allows natural light and ventilation to enter the cabin. Unlike a moonroof, a sunroof does not come with a retractable shade. It can either be opened or closed manually or through an electronic mechanism.

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There are different types of sunroofs available, including pop-up, spoiler, inbuilt, top-mount, and panoramic sunroofs. The pop-up sunroof is the most common type, typically found on smaller cars. Spoiler sunroofs are longer and wider, extending out from the back of the roof. Inbuilt sunroofs are installed directly into the car roof, while top-mount sunroofs are mounted above the car roof. Panoramic roofs are the largest type, often stretching from the windshield to the rear window.

Sunroofs can have various benefits, including improving air circulation, reducing glare from the sun, and providing a better view while driving. It can also enhance the overall aesthetic of a car, giving it a more luxurious appearance.

Key Similarities

Moonroofs and sunroofs are both roof panels that provide additional light and ventilation to a vehicle’s cabin. They share the same primary purpose, which is to enhance the overall driving experience. Additionally, both features are typically made of glass, allowing natural light to enter the vehicle, which can create an open, airy feeling.

One of the primary similarities between moonroofs and sunroofs is that they are both operated similarly. They can be opened or closed manually or electronically, depending on the car’s make and model. Additionally, both features can be equipped with a sliding shade or a retractable cover to block out light and provide privacy.

Another similarity between moonroofs and sunroofs is that they can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small and rectangular to large and panoramic. This allows car owners to choose the size and style that best fits their vehicle and personal preferences.

Differences Between Moonroof and Sunroof: Understanding Their Distinguishing Features

While moonroofs and sunroofs serve a similar purpose, they have specific design elements and operational variances that differentiate them. Understanding these distinctions is crucial when deciding between the two. Here are some key differences to consider:

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Moonroofs are usually smaller than sunroofs due to their positioning on the roof of a vehicle. They typically provide a smaller opening for ventilation and natural light.


Moonroofs are commonly made of tempered glass rather than regular glass, providing better durability and safety. On the other hand, sunroofs can be made of various materials, including tempered glass, tinted glass, or even a combination of metal and glass.


Moonroofs usually have a sliding mechanism, allowing the glass panel to move backward and forward to different positions for better ventilation. In contrast, sunroofs can have multiple operating mechanisms, such as tilting, sliding, or fully retracting to provide a larger opening.


Moonroofs tend to be more expensive than sunroofs due to their higher quality materials and more advanced mechanisms.

When deciding between a moonroof and sunroof, it’s essential to consider these distinguishing features to determine which option aligns with your needs and preferences.

Considerations When Choosing Between a Moonroof or Sunroof

When deciding between a moonroof or sunroof, several factors come into play. Let’s explore some of the key considerations to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and budget.

Personal Preferences

Your personal preferences play a crucial role in choosing between a moonroof or sunroof. Consider factors such as the amount of light you want to let in, the level of privacy you need, and the type of vehicle you will be installing the roof on. A moonroof typically provides more natural light and a clearer view of the sky, while a sunroof tends to offer more ventilation and airflow.

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The functionality of a moonroof or sunroof is another crucial consideration. Moonroofs typically slide open and closed, while sunroofs often have a tilting feature that allows for ventilation without fully opening the roof. Think about how you plan on using your roof and choose the option that best aligns with your intended functionality.


Finally, your budget is an essential factor to consider when choosing between a moonroof or sunroof. While both options offer unique features, they come with different price tags. Sunroofs are generally more affordable, while moonroofs tend to be more expensive due to their intricate design and better functionality. Consider your budget and choose the option that best fits your needs.


While both moonroofs and sunroofs serve the same purpose of providing natural light and fresh air inside your vehicle, they differ significantly in their design and operational features. Moonroofs are typically full-length and made of glass, while sunroofs are typically smaller and can be made of various materials. Depending on your personal preferences and budget, you might consider the look, feel, and functionality of both options before making a selection.

When choosing between a moonroof and sunroof, you should also consider the types available, their benefits, and how they enhance your driving experience. Remember that each type of roof has its unique advantage, so it is essential to research and assess the products available in the market before making a final decision.

Ultimately, the choice between a moonroof and sunroof is a matter of personal preference and practicality. Whether you prioritize style, functionality, or budget, there is a perfect fit for everyone. Determine what is most important to you, and choose wisely.

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