What’s the difference between a moonroof and a sunroof?

By Product Expert | Posted in Technology, Tips and Tricks on Friday, February 23rd, 2018 at 7:24 pm
external and internal view of a Jeep sunroof, different models

Different automakers have different terms for a variety of features, and the industry and consumers don’t always have a consistent name for things. Which brings us to the classic sunroof. Or does your vehicle have a moonroof? And how big is a panoramic sunroof? We are going to explore “What’s the difference between a moonroof and a sunroof?” below as well as a few more of these questions.

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Let there be light! Natural light, that is.

Both sunroofs and moonroofs let light into a vehicle, and generally can be opened to allow fresh air to enter as well. Vehicles from compact cars all the way up to minivans and full-size trucks or SUVs are available with this advantage, though moonroofs/sunroofs are generally a high-end feature that do not come standard. Many people will use these terms to mean the same thing, but if you are getting technical you could argue that there are some differences.


While this is the more common term, it technically may apply to a removable panel on the roof of a vehicle. From the outside, it would look like the vehicle has a solid roof. However, with the push of a button (or, know, the application of a wrench and other tools) you can enjoy the open air with a sunroof.


A moonroof in contrast is a glass panel that is always there, but sometimes is covered by a sunshade so that drivers and passengers don’t roast in the vehicle when it is very sunny. Often these glass panel will have a sliding or lifting function so that they can also allow fresh air to circulate through the vehicle.
external view of a sunroof on an SUV
interior view of the panoramic sunroof in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
2017 Chrysler Pacifica exterior sunroof view

Is a panoramic moonroof really as cool as it sounds?

In some larger vehicles, you will get a panoramic moonroof. With this, most of the roof of the vehicle will be glass to allow in light. However, generally only the front seats, and sometimes the second row, will be actually removable or have the ability to slide open. Kids in the third row in a minivan or crossover will be able to see the sky, but won’t be able to open anything they could climb out of. In our opinion, this feature may not be necessary, but it is very cool and makes the interior of the vehicle feel larger.

Want to find a used vehicle in the Austin TX area with a sunroof or moonroof? Check out the used vehicle inventory available here at the Third Coast Auto Group.