Moonroof vs. Sunroof: What’s the Difference?
The original automobiles didn’t have a roof at all, while today, we’re inundated with moonroofs, sunroofs, and convertibles—there are almost too many options! It can get a little tricky to understand the differences between these terms, but it’s not as complex as you’d think. Let’s find out exactly what the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof is.
Are a Moonroof and a Sunroof the Same Thing?
These two types of roofs are sort of the same thing in the sense that they’re both a roof that opens and closes.
There’s no official parlance differentiating the two terms, so they’re often used interchangeably. Technically, they’re completely different roofs. Because they’re both available in various types, a moonroof has been classified as a type of sunroof.
Historically, a sunroof was used to describe a roof that was opaque when closed to offer drivers a normal driving experience. However, the option to open it allowed drivers to relax, and it certainly helped airflow, too.
Moonroofs, on the other hand, are typically a piece of tinted glass that slides between the roof and the headliner. It can be tilted to allow drivers fresh air without compromising visibility or it can be completely opened to allow a view of the sky. A moonroof is often considered an archaic or outdated term and is rarely used these days.
Overview of Moonroofs
Moonroofs originated in the 1970s when a Ford marketer coined the term for the new 1973 Lincoln Mark IV’s unique sunroof that allowed a view of the sky. Instead of a metal panel like most sunroofs up to that point, Ford offered a tinted sliding glass panel that slid between the headliner and roof. It also offered an optional sunshade to block the sun if the driver wished.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take off because consumers didn’t understand how it was different from a sunroof. While variations of the original idea (a sliding roof with a view) have persisted, the original term has fallen out of favor in recent decades. Ironically, most sunroofs today are composed of glass, which technically makes them moonroofs!
Types of Moonroofs
Moonroofs are available in many, but not all, of the same types as sunroofs. Let’s check out a few of them.
Overview of Sunroofs
The sunroof owes its heritage to the Coup de Ville, a vintage automobile that had a removable roof. When it rained, the driver could slide the roof onto the body of the car. After cars began to adopt fully enclosed cabins as a standard, the Nash car offered the world’s first sunroof: a metal panel that could slide in or out to offer drivers a view of the sky and fresh air.
After cars became widely available, luxury automakers began to experiment with the idea of a removable roof panel. Bentley and Rolls-Royce were among the first automakers to offer a car with a sunroof. Today, most sunroofs are simply made of tinted glass, although most cars with a sunroof provide a sunshade to completely block sunlight.
Types of Sunroofs
Like moonroofs, there are many types of sunroofs. They may offer a larger glass panel, different control mechanisms, or other unique features. Let’s check out a few of the sunroofs on offer.
While moonroof as a term might be out of style, modern sunroofs are basically the same thing. There are tons of different styles and design choices for sunroofs, but not all of them will be available for all makes and models.
Featured Image Credit: (L) Moonroof, JADEZMITH, Shutterstock | (R) Sunroof, Sompetch Khanakornpratip, Shutterstock