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Contrary to popular belief, the only difference between the moon roof and the sunroof is the terminology used. The truth is that both are just car roof accessories that open up to let in light and air. In fact, with the advancement of technology and updating of features, the terms have become obsolete. However, there are various distinctions between an embedded and panoramic roof.

Difference between the Moon Roof and the Sunroof

A sunroof inside of a car.
Sunroof | Getty Images

The origin story of how these roofing features came about is quite interesting, and some car experts remain committed to distinct definitions. Their typical go-to distinction between the two is that moon roofs are tinted while sunroofs pop out. However, with the numerous features and options available in modern car designs, the terms have almost become obsolete.

You might even say the only difference between moon roofs and sunroofs is that one has two words while the other has one. The genuine way to evaluate moon and sunroofs is that they are windows on or part of the roof that let light and air into the car. They are there to impress, make us happy, and allow manufacturers to charge us more for their installation as extra features.

However, there are differences between embedded and panoramic roofs concerning their safety and repair issues and how each works.

Embedded/popup/ roofs

The main difference between embedded roofs and panoramic roofs is how it works. According to Erie Insurance, embedded roofs are windows that typically tilt up when opened and slide back into (or over) your vehicle’s roof. They are also known as tilt-and-slide sunroofs. Example car models that offer embedded roofs include Subaru Forester, Buick Encore, Honda Civic, and Mazda Mazda6.

Another distinction of the embedded roofs is their safety and repair issues. When your embedded moon or sunroof incurs damage, you will typically need to fix more than just the glass. You might also have to fix or replace the motors that slide the glass roof away or help it pop open. The cost for these repairs will depend on the sunroof type, the severity of the damage, and your car’s make and model.

An embedded roof is also more affordable since they are smaller and have fewer pieces. They are, however, more susceptible to leaks because of their design.

Panoramic roofs

A panoramic roof is a glass sunroof that spans almost the entire length of the car roof from the front to the back. Typically part of a panoramic roof sits on rails allowing it to slide open. The other part remains fixed in place. Example car models that offer a panoramic roof include the Ford Escape, Nissan Murano, Kia Sorento, and Honda Accord.

A panoramic roof is a daring, bold, and chic feature that offers a much different driving experience than embedded sunroofs. While a panoramic roof is a luxurious car feature, it has some disadvantages. Due to its size, it costs more to install, which consecutively means it is more costly to insure.

Additionally, its glass, reinforcing bars, and motors add considerable weight to your car. The excess weight can lower your car’s stability and strain its suspension, increasing the chance of a rollover accident.

How do sunroofs perform in a rollover crash?

Although rare, rollover crashes are deadly. Among the numerous defense against such an accident is having a reinforced roof. So how can these two sunroofs perform in such a crash?

  • Panoramic roofs: Since panoramic roofs consist entirely of glass, they often perform poorly in rollovers. Occupants not wearing a seatbelt risk being thrown out of the car.
  • Embedded roofs: Since these occupy a relatively small portion of the car roof, they often fare better in rollover crashes. Therefore, occupants remain relatively safe due to the solid roof framework with reinforcement.

To conclude, whether you call it a moon roof or a sunroof, these glass panels are there to provide fun and enjoyment. But as with any car feature, each has advantages and disadvantages that are important to consider before buying a car.


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