You may have heard moonroof and sunroof used synonymously, however there is a distinct difference between both. It can be hard deciphering the difference on your new cars option sheet, so let’s get straight into it.


A sunroof includes two types of panels, the first being a retractable panel mimicking the headliner. Once fully retracted will expose the glass panel above. The second is another panel made of glass which can be tilted open or fully open, essentially serving as an open window in the roof.

You’ll commonly see wind deflectors or wind nets used with a sunroof, otherwise you will hear whistling and air passing over the gap when travelling at speed.

Interestingly, there are different types of sunroof:

  • Pop-up: A manually operated panel which tilts open.
  • Spoiler: A panel which tilts up and slides towards the back of the car, providing an opening in the roof
  • Top-mount sliding: Mounted to rails, the panel will slide open on the vehicle’s exterior.
  • Inbuilt/Moonroof: Generally electric, this slides between the vehicles metal roof and interior headliner revealing the glass.



Technically a type of sunroof due to it letting air and light through the top of the vehicle. However, the moonroof earned its own name due to its functionality, and ultimately demand on vehicles.

A moonroof will commonly have an interior sliding shade matching your headliner so you can open/close when needed. However, the glass doesn’t retract or open, it’s just a fixed structure within the cabin.

The idea is to let light into the vehicle when desired or using the shade to block light out.