Panoramic Sunroof vs. Sunroof: Difference & What’s Better

A panoramic sunroof and a sunroof are great features in our cars, but both of them have cons.

As a guy who currently has got a car with a panoramic sunroof and regularly drives cars with a sunroof, I’m going to tell you everything I know about it.

I will tell you which one is safer, which one is more expensive and many more!

What is a Car Panoramic Sunroof?

A car panoramic sunroof is a large piece of glass that makes up the whole ceiling of a car. The panoramic sunroof is usually non-openable and made out of 5 transparent layers that guarantee safety, better visibility, and a brighter interior.

Just take a look at the pictures of how the panoramic sunroof looks like.

panoramic sunroofs

It’s a hole with a glass placed somewhere by the windshield stretching to the rear seats. Some panoramic sunroofs are longer-some are shorter. It depends on the car.

The first car to have a panoramic sunroof was probably Lincoln XL-500 in 1953. Nowadays, cars with a panoramic sunroof are widely made, but they aren’t as popular as cars with a conventional roof.

That’s because panoramic roofs are usually used in better versions of cars which are more expensive. Also, some people don’t like panoramic roofs, because they find them unpractical, but about the disadvantages, I will talk about later on.

The panoramic sunroofs fans love them because they let in lots of sunshine, provide the view of the sky, moon, or airplanes, and their cars look way better.

Would you like to see the best 14+ sedans with a panoramic sunroof? Click here.

What is Car Sunroof?

A car sunroof is a sliding piece of a window in a car’s roof made to boost the atmospheric circulation in the car’s interior. On hot days, it helps to get rid of the hot air from the car quickly.

One thing that differentiates a panoramic sunroof from a sunroof is the size. When we talk about the panoramic sunroof, it comprises the whole ceiling of a car. When it comes to the sunroof, it’s only a fraction of it.

It’s placed over the head of a driver and a passenger, and it’s usually not bigger than 20″x38″.


Another thing that separates both is the feature. A panoramic sunroof is secured well, and you can’t do anything with it. A sunroof has a very important feature. It cools down your car’s interior. You can slide or open it to have a lower temperature in your car.

The draft is nice, but don’t open the sunroof when you’re sweaty, because you might catch a cold.

In the older cars, you open the sunroof manually, but in the newer ones, you only need to press the right button. You can either leave the sunroof ajar or fully open it.

If you want to buy a Ford that features a panoramic sunroof, here’s the list of the best models.

Which One is More Expensive?

A panoramic sunroof costs about $1.200-$1.800, and it is more expensive than a sunroof (about $500) because the production of a panoramic sunroof demands more glass that is thicker and higher quality.

When we compare the price of a car with a conventional roof, a sunroof, and a panoramic sunroof, of course, the cheapest one is the car with a conventional roof. That’s because steel is cheaper than glass, and it doesn’t demand a lot of work to mount such a roof.

A slightly more expensive is a car with a sunroof. There are most costs involved like designing, making a hole, buying and mounting a sunroof. It’s estimated that a car with a sunroof is up to 3-5% more expensive, and the sunroof alone costs on average $500, but in the top-notch cars, it’s, of course, more expensive.

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The most expensive cars are the ones with a panoramic sunroof. A panoramic sunroof alone costs about $1.500, and we need to add other costs like mounting, sealing, costs of work, etc. That makes a car with a panoramic sunroof way more expensive, because by about 5 or even 8%.

A car with a sunroof or with a panoramic sunroof will be always more expensive, no matter if it’s brand new or used.

Read it: 24 Cars with Great Panoramic Sunroof (with Pictures)

Is Sunroof Safer Than Panoramic Sunroof?

A sunroof is safer than a panoramic sunroof. A sunroof usually doesn’t comprise vehicle rigidity, whereas some panoramic sunroofs, especially custom-made, might not be tough enough to be 100% safe during an accident.

If you have a factory-made sunroof, then you’re better off during an accident. That’s because your car is almost as sturdy as a car with a conventional roof, so that the damages will be basically the same.

A huge advantage of a sunroof during an accident is that you can get out of your car through it. It is a good idea if you can’t open the doors.

Some people are afraid that the glass fragments will hurt them, but it’s not true because the sunroof breaks into small, usually harmless pieces of glass.

When it comes to the panoramic sunroof, it might be a bit more dangerous. It might be because there is a myth that a panoramic sunroof comprises vehicle rigidity which might question your safety during an accident. The truth is that you shouldn’t be afraid because when the panoramic sunroof is factory-made, it’s usually examined to be safe in the crash tests.

You should be afraid if you decide to mount a panoramic sunroof on your own, which is irresponsible because such a panoramic sunroof might leak, and you and your car can have more damages during accidents.

The glass in the panoramic sunroof is also made to keep you safe, and it will not hurt you. It crashes similar to the windshield, which is designed not to hurt anyone. However, if you hit your head in a glass, you should keep in mind that it might be more harmful to you than if you hit in a soft coverage of a conventional roof.

Do Both Sunroof and Panoramic Sunroof Take up More Headroom?

Both Sunroof and Panoramic sunroof take up more headroom. In most cases it’s about 1-1.5 inches less.

Glass is usually way thicker than steel since car producers don’t make taller cars, sunroofs take some headroom.

But for most drivers, it’s completely fine. If you’re not higher than 6.4 ft (195 cm), it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

If you’re higher than that and you plan to buy a car with a panoramic sunroof or a sunroof, you should always take a test drive before you buy a car.

Read it: 8 Best Kia Cars with Panoramic Sunroof (with Pictures)

Which is Easier to Maintain?

Sunroof and panoramic sunroof both have a disadvantage- you have to take care of them.

You need to clean the glass from time to time. How often?

It depends on how often you drive, but I would recommend you do it at least twice a month. All you need to have is a window cleaner and some cloth or sponge. You need to clean the glass from inside and outside because it collects lots of dust and even bird poop.

Of course, the bigger the glass is, the more visible the dirt is, so in my opinion, the panoramic sunroof demands more care.

On the other side, if you open your sunroof manually, you can leave your finger marks on it, so you should pay attention to it.

When it comes to maintenance, it’s worth to mention about how often those sunroofs break down.

When it comes to the panoramic sunroof, it shouldn’t break down, because you don’t do anything with it. Sometimes it cracks, but it’s very rare.

A sunroof is more complex, and it tends to stutter sometimes, especially if it’s manual, so you should keep that in mind.

Can Sunroof be an Alternative for Air Conditioning?

A sunroof can be only an addition to air conditioning. That’s because a sunroof is useless in the winter, and in the summer it doesn’t cool down your car as fast as air conditioning. Additionally, it’s very likely to catch a cold when using too much sunroof.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t use the sunroof. It is a good thing because when you use it moderately, it will keep you more focused on the longer tours and reduce fatigue.

Remember not to use it when you’re sweaty because catching a cold is quite frequent among drivers who overuse the sunroof.

The sunroof indeed might cool down the car’s interior, but first- it doesn’t cool down too fast, and second- you have to keep it open to cool down your car all the time. That’s why it’s only a good addition to the air conditioning.

But if you don’t want to deprive your car of horsepower, or you simply don’t have air conditioning, the sunroof would be a great option for you.

A panoramic sunroof can’t be your air conditioner simply because you can’t open it. What’s even worse, on the hot days, it lets in too much sunshine, and your car is overheating. Fortunately, you can cover the panoramic sunroof, but it will help only a little.

Does a Car With a Panoramic Sunroof Look Better than With Sunroof?

It’s a matter of taste, but most people think that a panoramic sunroof looks better. That’s because the panoramic sunroof from the outside looks like a black roof, making a car, especially in a light color, look prettier.

And a panoramic sunroof looks better when you’re inside a car. It’s an element that keeps people’s minds and they are usually impressed with it.

I personally think that a panoramic sunroof looks good, but the newer, especially double sunroofs, are also well-designed.

So, What’s Better?

A panoramic sunroof is better than a sunroof. That’s because a car with a panoramic sunroof looks better, it has better visibility, it lets more sunshine in, and you can admire the sky and the moon. If you choose a car with a well-protected panoramic sunroof, it can be as safe as a car with a conventional roof during an accident.

Let’s present the most important pros and cons of panoramic sunroofs and sunroofs.

Panoramic Sunroof Pros: More sunshine, great-looking car, better visibility at stoplights, you can sell your car for more money, your friends will love it, increases your mood, you have a look at the sky

Panoramic Sunroof Cons: The car is more expensive, you need to keep it clean, it can increase the temperature in your car, you can’t open it, you have less headroom

Sunroof Pros: It cools down your car, you can open it, safer than a panoramic sunroof, you can see the moon, you can get out of your car by it during an accident

Sunroof Cons: You can get a catch a cold, sometimes breaks down