15 Panoramic Sunroof Pros and Cons

A sunroof on an automobile is typically a movable glass panel that can operate manually or automatically to open and close. There are several different options and styles available depending on the make and model that you choose, with the panoramic sunroof often being one of the most popular options that is available. It differs from a moonroof because it opens instead of being a fixed glass panel.

Panoramic systems often use a multi-panel roofing design that offers openings above the front and rear seats instead of offering a single option in the middle of the vehicle. They can be operable or fixed panels, depending on what the manufacturer provides. This option typically uses a top-slider or spoiler mechanism to produce the desired result.

When a vehicle is equipped with this option, then there is another place for natural light to enter the car. Occupants can decide to open one or both of the panels to let fresh air into the cabin as well. This feature may help some vehicles to feel like they are a convertible while still offering the protection of a roofed cabin.

As with most features that are available on modern vehicles today, there are a series of pros and cons of a panoramic sunroof to consider before settling on a car or SUV which offers this option.

List of the Pros of a Panoramic Sunroof

1. A panoramic sunroof provides natural air conditioning.
If the cabin feels a little warm when you are driving, then opening the sunroof can let in more of the air from the outside. You can cool down using the natural wind movements instead of using the air conditioning system of your vehicle. Although having the windows open will cost you some fuel because of the added wind resistance, running the air conditioning to stay comfortable could increase your consumption by up to 10% more.

2. It provides the vehicle with an enhanced sense of openness.
When you have a panoramic sunroof that is open, then you have a greater sense of freedom when you are behind the wheel. It is an experience that reduces the claustrophobic effect of an enclosed space when you have a lot of people sitting under a traditional roof. You don’t need to worry about a lack of roof structure as you would with a convertible in case something happened, while at the same time the view for your passengers is enhanced because they can look upward instead of outward.

3. You can cool down your car without the noise of the wind.
When you open a panoramic sunroof instead of your windows, then the noise that enters the cabin from the wind outside is dramatically reduced. You can have some extra fresh air in there without worrying about speaking loud enough to be heard. Your vehicle will receive additional ventilation with the roof open as well, which can reduce problematic odors or freshen a stale environment. Although you’ll still need to close it when it begins to rain outside, these benefits typically add value to the vehicle when you want to eventually sell it or trade it in for a newer model.

4. The design makes it easier to check on any loads that you are carrying.
Many vehicles today come equipped with a roof rack that makes it easier to carry oversize items while you travel. You can carry a kayak, a luggage container, or even a mattress if necessary. Thanks to the presence of the panoramic sunroof, you can have someone check on the load as you are driving to ensure that it is not shifting around. If you do detect movement, then you can pull over right away to adjust it instead of worrying about whether or not it will fall on the road behind you.

You can also open the sunroof to carry oversize items within the cabin of your vehicle in some situations.

5. It can serve as an emergency escape in some situations.
If you are in an accident that makes it impossible to exit your vehicle from the doors, then the panoramic sunroof can act as another way to escape. Most designs make it easy enough to take out the glass completely if you need to get out of there. It becomes another way to escape safely if your vehicle becomes flooded for some reason and the windows will not open.

6. You can receive some extra sunshine while driving.
Your skin likes to receive sunshine in moderate amounts because it helps in the production of Vitamin D. Although too much exposure could lead to an interesting sunburn while driving, anyone in a vehicle can encounter that issue with their windows too. You’ll want to take steps to protect your interior from frequent sunshine and wear some sunblock when appropriate, but it also feels good to have the sun shining down on your through the open roof while driving. When you arrive at a destination like Las Vegas or some other attraction with lots of visuals, the panoramic sunroof can add to the experience as well.

7. Opening the roof can sometimes improve your reception.
If you are struggling to receive a satellite, cellular, or radio signal from your vehicle, then a panoramic sunroof can help. Some handheld devices do not respond well to the traditional roof. When you open it up, then you can improve the wireless reception for everyone in the vehicle in some situations.

List of the Cons of a Panoramic Sunroof

1. This design allows more heat to enter your vehicle during the day.
If you live in a region that receives 300 or more days of sunshine every year, then the added glass found on the roof of the vehicle can cause the interior temperatures in the cabin to rise rapidly. Even if the vehicle offers a tinted sunroof to replicate the classic look of a black roof, it may take less than 15 minutes for interior temperatures to rise to potentially damaging levels. Without a retractable sunshade, you may find that the excessive heat is harmful to some interior components.

When you start moving, the air conditioner must work harder to compensate for the higher heat levels as well. If the sun is overhead while driving, you will still encounter this disadvantage if the A/C isn’t on as you head down the road.

2. There is less headroom available in most models with a panoramic sunroof.
When you purchase a vehicle that comes equipped with a panoramic sunroof, then you are also buying a model that requires more of your cabin space for the motor and mechanisms that are used to open and close the window. The only way to avoid this disadvantage is to opt for a moonroof design instead. Although the difference is not extreme, some vehicles can lose up to 2 inches of head space for passengers because of this design. Taller drivers can sometime find themselves tilting their head at an angle to avoid this equipment or the tilt of any open window too.

3. It adds more weight to the roof of the vehicle.
Automotive manufacturers are working to reduce the weight of their vehicles wherever they can because light cars equate to better gas mileage. You’ll receive braking and acceleration benefits as well. Heavy items are placed as low as possible to improve the handling and stability of the structure for the driver. When you add over 200 pounds of glass to the design for a panoramic sunroof, along with the reinforcing bars, motor, and drainage channels that are necessary, you could find the vehicle feels a little top-heavy. You are also adding the weight of at least one additional passenger to the car every time that you drive.

4. It adds noise and complexity to your vehicle.
Instead of having a sheet of metal for your roof, a panoramic sunroof adds 2+ heavy glass panels, switches, channels, rollers, and motors that help to maximize the benefits of this design. You are also changing the shape of the vehicle, altering the profile it has going into the wind. This change can cause the vehicle to make more noise while driving down the road. If something goes wrong for some reason, the squeaks, rattles, and flexing noises in the roof are right above your head – which can get exceptionally annoying.

5. Driving in the rain is much louder when you have a panoramic sunroof.
Because there is less insulation for the roof of your vehicle when a large window is installed there, precipitation that hits your vehicle is considerably louder with this option when compared to the original design. Although some people enjoy the sound of the rain, driving through a storm can make it virtually impossible to have a conversation with someone or enjoy a song on the radio.

6. The design could reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle.
A panoramic sunroof creates a large hole in the roof of your vehicle. If the design encompasses the entire upper structure, then you do gain an advantage in the fact that there is more structural rigidity than if nothing was there at all. This product will never be as strong or solid as a conventional top, however, since the seals are not always 100% waterproof. The drainage points can sometimes clog, which causes the water to overflow and leak into the cabin. If you were in an accident, then the glass would also present a potential hazard during a rollover situation.

7. This feature may not be necessary on some vehicles.
Many people purchase a feature like a panoramic sunroof because they think that they’ll drive with it open all of the time. The reality of life can be very different. When it is too cold, too hot, or too windy to experience this feature, then you are spending more on something that you’re not using consistently. And, like a convertible, you can’t have the sunroof open unless you have all of the internal sunshades retracted, which means the entire cabin is exposed to the additional sunshine – which your passengers may not always appreciate.

8. Condensation can collect on the glass during the colder months.
When you have a panoramic sunroof on your vehicle, then you will notice on the colder days of the year that condensation can form on the inside of the glass. This moisture can drip onto your upholstery and other interior items, potentially encouraging the formation of mold or mildew if you do not drive for some time.

Precipitation is also a factor to consider if you encounter severe weather or forget to close the window. Hail hitting your vehicle could damage the panoramic sunroof, requiring you to carry automotive insurance that would cover this cost. The rain could also come into your cabin if the window doesn’t close in time, which could contribute to mold and mildew formation.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.