Stunning But Impractical: Pros and Cons of Panoramic Roof


There was a time when a regular sunroof was considered a luxury. But today in the US, this feature is becoming commonplace, and manufacturers install entire glass panels on many modern cars. But what is a panoramic roof? Is this an advantage or rather a disaster? The Indy Auto Man used car experts get down to the details of this issue.

What is a panoramic roof?

The term speaks for itself, given that “panorama” means a wide view of any area. Often, a panoramic sunroof is a pumped-up variation of a regular sunroof, creating the impression of an open space above the heads of passengers. Unlike a conventional sunroof, located approximately in the center, a panoramic roof (or panoramic sunroof), as a rule, occupies the entire roof, resting against the top line of the windshield on one side and the rear window on the other.

Advantages of Panoramic Roofs

A panoramic roof has several advantages:

  • Resale value. Since a panoramic roof is almost a sign of luxury, having one can increase the value of your car on resale or trade-in.
  • Appearance. The panoramic roof, especially the one from the windshield to the trunk, looks attractive. The car immediately seems more elegant and sporty than it is.
  • Passenger health. Residents of large cities like Indianapolis don’t get enough sunshine because they spend most of their lives indoors. The panoramic roof partially solves this problem.
  • Mood. In addition to the overall health benefits, a well-lit interior can improve your mood. It also creates a feeling of more open and comfortable space.
  • Cooling improvement. When parked in the sun, a half-open sunroof allows hot air to rise, preventing the cabin from overheating.


Unfortunately, a panoramic roof also has several shortcomings:

  • Displaced center of gravity. The glass panels and the mechanisms designed to open them increase the weight of the car’s roof. This shifts the center of gravity, which can adversely affect handling. Most drivers won’t notice the difference, but those who want to buy a sports car should consider that replacing a carbon fiber roof with panoramic glass can negatively affect performance.
  • Reduction of cabin space. In vehicles, where the panoramic sunroof does not open upwards, it is retracted into a special recess. To do this, manufacturers have to lower the ceiling, which can reduce the interior space by as much as 1,5 in.
  • Humidity in cold climates. Glass does not have the thermal insulation and sandwich construction of a conventional roof, which means that cold can lead to condensation inside the cabin.
  • Reduced efficiency of climate control. While the panoramic roof allows hot air to escape more quickly, it reduces the effectiveness of climate control systems because direct sunlight heats the cabin. Newer sunroofs with improved insulation partially solve this problem, but older cars can suffer from overheating. Additional complications arise from the increased weight, which makes it difficult for the engine or batteries to work. First of all, this concerns hybrid vehicles.
  • Difficulties in maintenance. Numerous moving parts in the structure and a complex roof control system increase the likelihood of breakage, and the wear of rubber seals, which will inevitably occur over time, will lead to leaks.
  • Possible breakdowns. An even-tempered glass roof is more vulnerable than a solid metal panel. They affect ride and damping: strong shocks are distributed throughout the body, which, in turn, can lead to vibration and potential destruction of the glass roof. Of course, replacing it will be expensive.

Types of sunroofs

Panoramic roofs can be divided into the following categories:

  • Panoramic windshield. In this case, the windshield does not rest against the roof line but continues further, covering the passenger area. An excellent example is the glass roof of the little-known Lucid Air, the car of a US-based electric vehicle startup that rivals Tesla. It has a panoramic windshield over the front seats and an adjacent transparent sunroof over the rear.
  • Two- or three-piece roof. Cars of this type usually have a full glass roof divided into two or three panels that can be opened separately. An example of a two-piece panoramic roof is some Subaru models. However, the mere presence of two sunroofs does not make the roof panoramic.
  • Fixed panoramic roof. It can be seen on the recently updated Tesla Model S. Such a roof is a solid panel that covers the entire passenger area.
  • Infinity roof. This is the name given to the four removable glass panels of the new GMC Hummer. True, technically, this cannot be called a panoramic roof: fixed structural crossbars block the view, thereby nullifying precisely the panoramic functions.

Is it worth buying a car with a panoramic roof?

Luxury cars benefit from having such an eye-catching element, while sports cars will do well without a panoramic roof, given its negative impact on performance. If we are talking about a used car, buying a car with a panoramic roof is worth it if it is relatively new or in a just-like-new condition because old vehicles with such a roof will give you a lot of troubles.

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