Sunroof vs Convertible: What’s The Difference? (Explained)

There are plenty of different cars that come with different gimmicks that tend to make them look better and more luxurious.

Two examples of such are the sunroof cars and the convertible, both of which can be great in their own right but are nonetheless luxuries.

But what are the differences between cars with a sunroof and convertibles?

Here’s the difference between Sunroof and Convertibles

A car with a sunroof is basically a standard vehicle that comes with a roof that can be opened or can be kept closed but allows more light to enter the cabin. Meanwhile, convertibles are cars that can be converted into roofless cars as the roof can be folded or can be used as they are.

The thing you need to understand is that cars with sunroofs are entirely different compared to convertibles because they each work differently.

However, sunroofs and convertible tops do have similarities in terms of their purposes.

As such, it is a good idea to explore the differences between sunroofs and convertible tops so that you will understand which car is the right one for you.


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What are the differences between the sunroof and convertibles?

When it comes to different cars that have their own aesthetic looks and gimmicks, the roof tends to be one of the areas that car manufacturers tend to use to make the car look better and to add more value to the vehicle.

And two of the different types of roofs that can be found in cars are the sunroof and the convertible top. But what makes these two different?

How they work

The first difference between sunroofs and convertible tops is the way they work. Just looking at cars with sunroofs and convertible tops will easily allow you to tell how different they are and how they don’t work the same way.

Sunroofs are basically windows for your car’s roof. That means that they allow light to pass through the roof in a way that is similar to how your car’s windows function. Sunroofs are also tinted to make sure that the light that enters the car’s cabin is filtered.

Like windows, sunroofs can also be slid open so that you can allow fresh air to enter the cabin. This is similar to how a window allows fresh air to enter the car but the drag is significantly less when it comes to a sunroof compared to a window.

Essentially, a car with a sunroof is just a regular car that comes with a window on the roof. There is nothing different between a car with no sunroof and another car of the same model but has a sunroof. Everything is basically the same except for the fact that the other vehicle has a sunroof.

Meanwhile, a car with a convertible top looks like a regular vehicle with a regular roof (if you have a hardtop convertible). However, what you should know is that convertibles can be converted into roofless vehicles. 

The way it works is that the roof can be folded using a feature within the car’s system so that the vehicle is essentially converted. This is why convertibles are actually called convertibles.

But different types of convertibles can work in different ways. Soft top convertibles have roofs that can easily be folded due to how soft the roof is. Meanwhile, hardtop convertibles tend to have regular car roofs that are made of aluminum or whatever the rest of the car is made of but can be folded.

Some convertibles allow the roof to hide in the compartment at the rear end of the vehicle. However, there are some convertibles that allow the roof to simply sit folded behind the head of the backseat passengers.

You should also know that convertibles are not like regular cars because they usually have differences when you compare them to non-convertible vehicles. And we are not talking about the convertible rooftop.

Usually, convertibles are either two-seaters or four-seaters. You probably won’t find a convertible that can allow more than four passengers (including the driver). On top of that, convertibles usually come with leather seats because this allows people to clean the seats easier compared to cars with fabric seats when the seats get exposed to the elements or even bird poop.

So, based on all of that, it is now easy to see how different cars with sunroofs are compared to cars with convertible tops. But we are not even done yet because we are yet to look at the purpose of these cars.

Purpose

When it comes to their purpose, sunroofs are also a bit different compared to convertible tops but they do have similarities. Some of their similarities include improved airflow and sunlight exposure. However, that is where the similarities usually end.

Sunroofs are made for the purpose of allowing more light to enter the vehicle without totally exposing the interior to the outside. This can be quite useful if you just want to rely on natural lighting in your vehicle, especially if you live in a darker and gloomy area, without having to open the vehicle to the outdoor air.

In the same way, a sunroof also allows the passengers to enjoy the view of the sky (whether it’s day or night) without getting exposed to the elements, the outside air, or anything else that can be dangerous or detrimental to your safety and comfort. This can be useful if you are driving at night and you want your passengers to enjoy the night sky without worrying about getting too exposed to what is outside.

On the other hand, a convertible top is similar to a sunroof in the sense that it also allows the passengers to rely on natural light, breathe in fresh air, and enjoy the outdoor scenery. However, the difference lies in the fact that convertible tops will completely expose everyone in the car to what is outside the vehicle. This includes getting exposed to the elements and to possible dangers and hazards.

Another thing to take note of here is that convertibles do allow people from the outside to access the car easily. This can be dangerous if you are driving on a particularly shady side of town. But, then again, convertibles tend to offer you more freedom in terms of your choice because you can always put the top back on.

So, in a way, even though sunroofs and convertible tops have similarities, they are still different. Sunroofs usually lie in the grey area because you are still inside the car but you are slightly exposing yourself to what’s outside by letting more light or air enter the car. On the other hand, convertible tops dwell in the extremes because the choice boils down to using the car with its roof on or using it without the roof.

Is a panoramic sunroof like a convertible?

Those who may not want to buy convertibles for security and practical reasons are usually the ones who go for panoramic sunroofs. However, are panoramic sunroofs just the same as convertibles?

No, panoramic sunroofs are not like convertibles because they still keep the passengers of the vehicle inside the vehicle without totally exposing them to what’s outside. This is why panoramic sunroofs tend to be more secure than convertibles. 

It is also worthy to note that panoramic sunroofs can be found in SUVs whereas convertible tops are usually found only in sedans. This means that vehicles with panoramic sunroofs can be used by an entire family.

However, a panoramic sunroof can be similar to a convertible top in the sense that the roof is almost completely made using see-through glass. This allows you to have the same experience as a convertible because you can basically see through the entire roof. Still, panoramic sunroofs keep you safe within the vehicle, and that is not something you can say about convertibles.

What are the pros and cons of having a sunroof in your car?

If you want to decide whether or not a car with a sunroof is right for you, here are some pros and cons you should look at.

Pros

  • Gives you a sense of freedom because of how “open” the vehicle feels like. It makes you feel like you are not confined inside the car.
  • Allows natural light to enter the cabin to aid you in your visibility. 
  • You can open the sunroof to allow fresh air to enter the vehicle and to improve the airflow. This can be useful when driving under warm conditions.
  • Keeps you safe within the vehicle without having to worry about getting too exposed to the outside.
  • Increases the value of your vehicle.

Cons

  • Makes the vehicle feel hotter, especially when the sun is shining so bright.
  • The glare coming from the sunlight may end up as a distraction.
  • Doesn’t have the same kind of privacy as a car without a sunroof.
  • Allows thieves one more entryway to use.
  • There is a risk of leaking, especially if you are driving in the rain.

What are the pros and cons of having a convertible?

Meanwhile, if you are planning on getting a convertible but you want to be sure of your decision, here are some pros and cons to look at:

Pros

  • Allows you to feel free and unconfined by the four corners of your vehicle. 
  • Airflow is amazing because you are simply relying on the fresh air outside.
  • Versatile in the sense that you can use it with the top on or with the top down.
  • There is usually a noticeable reduction in blind spots when you are driving a convertible. This improves your visibility while driving.

Cons

  • You are too exposed to the outside. This can be dangerous if you are driving in a hazardous place.
  • A sudden rainfall or a change in the weather could be detrimental to your driving experience.
  • There are no walls that will muffle the sound that you hear from the outside.
  • Your interior can age faster because of how exposed it is to the elements outside.
  • Security will always be an issue.

Sources

Want a Sunroof? The Pros and Cons of Having a Sunroof

Cars with Panoramic Sunroofs: Everything You Need to Know

Is a convertible right for me?