Whether you call it a sunroof or moonroof, that extra window in the roof of a car has become a standard feature on a lot of models. Meant to provide extra light and ventilation, these little openings let drivers feel the wind in their hair even if the car isn't a convertible -- but there are a few disadvantages to having what amounts to a covered hole in the roof. When you're in the market for a new car, you need to decide if the sunroof is a perk, a necessity, something you can ignore, or a deal-breaker.
Extra Ventilation, Plus Warmth on a Cold Day
On the good side of sunroofs are the extra ventilation you get when you open them; they let you have a second window open when the other passengers in your car don't want their windows open right by their faces. This helps let out odors and let in fresh air, and on a nice day, it can make the interior of the car feel really nice.
On cold, sunny days, too, you can keep the glass panel itself closed but open the interior solid panel (the one that hides the glass panel from view from the inside). That lets the sunlight through and helps warm up the car, which is useful if you want to keep the heater itself off.
Leaks and Aerodynamics
On the other hand, though, are some practical issues that you can't ignore. Sunroofs are generally well-installed and don't leak, but if something happens to make the panel go out of alignment, then you can get leaks when it rains. If the problem is just a damaged piece of weatherstripping, that can be replaced easily and affordably. But other repairs would be more expensive.
Another issue would be aerodynamics and gas mileage when the panels are open. Whether the glass panel retracts or rises up, you have an extra obstacle in terms of aerodynamics when you're trying to drive at freeway speeds. Like driving at those speeds with all your car windows open, the force of the air rushing in through the open sunroof can affect your gas mileage by providing resistance.
So if you absolutely need the extra ventilation, or you prefer to keep your heater off, a sunroof would be a valuable feature. But if you never plan to open it and don't want the risk of leaks, it's not such a good choice. And if you want to get the best gas mileage possible, a sunroof is not an optimal feature.
When you search for new cars for sale, ask about the different trim packages that might come with sunroofs. That will help narrow down the choice of models you'll want to look at.