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Is the Panoramic Sunroof Here to Stay?

By Jordan Scott


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Panoramic Sunroof

 

If you’re looking to buy a new car with a panoramic sunroof, you’ll have to count out the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai scrapped the feature in all of its 2018 Sonata models as part of a redesign.

The official reason, as listed on the Hyundai USA website, is to improve “weight and real world fuel economy.”

Though it’s hard not to think that Hyundai was mindful of its October 2016 recall of nearly 63,000 vehicles. The mid-size sedan’s panoramic sunroof is alleged to have posed a danger to other vehicles on the road because it could fly off of the car while in motion.

Hyundai hasn’t completely eliminated the feature though. The 2018 Elantra GT and 2018 Santa Fe Sport both still have the panoramic sunroof as an option.

Many customers have complained about panoramic sunroofs across all makes and models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website lists 41 complaints about panoramic sunroofs since August 2016. Could other automakers also begin to scrap the panoramic sunroof feature? Here are the pros and cons of the panoramic sunroof to help you decide if you want the feature included with your next vehicle.

Pros:

  1. The Black Roof – Many people love the look of a black roof on a vehicle. Panoramic sunroofs were a big contributors to this trend. Drivers want the look, and what better way to achieve it than by purchasing a vehicle with a tinted panoramic sunroof. The trend is like a Möbius strip, feeding into itself. It would be hard for automakers to pass up the opportunity to upsell a feature that’s already in demand. Plus, that demand leads to more advances in panoramic sunroof technology.
  1. That Open Feel – The main reason to buy a vehicle with a panoramic sunroof is to enjoy riding in the vehicle with the top open. You don’t have to commit to the maintenance of a full-on convertible, and you get to enjoy more sun than in a vehicle with a conventional sunroof. Panoramic sunroofs are the next step in leisurely driving.
  1. Not Just For Luxury Vehicles – You’ll see more and more mass-market vehicles sporting panoramic sunroofs than you did in the past. The demand for the luxury feature has been answered by auto makers with lower cost offerings. The panoramic sunroof is an option for the 2018 Kia Optima S, which has a starting MSRP of $23,500. The 2017 Volkswagen Golf has a panoramic sunroof option, and has a starting MSRP of $ 19,895.
  1. Cooling Down – If you get back to your vehicle on a hot, summer day to find that the inside of your vehicle is scorching, opening the panoramic sunroof will allow for heat to escape quicker.

Cons:

  1. Heat Gain – The reason Hyundai removed the panoramic sunroof from its line of 2018 Sonatas could be due, in part, to its contribution to the interior’s temperature in areas with hotter climates. A glass roof lets more sun in which can make the internal temperature of the vehicle higher than it would be without a glass roof. This could mean that the air conditioning may have to work harder to bring the internal temperature down.
  1. Noise Complaints – Noise is the biggest complaint about panoramic sunroofs across the board. The heavy sunroof glass can rattle against its parts while in motion, creating an annoying noise for many consumers. Many drivers chose to handle the problem themselves with store-bought lubricants, while others take their cars into the dealership for a (hopefully) permanent solution. It’s nearly impossible to create a complete seal between the sunroof’s components and the frame of a vehicle, especially in aftermarket sunroofs. Complaints like these could lead to a decrease in demand for vehicles with panoramic sunroofs, or it could lead to better technology before drivers lose interest.Another popular noise complaint is that rain sounds louder falling onto a glass roof rather than a normal vehicle roof. That type of additional noise could drive away some customers, but is unlikely to make a big impact on the panoramic sunroof market overall.
  1. Added Maintenance – A panoramic sunroof adds to the list of parts drivers have to maintain throughout the life of their vehicle. Time could show that drivers grow tired of any added maintenance and are less likely to buy another vehicle with a panoramic sunroof.
  1. Safety Concerns – Hyundai and Ford have both issued panoramic sunroof recalls in the past year. Both recalls arose from the possibility of the panoramic sunroofs flying off vehicles.“The sunroof assembly incorporates a wind deflector to help reduce wind noise in the passenger compartment when the sunroof is open. If the wind deflector becomes partially detached from its mounting bracket while the sunroof is open, the deflector can interfere with the closing of the moveable sunroof panel. In some cases this interference can result in the sunroof panel detaching from its mounting tabs,” according to the NHTSA recall notice.Ford attributed the recall to “… an improper bond [which] may exist between the panoramic roof and the vehicle body, resulting in wind noise, water leaks and, in some cases, separation from the vehicle. If the entire panoramic roof separates from the vehicle while driving, it can increase the risk of crash or injury.”

    Hyundai is facing a lawsuit in California due to a claim that one of its panoramic sunroofs exploded and that glass fell into the vehicle. There have also been driver complaints about panoramic sunroofs shattering or dislodging from other auto manufacturers’ vehicles.

    Nissan is also battling multiple lawsuits in regard to exploding panoramic sunroofs. Drivers allege that the sunroofs explode spontaneously while driving at highway speeds.

    You can read more about potential causes of sunroof shattering on Glass.com.

  1. Fuel Economy – Improved fuel economy is one of the two reasons Hyundai listed for axing the 2018 Sonata’s panoramic sunroof. A comparison of the 2017 Sonata 2.OT to the newest model, their listed miles per gallon increased by two, from 24 mpg combined (city and highway) to 26 mpg combined.

If you’re in need of replacement glass for your vehicle’s sunroof or panoramic sunroof, use Glass.com to find a company near you. And be sure to check back for more information about the latest updates in the auto glass industry.

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