Sunroofs: Is There a Sunny Side to Having a Hole in Your Roof?

With the release of the Dodge Challenger Demon 170, the enthusiast community at large is once again on the topic of sunroofs. That’s because Dodge will run you a hilarious $9,995 to tick the sunroof option box on a Demon 170. Normally, having a sunroof in your run-of-the-mill SUV, CUV, or other is a value add. Most folks would love a little extra light and air in their commutes.
Kia EV6 sunroof 6 photos
Photo: Kia
Kia EV6 sunroofDodge Challenger Demon 170BMW M3 E46Genesis G90Kia EV9
However, when you’re a car enthusiast buying and selling within an enthusiast market, the waters can become a little more muddied, as we’ve seen recently with the aforementioned Demon 170. So, now seems an appropriate time to get into those muddy waters.

The case for the sunroof

As I’d said above, most folks really like a sunroof. Why not, right? The modern world has beaten nature back, and the opportunity to let some of the outside in makes sense for a lot of people. Plus, if you live somewhere that has four seasons, you’re getting a lot of the benefits of a drop-top without the drawbacks. A hardtop car with a sunroof is far quieter on the highway than a ‘vert, for starters. There’s also no expensive mechanical top operation to break. Ok, so busting up your sunroof can be expensive, too. That’s a wash, then.

Kia EV9
Photo: Kia
Still, the argument stands, at least for most cars. Sure, the average sunroof can add quite a bit of weight. Will most people care when their car already weighs close to two tons? Not a bit. Brands like them too. A big glass roof adds some extra “luxury” feel to a car that’ll help move units. Remember how stoked people were on the greenhouse in Teslas back in 2015? In contrast, a car without a sunroof may feel a little barren to some buyers. Plus, they bring in a bit more cash for brands as an optional extra.

In the majority of situations, this is a perfectly symbiotic relationship between dealers and consumers. Buyers get some extra luxury-ish features and some fresh air and sunlight, and the dealer/OEM gets to rake in a few extra bucks in exchange for very little effort. Of course, all these shifts when you talk to an enthusiast.

The case against the sunroof

There are generally two leading arguments against the sunroof from enthusiasts. One of which Dodge has championed with the Demon 170. Dodge has said it doesn’t want the buyers of the 170 going against the “ethos” of the vehicle. The car runs 9s and the extra weight from a sunroof interferes with an already heavy car’s performance. So, in order to combat any untoward specifications from buyers, Dodge has made the sunroof prohibitively expensive.

At $9,995, the skylight in your Demon 170 is almost eight times as expensive as ordering one in your Hellcat. And even that is a bit pricey, as a number of other cars at this price point have a sunroof as standard. Obviously, the largest argument against one for enthusiasts is weight. A sports car is supposed to be stripped down. I’m ignoring that sports cars in general have gotten heavier, less involving, and more digital over the years for the sake of brevity.

Argument numero dos is that a sunroof eats into headroom. In a smaller sports car that some taller folk may already struggle to fit in, the loss of two to four inches of headroom compared to a slicktop is a lot to swallow. That’s doubly true when a brand wants you to pay for the luxury of a literal glass ceiling on your sports car. To boot, the loss of headroom may also mean you can’t track your car. Most tracks require drivers to wear helmets, and the lost headroom may mean you just don’t fit anymore.

The lack of a sunroof may be a rare option on some cars. For whatever reason, loads of E46 BMW M3s were ordered with one. However, ones that aren’t now command a premium as a result – doubly so if a rarer color like Phoenix Yellow was also ordered.

BMW M3 E46
Photo: BMW

Where does that leave the sunroof?

For the enthusiast, your preference for having a sunroof can vary depending on the factors I’ve discussed here. Taller car nuts may not want to risk banging their heads in a car they have lusted after for years. Track rats will want the clearance for a helmet and the lower weight/center of gravity that a metal roof brings to the table.

Personally, a sunroof is a huge positive for myself. Being able to crack it open to hear the exhaust better is a huge benefit, especially when my personal cars are tracked so infrequently. I happen to live in a sunny climate, and having a sunroof to help warm my car in the winter is a huge plus as well. On top of that, I’m built like a 1/3 scale model of Homo Sapiens, so headroom isn’t an issue. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you drive, who you are, and what you want from your car.

Dodge Challenger Demon 170
Photo: Dodge
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About the author: Chase Bierenkoven
Chase Bierenkoven profile photo

Chase's first word was "truck," so it's no wonder he's been getting paid to write about cars for several years now. In his free time, Chase enjoys Colorado's great outdoors in a broken German sports car of some variety.
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