What's the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof?

I let in light, but I’m not a window. I used to be rare, but now I’m almost as common as a radio. What am I?

The answer is a sunroof — or a moonroof, depending on whom you talk to.

Before we get specific, let’s get into a little history. The sunroof has been around in some form or another since the early days of the automobile, and the name moonroof wasn’t thrown around until the 1970s. The two terms today are, for the most part, interchangeable.

The former is a retractable roof panel that lets light and air into a vehicle, and sometimes made from an opaque material. The latter serves the same function, but is fully glass and lets in light even when closed. Modern manufacturer-offered units are fully electric and feature manual or motorized sunshades that slide underneath to keep out the sun when unwanted.

Now that that’s cleared up (is it?), here are three varieties of sun/moonroofs you will most likely run into.

Honda Civic EX moonroof inside


The built-in sunroof is arguably the most ubiquitous of all the different types. The panel slides inside the metal roof of the car and out of view, affording a generous opening at the cost of some headroom. It only fits vehicles that have a large roof to accommodate the full panel, and usually also includes a one-touch open/close button, and a tilt operation that props up the rear half to allow air ventilation. This can be found on cars like the Honda Civic and the Mazda6.

2015 Lexus RC 350 spoiler moonroof outside


For smaller vehicles that can’t accommodate a built-in sunroof, the solution is a spoiler. I’m not talking about an aerodynamic wing, but a sunroof that slides up and overtop of, rather than into, the metal roof. It still normally has the same functions as the built-in, like rear tilt. This type works perfectly for two-door sport cars like the Porsche Cayman and Lexus RC 350.

MINI Cooper S panoramic moonroof


Found more and more on newer models, a panoramic moonroof features multiple glass panels spanning much of the roof area. Often the forward-most panel will open, while the rearward sections remain fixed. An advantage of this system is that it lets in a lot of ambient light, and can provide a particularly magnificent view on a clear night. Examples of vehicles with available panoramic moonroofs include the Hyundai Santa Fe and MINI Cooper.

Car safety technology package comparison

2015 Mazda6 GT
The 2015 Mazda6 GT with the Tech Package adds many modern safety options including Smart City Brake Support. Photo by Benjamin Yong.

Like computers and cellphones, vehicles have been leaping forward in the area of tech within the last few years. A lot of the modern electronic innovation has to do with safety, whether it’s making an existing function like cruise control safer by automating part of the process, or trying to prevent accidents by giving the driver tools such as blind spot monitoring to increase awareness.

Every automaker offers some kind of safety feature suite, although they do vary somewhat from brand-to-brand and are sometimes only available on higher-level models, or as part of a larger package. Here is a comparison of what you can get from three popular manufacturers.


Toyota RAV4

After driving a vehicle with conveniences like parking aids, it’s hard to go back to doing it the old fashioned way. On the 2015 RAV4 crossover in the AWD Limited trim, customers can opt for the Technology Package (plus $2,135) that includes backup sensors that beep when you get too close to another object, helping avoid bumper dings or worse. It also comes with automatic high beams, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and lane departure alert.


2015 Infiniti Q50

The new Q50 sedan is one of the most technologically advanced cars in the market right now. For $4,300 more, Infiniti has a Deluxe Touring and Technology Package chock full of goodies like their Around View Monitor.

Using a series of strategically positioned wide-angle cameras, this system provides a 360-degree picture of the vehicle’s surroundings from a bird’s-eye view. Other additions include intelligent cruise control and front seat pre-crash seatbelts that utilize motors to ensure passengers are properly restrained.


2015 Mazda6 GT parking lot

We all know rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of accidents, and Mazda says 60 per cent of those occur at speeds of 30 km/h or less. That’s why a lot of their safety focus is around braking. The Mazda6 GT with the $2,800 Technology Package adds Smart City Brake Support. 

Mazda Smart City Brake Support

At low speeds, a laser sensor mounted on the windshield monitors the vehicle in front. If the computer detects a collision risk, the brakes are preloaded for maximum efficiency. If the driver doesn’t intervene, the brakes are automatically applied and engine output isreduced. 

Vehicle smart key: how does it work?

Looking for cars with push button start? Shop online here at OpenRoad Auto Group for all of our push button start cars.

If you’re thinking that this is an article about keys that can surf the Internet or make phone calls, you’re not quite right. But that doesn’t make these little devices that enable you to unlock your doors and start your vehicle without the use of a physical key any less innovative.

Also referred to as proximity keys or simply key fobs/remotes — each brand has a different name for their specific systems — smart keys have been around since the 1990s, although they were a feature found primarily on high-end luxury automobiles at the time.

How does it work?

BMW Comfort Access System

The smart key uses radio waves to “talk” to the matching vehicle containing embedded antennas that identify and confirm its presence. On some models, like newer BMWs (Comfort Access), when the key comes within 1.5 metres of the driver’s car, the door automatically locks or unlocks with a touch of the door handle. In the case of the above image, the tailgate lifts by waving a foot underneath the rear bumper.

Once inside, simply pressing the ignition button, usually located next to the steering column, starts the vehicle. Some smart keys, like those from BMW, can also store individual user settings so the seat, mirrors, steering wheel and even audio preferences are automatically adjusted by pressing a single button.

Honda engine start button


Rather than a smart key sending out the same frequency signal over and over, which would affect all the makes and models utilizing the same key, not to mention make it easier for tech-savvy thieves to steal cars, smart keys broadcast a different encrypted signal every time you unlock a door or remotely pop the trunk.

A computer chip located inside the car is responsible for receiving the signal and prompting a new frequency to be generated. Of course, nothing is foolproof, and manufacturers are constantly working at making their technology more secure.


opening car door

The most obvious plus of a smart key system is convenience. You don’t have to be holding the key in your hand to enjoy the features, and many people love the fact that they can keep it in their pocket or bag without having to reach in and dig around before getting into vehicle.


By the same token, there have been instances (writing from personal experience) where a driver hands a car over to another user and walks away, forgetting that the smart key is still on his or her person.

BMW emergency key

On models that don’t have an automatic proximity unlock function, if the battery in the fob dies, opening a locked door can be tricky. Luckily, almost all fobs should have a small metal key hidden inside that can be used to unlock the driver’s door via a keyhole often concealed underneath a removable plastic cap near the door handle.

To get a better visual of a smart key in action, here is a video illustrating the Intelligent Key system on the Infiniti Q50. 

Top three Valentine's Day two-seater sports cars

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe S
This Valentine’s Day, surprise a loved one with a two-door sports car, like this red Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Photos by Benjamin Yong/Andrew Ling.

Overpriced flowers, hearts in store windows and pink everything — love is definitely in the air this week. If you really want to surprise your partner this Valentine’s Day, skip the chocolates and snuggle up to a loved one in one of the following brand new two-seaters instead.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Metallic

With much fanfare, Mazda showed sports car nuts around the world what the new Miata is going to look like months back (shown here in the very romantic Soul Red Metallic), but not many other details had been released. Until recently, that is.

In early February, it was revealed the update of the legendary roadster will have 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft — slower than the outgoing 2015 model with 167 hp — but will also be 100 kilograms lighter. It should arrive in stores sometime this summer, perfect for blasting down country roads top down with your significant other.

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe R

Nothing says “I love you” like a shiny new Jaguar in the driveway. There are all kinds features to get you in the mood, like the ambient interior lighting with five colour choices; dual zone climate control to heat things up or cool them back down; and a Meridian 10-speaker premium audio sound system to enjoy whatever music the situation calls for.

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe S interior

There are three different trims too to fit your budget: the standard supercharged V6 F-Type with 340 hp (starting at $72,900), the S that bumps up the horsepower to 380 (starting at $84,900) and the mighty V8 550 hp R pictured above (from $109,900).

2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

For that eco-supercar-enthusiast in your life, put your name on the waitlist for Porsche’s brand new hyper hybrid for two: the 918 Spyder. See this segment where Richard Hammond treats himself to an up-close-and-personal drive of the vehicle on everyone’s favourite automotive television series, Top Gear.

OpenRoad hosted an unveiling of Porsche’s halo car last week at the Langley dealership featuring one that was sold to a local customer for a cool mill. The price tag might seem hefty, but this is what you get for your money: net 887 hp, the ability to run in an electric-only mode, a top speed of 350 km/h and a 0 to 100 km/h time of just over 2 seconds.

2016 Mazda2: KODO-fied

The 2016 Mazda2 has been completely overhauled using Mazda’s KODO design. Here’s a first look before the car launches late 2015. 

Cars from SEMA part three

SEMA Show 2016 Global MX-5 Cup car
The car to be used in the Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racing series, above, was revealed at the Las Vegas SEMA Show. Photos by Zak Tang.

To kick off the Las Vegas SEMA Show earlier this month, an automotive trade show that brings together aftermarket parts industry representatives from all over the world, an awards ceremony was held to crown the industry’s hottest vehicles.

Accepting the title of Hottest Sport Compact was the new Honda Fit, the small four-door hatchback recently entering its third generation. The company brought out nine personalized versions of the subcompact — six were built by tuners for the 2015 Fit Performance Project and documented on the social networking website Tumblr.

Sema Show Spoon Sports USA 2015 Honda Fit

Honda performance specialist Spoon Sports USA created the Super Taikyu (Endurance) Fit, unmistakable due to the heavily featured signature blue and yellow paint scheme. Not surprisingly, most of the new parts “fitted” on the car are made by Spoon, including a titanium exhaust, brake rotors, calipers, pads and lines, suspension, aero mirrors and sunroof delete. The body aero, though, is made by Honda, and the wheels are 15×7 CE28 Club Racers by Volk Racing.

SEMA Show Bisimoto 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai collaborated with Bisimoto Engineering for the third consecutive time to build something that not only looks good, but more importantly, goes fast to show at SEMA. This year, it’s a 700-plus horsepower sedan. Using the 2015 Sonata as a canvas, the original 2.4-litre engine has been massaged with forged pistons, a high-revving valve train, high-boost turbocharger and more. The exterior features a custom laminated body wrap, body kit, 18-inch wheels and a Burns stainless steel exhaust system.

SEMA Show Bisimoto 2015 Hyundai Sonata engine

Roadster enthusiasts the world over held their collective breath when the redesigned 2016 Mazda MX-5 was revealed in September. After having the question ‘What will it look like?” answered, the next most popular query was “Where will it race?” At a global announcement during SEMA, Mazda responded with the announcement of a new 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racing series to take place in North America, Europe and Asia.

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

Although Mazda provided no information on specs or equipment other than confirming a 2.0 L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine will be used, they did have a cup car on display. Enjoy the pictures.

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

Spring into a convertible with the Roadster, MX-5 or R8 Spyder

The fine line between the end of winter and the start of spring is often blurred. It still rains more often than not, and you just can’t get yourself to pack away the jackets quite yet. And with summer approaching quickly, you start to notice the faint smell of barbecue wafting in your window, and then the first firm sign appears — convertibles of all shapes and colours begin flooding the streets.

For the 2014 model year, there is no shortage of new drop tops offered by manufacturers ranging from mild to wild. Here are a few favourite picks to hit the open road with this start of the warm season.

Mini Cooper Roadster

MINI Cooper Roadster

With great handling due to its short wheelbase, cute looks and the choice of three powerplants, there’s a lot to like about the MINI Cooper Roadster. Starting at MSRP $28,900, it’s available in standard trim with 121 horsepower, the more powerful Cooper S with 181 hp, and my personal favourite, the John Cooper Works edition with 208 hp and 192 pound-feet of torque. All models still get great gas mileage as well with the latter rated at 7.7 L/100 km in the city and 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.

2014 Audi R8 Spyder

Audi R8 Convertible

On the other end of the spectrum, the Audi R8 Spyder Convertible is made to impress. For an MSRP of $148,000, you get a 4.2-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 430 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, 19-inch wheels and a six-speed manual transmission. Or, step up to the $182,000 V10 model for a horsepower and torque bump up to 525 and 430 lb-ft, respectively. New for 2014 is an optional S tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox that will launch the V10 from 0 to 100 km/h in under 3.5 seconds.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5

Time is winding down for consumers to pick up the third generation of arguably the most popular roadster in history: the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Introduced in 1989, the first iteration alone sold over 400,000 units. The modern version retains much of that classic two-seater sports car feel with a rear-wheel drive layout, a high-revving 167-hp engine and an available six-speed transmission. Enthusiasts should be on the lookout for a new Miata based on a completely redesigned chassis coming soon.

Besides these examples, there are plenty of other open-air options available. Visit openroadautogroup.com/new-cars for a complete list.