There’s something in cars that’s getting very, very big

Panoramic sunroof
Like a vast mirror … Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Most cars are bigger than they used to be. A Honda Civic is now as large as an old Accord. Ditto the Toyota Corolla, when compared with the Camry.

It goes without saying that the Cadillac Escalade is, frankly, huge.

It’s joined in giant-ness by the Lincoln Navigator and some hulking Range Rovers.

But once you go inside a vehicle, most features aren’t all that enormous, compared with older models.

In fact, some old cars actually have bigger knobs and dials; automakers have crammed more functions into their newer cars and trucks, so the controls need to be comparably smaller.

But there’s one aspect of being inside an SUV or crossover especially that does serve up a mighty portion of big, it’s up on the roof.

Or rather, in the roof.

Sunroof Skitch

A sun- or moonroof used to be a small cutout section in the top of your ride. In some cars, it still is. But in many new luxury cars, the entire roof of the vehicle is clear to the heavens. The entire thing doesn’t always open, but everyone can now look up and see the stars. Small children are dazzled when they get their first glimpse of one of these things.

For example, we recently sampled a diesel Range Rover, which featured the largest “panoramic” sunroof I’ve ever seen. It was almost as if the car had no roof. We also experienced, and enjoyed, a ginormous sunroof on an Audi Q7 SUV. And that’s just in the past month or so. Numerous other cars that we checked out in 2015 had the feature. My children sit back there are are agog with wonder and delight.

Business Insider’s Transportation team is seeing this on numerous vehicles these days, notably those aiming for luxury buyers. (The option is also available on less expensive cars, however.) If it isn’t standard, the option can add thousands to the price tag.

Panoramic sunroof
It’s a big world out there. Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

It makes an, ahem, HUGE different when riding in a car, particularly if you’re in the back seat. Call it a cure for rolling claustrophobia.

Ultimately, this feature represents an ongoing trend in cars: open them up to the outside, if only visually, without having to turn, for example, an SUV into a convertible. Over time, we should expect car companies to push the envelope on glass, striving to avoid as much as they can anything that blocks the view of the great outdoors.

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