According to Macmillan Dictionary, 'up ahead' means 'not far in front,' while 'way' means 'far'.

We are accustomed to thinking of light as always going in straight lines. But it doesn’t. This is manifest when you view a mirage on a long straight highway on a hot day. The road looks wet way up ahead because light from the sky refracts, bending as it crosses the many successive layers of warm air near the surface of the road, until it heads back up to your eye.

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    What is the source? My guess would be "coming up (visible) but not so close". Probably this is literary not regular usage.
    – user3169
    May 9 '18 at 22:55
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    I don’t think “not far in front” is a very good definition of “up ahead”. I think “in front of” would be better. A truck could be a mile in front of me, and there would be nothing wrong with me saying, “I see a truck up ahead.”
    – J.R.
    May 10 '18 at 1:31

"way up ahead" does mean "far in front".

"up ahead" can be either "not far in front" or "in front". It implies you are travelling and will arrive, probably soon, at the object which is "up ahead".

From https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/up-ahead.20480/

"Up ahead" means that something is coming up, or ahead of you.
Ex: Pull over at the gas station up ahead, so we can fill up the tank.
Or you might see a sign that says "Stop sign up ahead".

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