Automotive App of the Week: RoadAhead


Have you ever stopped off the highway for a quick caffeine jolt — and then wanted to toss the bitter-tasting brew out the window as you whiz by a Starbucks five minutes down the road? By promising travelers an easy way to plan for pit stops, the free RoadAhead app for iPhone, iPad and iPhone Touch claims you'll never have to settle for a weak convenience-store cup of joe if your favorite flavored latte awaits two exits ahead.

And with gas prices at an all-time high, you can also use the app to comparison shop for fuel before pulling off the exit ramp, or to make sure that the lowest-priced regular is within range of what's left in your tank.

While you can get some of this info on an in-dash or portable navigation system or from a smartphone nav app, RoadAhead has a few unique features that make it stand out.

For example, because it knows the direction you’re heading, searches are tailored to what's coming up in the next few exits — not based on what’s behind you. And available services are grouped in order of upcoming exits and the info is presented in an easy-to-read list showing distance/direction from the exit and user ratings and prices, if available. You can tap on an entry to get info such as the address and phone number, and restaurant entries feature Yelp reviews to let you know what you and your stomach are getting into.

The app offers a broad range of categories: shopping, pets, parks, coffee, fast food, fun, dining, auto repair, hotels, groceries, ATMs and more. And you can "multi-tag" categories so that if you’re running late to see your sweetheart and, say, want to buy flowers, purchase a bottle of wine and wash your wheels before reaching your destination, the app will find the nearest exit that offers all three services.