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Four great cars for back-to-school 2013

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Danny Moloshok/Reuters/File

(Read caption) The 2013 Ford Flex is seen at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles in 2011. With its roomy interior, wealth of entertainment options, and high safety rating, the Flex is the ideal vehicle for carting around a group of elementary school children.

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It's finally that time of year--when schoolgoers of all ages get very sad, when parents breathe a sigh of relief.

It's time to go back to school, and the kids are almost set: tablets, new sneakers, a sweet backpack. 

Wait, did you forget something? How about a new set of wheels? School time is a great time to consider a new car, because a new model year brings bigger discounts on the outgoing models. Never mind that; it's the perfect chance to show off in the pickup lane.

While you make one last back-to-school shopping list--cars to test-drive--we'll let you share our notes. We've picked our top choices for back-to-school vehicles, for every stage of education, from kindergarten to passing the bar. And in each case, we've picked some of the safest, most value-packed vehicles you can buy.

Elementary School: 2014 Ford Flex

You need something that makes the wheels go round and round with maximum safety, a minimum of fuss, and the most entertainment per mile. How about something that actually looks like a bus? The top-rated Ford Flex wagon is stuffed with its DVD entertainment systems, Bluetooth streaming, and excellent crash-test scores. The only thing missing? Maybe a coat of school-bus yellow paint.

2014 Dodge Grand Caravan

Middle School: 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan

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