Add the Flex to the list of Ford Motor Co. vehicles that will benefit from the auto maker’s direct-injection, turbocharger technology.

The ’09 cross/utility vehicle, due in showrooms in mid-summer 2008, will launch with Ford’s Duratec 35 3.5L V-6, one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines in 2007. At a later date, Ford also will offer a premium version of the engine with DI-turbo technology, Ward’s learns.

Modeled after a powertrain concept called TwinForce, the technology is a cornerstone of Ford’s “greener miles” strategy championed by product guru Derek Kuzak. It also was highlighted by CEO Alan Mulally in his keynote address at last month’s L.A. auto show.

TwinForce enables the retention of fuel-efficient, lower-displacement engine architectures while promising the performance associated with larger, thirstier mills, Ford says. It debuted at the 2007 Detroit auto show in the Lincoln MKR concept car.

Ford declines comment on its plans for the Flex but acknowledges DI-turbo is scheduled for production in 2009 on the Lincoln MKS flagship sedan. The MKS was inspired by the MKR.

Notably, the MKS application of DI-turbo will be featured on a 3.7L Duratec 35 derivative, which will power the MKS at launch next summer.

“It’s going to migrate all over the place,” Global Insight analyst John Wolkonowicz says of the technology. “(It) seems to be the kind of thing the customer may want very much. (It) should develop impressive fuel economy and torque and deliver a good fuel economy when you don’t get into (the throttle).”

However, Ford will not retain the TwinForce name for the production technology, sources tell Ward’s.

The staggered launch cadence is consistent with other Ford product strategies.

“They do like to have something that is new in the car line every year,” Wolkonowicz says. “The best example of this is the current Mustang. There’s one or two special editions that come out every year. And that’s going to continue.”