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Nitro ZV18 (2015-)

1 x 200-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke

Brief Summary

The new 2015 Nitro ZV 18 is a slightly smaller version of the already acclaimed ZV 21. Nitro designed the ZV 18 for the multi-species fishing angler, meaning multi-tackle, multi-bait, multi-livewell and multi-rod stowage. Owned by Bass Pro Shops, the builder knows what it takes to catch the trophies in large lakes where muskie, pike, lake trout, and walleyes reside. Nitro’s new 17-degree deadrise at the transom is a reasonable compromise between a flatter bottom for more speed and a deeper V for better riding in a nasty chop. This design should allow her owner to travel into bigger water in a bit more comfort, while keeping passengers dry, and ensuring a safe return to port should conditions arise. For those looking for a multi-purpose fishing boat, the ZV 18 also comes with an optional wrap around windshield and tow pylon for watersports and added family fun.

Key Features

  • Deep V performance hull with lifting strakes
  • Transverse and longitudinal fiberglass foam-filled stringer system
  • 2 lift-out, molded aft storage boxes for tackle trays
  • 26-gal. aft livewell with bait bucket and 5.5-gal. insulated bow baitwell with removable bucket
  • 3-level center rod locker with organizers for rods up to 8'
  • Bow and aft lockable storage compartments
  • Dual consoles with bracket-mounted Lowrance Mark-5x Pro fishfinder
  • Gunnels designed to maximize interior space
  • Minn Kota PowerDrive 24V, 70-lb. thrust and foot-control trolling motor with Universal Sonar 2
  • Custom factory-matched trailer with No Touch Vortex hubs

Test Results

700 3.1 2.7 0.3 10.33 8.99 419 364 70
1000 4.5 3.9 0.65 6.92 6.02 280 244 71
1500 6.5 5.7 1.5 4.33 3.77 176 153 79
2000 7.9 6.9 3.05 2.59 2.25 105 91 86
2500 11.9 10.3 4.85 2.45 2.13 99 86 89
3000 22.8 19.8 5.75 3.96 3.44 160 139 91
3500 27.9 24.2 7.3 3.82 3.32 155 134 93
4000 32.4 28.2 10.1 3.21 2.79 130 113 92
4500 36.9 32.1 12.75 2.89 2.52 117 102 96
5000 41.4 36 15.95 2.59 2.25 105 91 94
5500 46.5 40.4 18.35 2.53 2.2 103 89 95


Length Overall 18' 11'' / 5.77 m
Beam 102''
2.59 m
Dry Weight 2,300 lbs.
1,043 kg
Tested Weight 2,990 lbs.
1,356 kg
Draft 19.75''
0.50 m
Deadrise/Transom 17-deg.
Max Headroom open
Bridge Clearance N/A
Fuel Capacity 45 gal.
170 L
Water Capacity N/A
Total Weight 2,990 lbs.
1,356 kg


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Acceleration Times & Conditions

Time to Plane 3.4 sec.
0 to 30 6.5 sec.
Ratio 1.75:1
Props 18'' Enertia
Load 2 persons, full fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
Climate 75 deg., 80 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm

Engine Options

Tested Engine 1 x 200-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke
Std. Power 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke
Opt. Power 1 x 150-hp Mercury XL OptiMax Pro XS
1 x 200-hp Mercury XL OptiMax
1 x 200-hp Mercury XL Verado

Captain's Report

Nitro ZV 18 running shot

Nitro’s ZV18 has a LOA of 18’11” (5.77 m), a beam of 102” (2.59 m) and a draft of 19.75” (.50 m). An optional wrap-around windshield is pictured above ($600), rather than the standard twin console pod acrylic windshields that come standard.

Mission Statement

With her taller hullsides, deep cockpit and higher windscreens, the Nitro ZV18 is a multi-species fishing boat designed to navigate a broader variety of waterways and to keep passengers comfortable when conditions get rough.
Packaged with a Mercury outboard motor, a trailer and a healthy complement of fishing equipment, including a trolling motor, fishfinder and livewell systems, she’s also intended to provide lots of bang for the buck. Buyers who want to make the boat more cruising or family-friendly can choose among options targeted at that purpose.

Major Features

• Illuminated bow storage compartments (manual)

• Dual consoles with Lowrance Mark-5x Pro fishfinder, and easy-to-read instrumentation

• Patent-pending port net storage

• Re-locatable fold-down molded fishing seat with pedestal

• Full-width fiberglass-encapsulated composite transom designed for optional kicker motor

• Optional ski pylon and walkthrough windshield

• Limited transferable 10-year warranty on the hull, and one-year warranty on interior components.

Nitro ZV 18 floorplanNitro ZV 18 storage floorplan

The ZV18 has more than sufficient storage for multi-species fishing. Notice how the fore and aft deck close flush to create raised platforms for casting.

Features Inspection


The ZV18 fishing experience starts at the bow with an elevated casting deck featuring pull-up cleats, and fixed safety rails on both sides. Directly forward is a standard Minn Kota PowerDrive 24V, 70-lb., thrust, 60” composite shaft, with foot-control trolling motor and Universal Sonar 2. We like that Nitro built in a pedal recess that accommodates the foot pedal and holds it securely in place.

Optional trolling motors

are available with an added thrust of up to 112-lbs., should one be concerned about current or wind exposure ($1,245). Optional bow graphs are also available in addition to the standard Mark-5x Pro found at the dash.

Nitro ZV 18 rails

Standard dual stainless steel safety rails and dual pull-up cleats line the gunwale on the foredeck. Notice how the safety rails are indented decreasing the chances of snagging a line or net.

Nitro ZV 18 trolling motor

The builder designed a recess on the foredeck for the trolling motor foot control, increasing user stability. We also like that the bow panel contains a trolling motor receptacle, an anchor light and trim switch. An optional HDS 9 Lowrance bow graph ($3,625) is installed directly to the right on an adjustable mount for optimal viewing.

Working our way back we find two lockable dry lockers with standard manual LED lights. On the starboard is a 5.5-gallon (20.82 L) insulated bow baitwell with removable bucket. Each well has positive latching for added security underway and all the hatches on the boat are reinforced with aluminum on the underside. On the port side there is an optional cooler with removable tray for easy access and clean up.

A standard removable bike-seat

with pedestal is mounted directly behind the trolling motor foot control. When all hatches are closed the bow turns into a flush platform with 22-oz. marine-grade, cut pile carpet that is easily navigated by multiple fisherman.

Nitro ZV 18 cooler

An optional self-draining bow cooler is available on the port side with a removable tray for easy access and disposal.

Nitro ZV 18 dry storage

Dual dry storage lockers are fitted with locking hatches, and built-in manual LED lights. Each hatch is supported with a gas assist arm and reinforced with an aluminum hat section for added strength.

Nitro ZV 18 bait well

A 5.5-gallon (20.82 L) insulated bow baitwell with removable bucket comes standard on the ZV 18. Beneath the bucket, the actual well has soft curve edges and a light blue interior, keeping the bait calm and reducing shadows in the tank.

Nitro ZV 18 bike seat

A standard bike seat on a fixed pedestal is designed so the operator can easily reach the trolling foot pedal. We’d like to see another mounting location farther forward for anglers with shorter legs.

Nitro ZV 18 raised platform

With all the hatches closed, the foredeck has space for a couple of anglers to fish comfortably.


The cockpit of the ZV18 starts to show more of the multi-use functionality that Nitro advertises, offering an optional wrap-around windshield ($600), as well as a premier Sony Sound System ($600). These features appeal to a family looking to get more functionality from its investment, as do the LED cockpit courtesy lights that come standard on the ZV18 and are dispersed throughout the cockpit.

On the port side

a carpeted lockable glove compartment has a stainless grab rail and there’s a patent pending integrated net holder for quick access. In the center of the bow casting deck, Nitro engineered a locking three-tier rod compartment with built-in organizers that can reportedly fit close to thirty rods. Directly beneath the locker a convenient fold-out storage compartment fits dual tackle trays.

Three adjustable pedestal seats

are included in the Nitro cockpit, one of which folds down and can be relocated, depending on the user’s needs and desired layout. In the center of the boat a lockable battery compartment contains three standard batteries and room for an extra one, leaving plenty of juice for trolling.

Nitro ZV 18 wind screen

We like the extra tall acrylic windscreens that are far better than the stubby little ones we usually find in a boat of this class. Note that the contours and corners of the console are rounded to soften the blow when hit by thighs or arms.

Nitro ZV 18 storage

Added storage is found directly beneath the portside console. We liked the footrest for added comfort.

Nitro ZV 18 pedestal seat

The patented net holder is pictured above, along with one of the three pedestal seats mounted in the ZV 18’s cockpit. She has a freeboard of 25.5’’ (.64 m) and standard stainless steel rails that wrap-around the cockpit for added safety.

Nitro ZV 18 three tier holder

The built-in three-tier rod holder with organizers is held up by two gas assist arms. Notice the dual locks on the hatch for security. An indent on the bulkhead is hand sized and allows the operator to easily lift the hatch without pinching fingers.

Nitro ZV 18 tackle holder

A built-in dual tackle tray locker is located directly beneath the rod locker.

Nitro ZV 18 battery locker

The battery locker contains three standard batteries as well as room for an additional specialized deep cycle battery.

Nitro ZV 18 third seat

The third additional seat in the back folds down and can be relocated to another spot in the cockpit or in the aft casting deck.


At the helm station we find everything the captain needs to navigate the ZV18 to the fishing destination of choice. The dashboard is clear and organized with optional SmartCraft gauges, as well as a standard bracket mounted Lowrance Mark-5x Pro fishfinder. The black color treatment looks good and will help reduce glare on the instruments.
Nitro leaves room for additional electronics should the buyer choose to add them. To the right we find stainless steel waterproof toggle switches controlling everything from lights to livewells. All of these components are covered under a master power switch located directly to the right. A custom hydraulic tilt steering wheel and adjustable helm seat adds to the overall comfort of the helm station.

Underneath the dash

, the builder added storage shelves as well as a recess for an optional hot foot pedal. Directly to the right, engineers designed a built-in drink and tool holder.

Nitro ZV 18 helm dashboard

The dashboard configuration pictured above contains an optional Lowrance HDS-7 GPS. Nitro offers several different packages, all of which are available on the company’s website.

Nitro ZV 18 helm storage

Underneath the helm station there is a shelf for added storage, as well as an indent/recess for an optional foot throttle.

Nitro ZV 18 switch panel

The switch panel directly to the right contains stainless steel waterproof toggle switches, all controlled through a master toggle switch seen in the upper left corner. Also note how the two primary gauges are mounted slightly to the right of the rest for added visibility.

Nitro ZV 18 tool holder

The integrated cup and tool holder next to the helm station is a clever feature that offers easy access to essential gear. Also note the 12-volt power adapter just above the tool panel.


Moving aft, an elevated casting deck surrounded by dual pull-up cleats houses a livewell, additional baitwell, and dual lift-out storage boxes that will accept seven 3700 Series tackle trays. An anti-slosh baitwell is contained in an insulated 26-gallon (98.42 L) Guardian livewell with an automatic recirculation feature.
Like the baitwell on the foredeck, the aft well has soft curve edges and light blue interior to keep the fish calm and to reduce shadows in the tank. All wells on the ZV18 are secured with spring loaded positive latches for added security while underway. On each side of the aft deck is a large hatch that opens to reveal a removable plastic tub with dedicated slots for seven 3700 Series tackle boxes.

When all hatches

are closed, the aft casting deck is flush with all recessed stainless steel hardware. For families interested in watersports, an additional pedestal is built into the aft casting deck, with an easy access hatch in the motor well for mounting an optional ski pylon ($345). All livewell plumbing is also accessible through the hatch in the motor well.
Because the ZV18 can carry up to four batteries, Nitro built in an exterior receptacle that attaches to an onboard battery charger for additional charging assistance. The receptacle is located on the starboard directly below the removable stern light.

Nitro ZV 18 stern deck

When all the hardware and hatches are down, an angler has a flush, supported deck to walk around on for casting. Notice again that all the hardware is recessed.

Nitro ZV 18 livewell

The 26-gallon (98 L) livewell holds a removable baitwell bucket (not pictured here). Not only does the livewell automatically recirculate water, the builder offers an optional oxygenator ($345) to ensure the fish stay alive.

Nitro ZV 18 tackle boxes


Dual compartments on either side of the livewell house removable buckets that hold up to seven 3700 tackle boxes. Also note the location of the stern ladder and easy access on and off the ZV18.

Nitro ZV 18 ski tow pylon

An optional ski tow pylon ($345) slides through the base on the aft casting deck and into a locking mount that’s accessible via the motor well. We like that all motor harnesses run through a plastic sleeve and directly into the boat, keeping exposed cables at a minimum.

Nitro ZV 18 access hatch

In the motor well, an access hatch allows the operator to easily mount the optional ski tow pylon and get to the livewell plumbing and electrical pumps.

Nitro ZV 18 charging receptacle

A rubber cover protects the receptacle for the standard onboard charging system. It’s located aft to starboard near the plug-in stern light.


The ZV18’s transom was designed for an optional kicker motor with added controls and adjustable jack plate. Numerous kicker motor options are available directly through Nitro. To port at the stern, we also found the four-step stainless steel boarding ladder that folds away when not in use.

Nitro ZV 18 jack plate

An optional adjustable jack plate varies in size depending on the motor and configuration of choice.

Nitro ZV 18 ladder

A standard stainless steel four-step ladder easily folds away and locks into place at the stern when not in use.


The standard Galvashield trailer is custom made to fit the ZV18 and is color-matched with a powder coat finish. Each trailer features drive-on carpeted bunks, custom aluminum wheels with radial tires, diamond-plated steps at the back of the trailer and a swing-away tongue. Nitro offers trailer upgrades from axle configuration through built-in brakes. In addition to the boat warranty, the trailer is also backed for three years against structural failure due to corrosion.

Nitro ZV 18 trailer

The standard Nitro trailer features a swing-away tongue as well as a tongue jack for added convenience and maneuverability.

Price and Performance

The Nitro ZV18 has an LOA of 18’11” (5.77 m), a beam of 102’’ (2.59 m) and a draft of 19.75” (.50 m). With an empty weight of 2,300 lbs. (1,043 kg), full fuel, test power and two people on board, we had an estimated test weight of 2,990 lbs. (1,356 kg).
The ZV18 comes standard with a Mercury 4-stroke 150XL ($37,995). Those looking for extra speed can choose among 2- and 4-stroke outboards up to 200-hp. We tested the boat with a 200-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke outboard turning an 18” pitch Enertia stainless-steel three-blade propeller through a 1.75:1 gear reduction.

We hit a top speed

of 46.5 mph at 5500 rpms and burned 18.4 gph, giving her a range of 103 miles at wide open.

For best cruise

throttle back to 3000 rpm. The boat runs 22.8 mph and burns 5.8 gph, increasing the range to 160 miles. In acceleration tests, a 2-stroke with torque to spare is always fun. We planed in 3.4 seconds and ran out to 20 mph in 4.4 seconds and to 30 mph in 6.5 seconds.

After our test

, Tracker found corrosion on the ZV18's prop. When they re-ran the boat with a 14 ½’’ by 18’’ Enertia propeller, Tracker technicians hit a top speed 51.9 mph at 5740 rpm. They found the best cruise to be at 3500 rpm.
We had the opportunity to run the ZV18 in calm conditions for speed numbers. But the wind kicked up later in the day and in turns, she transitioned cleanly through slalom passes and she tracked well through sweeping arcs, which should make the boat a good candidate for towing tubes. With 17-degrees of deadrise at the transom and a sharp blunt bow entry, she capably took on wind-whipped chop and boat wakes. Our test boat had the optional walkthrough windshield that kept spray off our team.

Nitro ZV 18 running shot

With a 200-hp outboard, the ZV18 tops 45 mph and planes in just over 3 seconds.

Options To Consider and Price

• Custom color option ($350)

• Sony Sound System ($600)

• SmartCraft gauges (standard with Verado outboards) ($1,625)

• Fishing chair and pedestal ($250)

• Smooth Moves suspension seats ($1,000)

• Ski tow pylon ($345)

• Walkthrough windshield ($600)

• Rigging kit for kicker motor ($575)

• Kicker motor ranging from 9.9 to 15-hp ($3,825 to $4,925)

• Lenco trim tabs ($970)

• Trolling motor upgrades ($480 to $1,345)

• Bow graph ($1,000 to $4,625)

• Dash graph exchange ($940 to $5,495)

• Second dash graph ($1,000 to $5,000)


The Nitro ZV18 is a strong contender in the under 20’ (6.09 m) multi-species fishing class. The builder clearly designed the boat with the avid fisherman in mind, as evidenced by the dual casting platforms, numerous wells, lockable three-tier rod locker, storage compartments, and overall functionality.
Anglers and families will appreciate the security created by the deep cockpit. We also like the multi-use platform with the option of the wrap-around windshield, stereo, and ski pylon for more family-oriented activities.

Nitro ZV 18 running shot

The Nitro ZV18 pictured above in heavier conditions. Notice how the deep V hull design cuts through the chop while keeping passengers safe and dry.

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