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.
- 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
|Length Overall||18' 11'' / 5.77 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||3.4 sec.|
|0 to 30||6.5 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, full fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||75 deg., 80 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm|
1 x 200-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke
1 x 150-hp Mercury XL 4-stroke
1 x 150-hp Mercury XL OptiMax Pro XS
1 x 200-hp Mercury XL OptiMax
1 x 200-hp Mercury XL Verado
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Options To Consider and Price
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.