Contents of Report
The Nitro Z18 is a high-performance bass boat that is fully rigged for tournament anglers who don’t need the ego massage of a more prestigious brand name and a price tag that is $20,000 more with virtually no extra functionality.
Little wonder that the Nitro Z18 is the largest selling fiberglass bass boat model.
Nitro Vortex Technology hull with Rapid Planing System. The bottom is designed for a smoother ride and quicker holeshot.
Composite Coring in the Deck. No wood in the deck means nothing that can rot or go soggy with time and water absorption.
Z-Core Seating with Force Flex Suspension. Bucket seats are contoured for comfort and designed in collaboration with fishing legend Kevin VanDam.
Standard Hydraulic Steering with Tilt. Makes for a more responsive feel and it’s safer.
Lowrance HOOK-5X Fishfinder. It comes standard, which isn’t something that can always be expected on an 18’ (5.49 m) boat.
Matched Trailer. Designed specifically to fit the Z18 so it sits deeper on the trailer and rides more smoothly over the road.
Out front, the Z18 has a 34-sq.-ft. (3.2 sq. m) forward casting deck that has a composite core instead of the old plywood one. Nitro says it gives the area improved thermal stability and strength. The boat comes with a Minn Kota Maxxum trolling motor with 70 lbs. (32 kg) of thrust and a 42” (1.07 m) shaft.
Bow Storage. As we’ve seen on other Nitro models, the Z18 has ample storage capacity and the company pays attention to the small details. Hatches are reinforced on the underside with aluminum so they don’t flex when someone walks on them. They open on gas struts, so two hands can be used to retrieve gear and in the center locker, the partitions are move-able so the area can be customized. Just aft, the step down into the seating area opens and inside are a cooler and wastebasket.
The Seating Area. The Z18’s twin bucket seats feel supportive and well padded. To port, an optional second console can be installed and there’s another rod rack that lets anglers stash gear quickly and securely for a run to a hot spot. To starboard, the helm has the aforementioned hydraulic steering with a tilt wheel. Up top, three multifunction gauges integrate the fuel level in the speedometer and the trim indicator in the tachometer with a separate volt meter and water-pressure instrument. They flank the centrally mounted HOOK-5x fishfinder that displays surface temperature and down imaging.
Dash lights can be dimmed with a switch and all the livewell switches are to the starboard side of the steering wheel.
Aft Deck. A step between the bucket seats leads to the aft fishing deck. That step is hinged and opens to provide access to the fuel tank and fittings. The area is finished in the same carpet as the forward casting deck and has space for one angler to work a fish.
Beneath the outboard hatches are removable storage tubs and the dual forward hatches open a 30-gallon (114 L) Guardian livewell that has aeration, a timer and a removable divider. Aft in the center, dual hatches provide access to the twin Series 29 Interstate trolling batteries and 24M-RD cranking battery plus the 2-bank, 8-amp charging system. The 1,000-gph (3.785 lph) bilge pump and units for the livewell are also accessible.
The Z18 Specs. The Z18 measures 18’8” (5.69 m) long with a 7’10” (2.39 m) beam, and an empty weight of 1,700 lbs. (771 kg). The boat is available with 150- or 175-hp outboards and our test model was equipped with a Mercury Pro XS 150. With two people and 40 gallons (151 L) of fuel on board, our boat’s estimated test weight was 2,765 lbs. (1,254 kg).
The prop was a 25’ Fury 4-blade.
The Pro XS propelled the Z18 to 60.2 mph at 5770 rpm. Best cruise came at 3000 rpm where we ran 25.7 mph and burned 4.0 gph for a rating of 6.4 mpg and a range of 231 statute miles with 10 percent of the boat’s 40-gallon (151 L) fuel capacity in reserve.
At 600 rpm idle, we saw 3.4 mph and recorded 4.9 mph at 1000 rpm.
In acceleration tests, the Z18 planed in 4.1 seconds and ran to 20 mph in 4.6 seconds and to 30 mph in 6.4 seconds. Mercury uses Transient Spark Technology to advance engine timing under hard acceleration and the company says that increases torque from 5% to 7%. Nitro’s Rapid Planing System is also designed to help improve hole shot.
Keeping in mind that bass boats are designed primarily to run in straight lines to fishing spots, when we put the Z18 through some maneuverability tests, the boat responded predictably, carving sweeping arcs in each direction at reasonable speeds.
Nitro builds the Z18 with a unitized hull and deck and foam-filled stringer system. As mentioned previously, a composite core has replaced plywood in the deck and a composite core enclosed in fiberglass is used for the transom. All open voids in the hull bottom are filled with foam for buoyancy. It is a USCG requirement that all boats 20’ (6.10 m) and under float level if swamped.
All wire harnesses fasten with waterproof Deutsch connectors and the trolling motor has a 50-amp circuit breaker.
The Z18 rides on a custom-matched trailer that’s powder-coated and finished in Galvashield protective treatment. The single axle is equipped with 14” (.36 m) tires on No Touch Vortex hubs with a 6-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
There’s a spare tire carrier, but the extra tire and rim are an option. The tongue swings away to save space for on-land storage and an outboard motor support comes standard. Bunks and fender boards are covered in carpet to protect the hull.
The base price is $29,995 with a Mercury 150-hp FourStroke outboard.
Lifetime transferrable on the hull, interior stringers and transom, plus a one-year warranty on components. Galvashield coating on the trailer is warranted against corrosion for three years.
Options to Consider
- • Bow graph choices from Lowrance, Humminbird, and Garmin
- • Choice of five battery charger upgrades
- • Two bike seats (exchange)
- • Two jump seats (exchange)
- • Center bucket seat
- • Automatic bilge pump
- • Keel protector
- • Livewell control valve
- • Hot Foot throttle
- • Trim lever on steering wheel
- • Tackle management system with center box dividers
- • Removable port console with hardware
- • R&R Design or Bob’s Machine Shop 6” (15.24 cm) jackplate
- • Choice of shallow water anchors from Minn Kota or Power-Pole
- • Mooring cover for side console or dual consoles
- • Spare tire for trailer
- • Brakes for single axle
We can’t see any reason why the Z18 won’t continue to be a strong seller for Nitro. With a 150 or 175-hp motor, the boat is affordable to buy and operate and it comes equipped with everything an angler would need to head straight to the water.
The upgrades to the seats were noticeable and the addition of the composite deck is noteworthy because it basically means there’s nothing on the boat that can rot or get soggy.
With the weight of the boat, motor, and trailer package listed at an average of 3,200 lbs. (1,451 kg), there’s no shortage of mid-sized and half-ton vehicles that can tow the Nitro Z18.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Nitro Z18 (w/ Mercury 150-hp Pro XS) (2019-) is 60.2 mph (96.9 kph), burning 14.5 gallons per hour (gph) or 54.88 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Nitro Z18 (w/ Mercury 150-hp Pro XS) (2019-) is 25.7 mph (41.4 kph), and the boat gets 6.4 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.72 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 231 miles (371.76 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 150-hp Mercury Pro XS.
- Time to plane for the Nitro Z18 (w/ Mercury 150-hp Pro XS) (2019-) is 4.1 sec. seconds.
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Nitro Z18 (w/ Mercury 150-hp Pro XS) (2019-) is 6.4 sec. seconds.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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