Boat review: Nitro Z21XL

2021 Nitro Z21 XL - Florida shoot

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Nitro resides at the apex of professional tournament bass boats and Kevin Van Dam has kept it in the spotlight with his many tournament wins. The new Z21 XL enhances its looks, fishability and competitive edge. At a suggested list of under $85,000 as tested, it features a Mercury 250 Pro XS outboard and SeaStar hydraulic steering. Trim and jackplate controls are “blinker” style on the tilt wheel column.

With our setup, we ran this Nitro a tick over 70 mph at 6,000 rpm with a 23-pitch Mercury Fury propeller. That’s pretty swift with 500 pounds of boat testers and nearly 3/4 of a tank of fuel. Handling-wise, the Nitro clipped the tops off foot-high wind chop at 65 mph, without losing stability. The 18-degree multi-strake pad vee makes for a dry ride. With both hands on the wheel and the trim/jack controls in fingertip reach, the 18-degree deadrise hull was easy to handle. Hard over wheel exercises yielded clean turns.

Outside, the sharp black and red gel gave a sleek and crisp appearance.

Aboard, the foredeck is fitted with an optional Lowrance Ghost trolling motor with autopilot and GPS lock. The foot pedal is recessed in a drop-down mount to keep deck clutter down. A second 12-inch Lowrance HDS graph could easily be accompanied by another if desired. Dual rod lockers carry a full quiver of seven rods each, plus 18 Plano 3700 tackle boxes. The step to the cockpit conceals a cooler, sandwich bin and trash receptacle. Another 20-tube dual-tier rod storage system is in the port side compartment; the starboard compartment is for bulk dry storage.

 The helm provided plenty of space for the optional 12-inch Lowrance HDS graph surrounded by Mercury electronic analog gauges. A brand-new-for-2023 digital switch panel controls all electrical features on board. The big Merc is kept in check with an optional Hot Foot throttle on a sliding plate for custom adjustment.

This Nitro converts to a dual-console boat with an optional console that quickly bolts in place. I liked the handy wiring diagram under the center rear access hatch and found the rigging underneath sharp and tidy.

Anglers looking for a complete package that performs at a competitive price will be hard pressed to ignore Nitro’s Z21 XL.

High points

  • Styled boarding ladder provides reboarding safety without disrupting the sleek shape of the Z21 XL.
  • “Z-Core” cockpit seating with Force Flex suspension provide secure cushioned seating for long trips.
  • Dual day boxes at the bow for quick lure changes.

LOA: 21’2”
Beam: 8’0”
Draft: TK
Dry Weight: 2,150 lb.
Seating/Weight Capacity: 4/825 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 60 gal.
Livewell Capacity: TK

How we tested
Engine: Mercury 250hp Pro XS FourStroke
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Fury 14” x 23” 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 38 gal.
Crew Weight: 500 lb.

Price: $84,755 (as tested)

Nitro Boats
Springfield, Missouri;