Xiongguanlong was a bipedal animal which balanced its body with a long tail, like most other theropods. It was intermediate in size between earlier tyrannosauroids from the Barremian and later tyrannosaurids from the Late Cretaceous, such as Tyrannosaurus, and has been estimated to weigh about 300 kilograms (660 lb). The vertebrae were more robust than in other basal tyrannosauroids, possibly to better support a big skull. The skull had a long muzzle resembling that of Alioramus.
The describers concluded that Xiongguanlong split off from the main branch of the Tyrannosauroidea before Appalachiosaurus, being the sister taxon of a clade consisting of Appalachiosaurus and the Tyrannosauridae. It has been found to be closely related to Alectrosaurus.
Below is a cladogram by Loewen et al. in 2013 including most tyrannosauroid species.