Harman builds high-end in-car entertainment and navigation systems, present in some 30 million vehicles. Its order backlog as of 30 June was $24bn.
The acquisition marks a "strategic priority" for Samsung, which is playing catch-up with its rivals in a number of areas. Google is making significant progress with its driverless car technology, while Apple launched its own connected platform CarPlay in 2014.
Samsung Electronic's president and chief strategy officer, Young Sohn, claimed "long-term" growth opportunities in connected cars, predicting in a revolution in vehicles similar to mobile.
"The vehicle of tomorrow will be transformed by smart technology and connectivity in the same way that simple feature phones have become sophisticated smart devices over the past decade," he said.
Samsung may also seeking to enter new markets after its Galaxy Note 7 episode. The firm reported dented profits last month after it recalled, then discontinued the product.